Having built one company from scratch previously, I thought I knew some of the most important things about building a company… Things like hard work, customer service, innovation, cash flow, grit, planning, etc. All of the core elements that make a company successful.
But when I entered the tech sector in 2012 full time, I had a crash course in learning the most important thing about building a startup in the technology industry.
As I set out on this new journey, I assumed I would lean on the things I had already learned building my PR firm. Only in this case, I put all of my money into the technology because that's what I thought you do as a tech startup. And then I made a few hires. I set out to repeat what I knew from my muscle memory and BAM, my grand plans hit the skids fast. What I never really ever came to grips with was that the single most important investment you make in building a startup isn't the technology, and it's not even raising money… it's the people you hire and the quality of people you surround yourself with.
It took me a while to really understand this. But the more I studied the organizations I admired like LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, AIrBnB, Salesforce, etc… the more I realized that they didn’t just hire the smartest people they could find, they hired the best quality people. And their cultures reflected that.
And I started to see it in my own world of commercial real estate tech. The startups gaining the most traction, that had been building the best businesses, had great people around the Founders.
I recently listened to this amazing podcast and one comment from Mark Zuckerberg really stood out..."I would only hire someone to work for me If I would work for them".
Holy shit. That's friggin amazing. I use that now with every potential hire. And fortunately I am blessed that my current team reflects just that philosophy. Every single one of the amazing people I get to work with, I would also work for them in a heartbeat. I would follow them into battle every time. And I would hope they would feel the same about me.
And as result, my startup and newly acquired tech company are thriving. They are truly growing beyond my own expectations. And my team challenges me every day. They question my ideas. They push back on certain things I may suggest. They bring me new ideas and strategies daily. They lead me. They are all CEO’s of their own part of the business. And as a result, I manage less than I ever have before and I have less personnel drama in my business than at anytime in my career.
And it all comes back to the people I hired. Earlier in my career I was THE BOSS. I was an intense micro-manager. I was really tough on people (hopefully never mean or disrespectful, but tough as nails) and I had zero patience. Yes it worked in building a successful business, but I was miserable as a result.
Being in tech taught me the single greatest lesson in building a startup, it's all about the people and the team you assemble. And perhaps that's a lesson for any corporation.