The less-often mentioned reason why a team jelling is so beneficial is that when things go badly, it can be the only thing that keeps the business going. A strong team of people who care about each other can get a company through a storm that would destroy lesser teams.
In an age where it’s easy to gawk at the latest unicorn funding rounds, Ernie is proud to have bootstrapped a company that is closing in on fifteen years in business, all of them profitable. As he prepares to expand his company’s headquarters for the second time and bring ever more companies onto the software platform his team has built, he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.
Some people take time off and re-assess things when they get to a point where they feel disconnected or in despair. They’re the smart ones; plenty of others fall into the “sleepwalking” stage. They’re too spent to approach their work with creativity and enthusiasm anymore, and their output predictably suffers.
Two things in particular stood out to me after talking to Sheldon. First, you can be ruthlessly efficient without being a ruthless person. And second, the conversation reaffirmed how important it is to enjoy what you do. Sheldon and his team have built a multi-billion dollar industry leader on the premise that people are the most efficient and effective when they love what they do and care about why they do it. I wanted to understand more about how someone could be so focused on efficiency as a manager and at the same time connect emotionally with their people.
As the company's name suggests, Carey has a sense of humor, but he's also dead serious about making the best products in the world and continuing to push boundaries at the nearly $300 million-a-year business he built from scratch.
Carey's head of corporate communications invited me to interview him after reading one of my articles, and I jumped at the chance to pick his brain on hiring good people, what it takes to earn his trust, and preparing people for leadership. What followed was an unfiltered look into how this CEO (or "Chief Big Ass" as he goes by) sees the world.
I realized something else about the process of interviewing over the years that is no doubt obvious to some but I’ll bet is news to others: the interview process itself can make companies stronger even without hiring a single person. When a group has to decide whether to admit a new candidate for membership or not, it forces the group to ask important questions of itself: What makes us who we are today, and are we happy with that? What qualities must a new person have to not slow us down and possibly make us even better? What do we want to look like as a group in the future?