There’s an old adage that if you want to get something done, find the busiest person you know to take on the task. David Hornik is the embodiment of that manta. I first met David a year and a half ago as part of my journey with the Kauffman Fellows. He was so insightful that our […]
Last week I received a fantastic email. The email was from the CEO of one of my portfolio companies announcing the promotion of his administrative assistant. After three years of doing great work for the CEO, this assistant was promoted into a role in the marketing department. As much as the CEO regretted losing such a fantastic assistant, he was truly thrilled to see her progress in her career.
The email reminded me of yet another reason I think that startups are so special. Startups can provide amazing opportunities for career advancement. In more established businesses, it is often hard to find room to take on additional responsibilities; and harder still to find space in the organization to progress with one's career. Startups, on the other hand, often grow at such a pace that not only are employees able to take on additional responsibilities, they are required to. As a result, smart, hard working individuals -- like the administrative assistant above -- will have doors open in front of them. No need to break down doors in the land of the fast-growing startup. Just walk on through.
True, this upward mobility in startups is also a bit of a double edged sword. Startups are brutal meritocracies and employees who fail to meet the expectations of the organization can rather find themselves heading out the door. But those who outperform are given ever more responsibility and the opportunity to march up the corporate ladder.
Often times in successful startups, the lions share of the glory goes to the founders and CEO. And they certainly are deserving of praise. But the most successful businesses are an amalgamation of wonderful people at all levels of the organization. And as those businesses thrive, they provide opportunities for growth across the organization, which further energizes the company, spurring on more growth. The end result is a culture of advancement and success that can not be beaten.
As I got the note from my portfolio company CEO, It was just another reminder of what success looks like. Success is about opportunity. And success breeds success. I could not be happier for the company. But, most importantly, I could not be happier for such a wonderful member of the team. Congratulations Jamie!
I flew down to Santa Monica today to attend a memorial service in celebration of the life of Jody Sherman. Along with a hundred and fifty of his closest friends, we shared stories of the Jody we remembered. We celebrated his incredible spirit. More than a few tears were shed, including a ton of my own. And while many of us wondered aloud how such a positive force in all of our lives could possibly have taken his own, our speculation wasn't vulgar rumor mongering. It was genuine astonishment. The Jody we knew seemed like an unadulterated optimist. The Jody we knew spent his every day bringing others joy. The Jody we knew was a force for good. But apparently the Jody we knew wasn't the whole Jody. If only we had known.
Story after story today made clear why Jody was so special. Jody was unendingly giving of himself to others. And Jody was honest and direct, to a fault. In combination these traits made him an amazing mentor. Jody was the confidant of innumerable entrepreneurs. They turned to him for help and could count on his un-judgmental but critical advice. Jody didn't believe in complacency. He was one of the hardest working guys you'd ever meet. But there was no such thing as work for work's sake. Jody lived his life with a purpose and taught entrepreneurs that same single-minded resolve. Today's memorial service was full of recipients of Jody's tough love. But no one focused on the toughness. Everyone focused on the love. That's what shined through.
I will greatly miss Jody. He was a wonderful friend to so many of us. And all we could think today was "too soon. too soon."