Change the Why to Win, With Joe Walsh, Chairman and CEO of Thryv

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“I just fell in love with the problem, honestly. I fell in love with the situation.”

Is it possible that a CEO can get duped into running a company? Joe Walsh, Chairman and CEO of Thryv, shares how he ended up holding the reins of a historic company to pivot it from its phone book past to providing a digital platform that helps small businesses thrive.

Key Insights


You don’t need a six-figure education to learn how to be an entrepreneur.  

Some people go to traditional colleges – some don’t. There are hundreds of different ways to learn how to be successful, and none of them are wrong. For Walsh, reading books about the greats helped him find his way. 

“I sought my education by reading the biographies of great men and women, successful companies, countries, sports teams… anything that had been successful. I discovered audio programs and books on tape… I was driving constantly because I was out selling, so I listened to those things until I wore them out.”

Find a problem to fall in love with. 

Success is great, but winning is a very small part of an entrepreneurial journey. It’s important to love all of it – especially the problems you’re trying to solve – since that is where you’ll be spending most of your time. 

“I just fell in love with the problem, honestly. I fell in love with the situation, and this was a big company…. It was a big, juicy, hard-to-solve problem… a company with 5,000 employees, publicly held, billions of dollars of revenue, so it wasn’t going to go out of business tomorrow. I had a little runway to take it on and they made us an offer we couldn’t refuse.” 

 The out-of-the-box questions are going to be the ones that are most important. 

Walsh wanted to know how this older company with legacy and history could compete with smaller, more agile business models. That question led him to an answer that breathed new life into Thryv. 

 “We said… ‘What could we do to democratize this technology? We could help small businesses modernize and move from this analog technology from the past to an automated solution.’” 

About the Guest:

Joe Walsh is a lifelong innovator, entrepreneur and influential senior leader with more than 25 years of experience conceptualizing, building and growing businesses of all types and sizes. His specialties include general management, corporate development, product development, business operations, strategy, and investment management. As the CEO at Thryv, Inc. he helped reinvent a leads-based company into a SaaS corporation. It’s the  first-of-its-kind software that simplifies how small businesses manage their time, communicate with clients, and get paid.

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Episode 52