8 Lessons from the ARIS Experience

eightballIn my last blog post, I reminisced about the ARIS days. Now, maybe I can share some of the lessons learned during those times.

  1. It’s about the TEAM: No matter if you are MIT smart like Paul Song, it’s the collective ability of the leadership team, not one individual. You cannot scale without having a cohesive team. So, a great leader surrounds himself with not only capable, but also a cohesive management team.
  2. Be FRUGAL: I applaud Paul for setting a very fiscally conservative tone from the outset. At times, we complained about him for being too “cheap”. But in hindsight, his tight fiscal management allowed ARIS to grow from a basement operation to a 1,000 employees in seven years without any outside capital.
  3. OUTSIDE Perspective: If you are experiencing exponential growth, bring experienced outside executives to test the leadership’s perspectives. Make sure to have a board that constructively challenges the management team.
  4. Make Promises that you CAN KEEP: It’s easy to get caught up in your own success and over-promise to employees, investors and all stakeholders. Be careful what you promise directly or even indirectly.
  5. Remember the PASSION: Many growing companies going public become too focused on the numbers. During difficult times, this focus can become myopic. Remember the passion behind the company — the Vision.
  6. Don’t believe all the HYPE: People have a pack mentality. They tend to exaggerate the positives when things are going well, and exaggerate the negative when things are going bad. You know how you are doing inside. Listen to that inner voice.
  7. Beware of GREED: It can sneak up on you. Keep in perspective your initial personal goals. Adjust them accordingly to changing situations but beware of becoming greedy and making the wrong decisions for the wrong reasons.  If you are fortunate enough to take a company public, start moving the eggs to other baskets — diversify.
  8. Give LUCK its due: Without question, luck or karma or fate have a tremendous influence on your success. Don’t kid yourself. Acknowledge that and you may find more graces of luck. If not, be ready to fall on the sword of arrogance.