I recently had the amazing opportunity to talk with the CEO and founder of a (valued @) 2 billion dollar company Based in NYC. I asked him some questions to open the taps and took some notes. In my writing of this conversation I tried to keep it raw in order to contain that sense of conversation. Sorry Grammar freaks.
Unfortunately due to the stature of this CEO’s position I cannot mention him or his company by name. Nevertheless. Hope you enjoy!
Your story, how did you get started?
I went to school for a CS degree and then got a job building web sites. For me the most exciting part was visual output and product design, eventually I started my own company, first coding on my own and then coming to the realization that there are many people out there that can code way better then me so I outsourced all the code and put all my focus at product design and that really differentiated my company from the competition.
Arrogant dissatisfaction, Honest curiosity
I always felt there was a better way, and what drove me most was: “having curiosity, getting opportunities, treating those opportunities as obligations”. The key is to always be curious, finding a way to do it better, and constantly ask yourself “What is the best way to do this??”
Having curiosity, getting opportunities, treating those opportunities as obligations.
You gotta be the best in the world at whatever you do
Whatever you do, in life, in business, in order to succeed you gotta be the best in your given market. For example a high school student selling ‘chocolate ice cream’ in school. For him to dominate is not enough to sell the best ‘chocolate ice cream’, he must ONLY sell chocolate ice cream! No vanilla, no pecan just focus on what he does best which is chocolate. The power to give-up on everything else and focus just on what you do best is where true genius lays. A nut and a genius are very similar that both have this crazy obsession with one single thing, the difference that ultimately separates them is that the nut’s obsession serves no one where is the genius has a market for his obsession.
Not Waiting for the next thing to start being creative. Permission to shine
The biggest mistake I see people making is that they wait for their next big thing to give themselves the permission to be creative. Real creativity is all about making the boring interesting. Working by day to pay the bills and studying in school at night? Make that job exciting, find a way to help your company in a creative way, learn to combine the two. Try to get permission to shine, have an idea? Ask your boss to give you a chance at it, as they say “The best way to make a million is by making someone else 2 million”
You can’t build to success. Success evolves unexpectedly
You never know where something will come from, our product was a natural process. It came to be by building tools that’ll helped our day to day in my software consulting business and it was totally unseen. It was an unexpected evolution. It was again this honest curiosity and it came from something else, we we’re like, oh let’s build this and now let’s build that.
The cycle of dissatisfaction
- Relentless progress …repeat
To me it was all rascal hacking. I tried hard not to smirk at the VC’s…
When I had my first meting with vc’s, they offered me 1.2 mil…! I was in disbelief, my only reaction was ‘try hard not to laugh’, in my mind it was really just this fun project, fueled by the cycle of dissatisfaction, it was rascal hacking, fueled by curiosity, like a little chipmunk, furiously, fun, but with a focus on product design. Just organic.
Motivation is a muscle
Make boring exciting. True talent is finding a new way to look at something. Never become cynical, look at all with a new lens, creativity is a challenge. Motivation is a muscle, learn how to control it.
Mind over matter is so important. Every morning is a choice
Face it, a large part of your work will not be exciting or interesting. The same is with marriage and relationships. It’s our goal as human beings to stand up to the challenge and find new ways to look at things.
Employment and interviews. Don’t be flaky, people like people who commit
Try not to jump around too much, employers like people who commit for the long term. Leveling up is fine, just don’t be flaky. Be interviewed and interview. Make sure to talk to at least 3 people who work at the company you’re inquiring about.
What is the single most important skill to have as an engineer?(there are many…)
- Ability to debug. Learn how to trace and isolate problems.
- Stay ahead with your language, follow and learn, geek out on it.
- Avid curiosity, 9 to 5
- User experience comes before everything
- Team player, learn communication, restaurant kitchen analogy
- Lots of stamina, rock out on something, be insensitive
- Completely in control, either you control your mood or your mood control’s you
This conversation was very inspiring and helped me tons, hope it helps you to!