Over my career, I’ve now been involved in seven startups. People sometimes ask, how do you come up with the different ideas for your businesses? Well, I listen and I pay attention.
I was fortunate that early in my career I joined my brother’s company, ARIS, which had a successful IPO in 1997. That event gave me a lot of valuable experience as well as an excellent network of professionals. Every new venture since then were ideas formulated by listening to other people’s thoughts and paying attention to market trends. Lucky for me, my professional network has always included some extremely smart and innovative people. Any worthwhile idea that I’ve ever had initially came from someone else. I just put different lens to the idea and applied it to a market trend that I understood. I’m by no means an inventor. I’m an innovator of applying existing ideas to developing market trends. Anyone can be such an innovator.
The important thing is to network and surround yourself with people who can challenge, inspire, and present different points of view. We truly don’t get to pick our family, but we do get to pick the company that we keep. Time is certainly one of our most valued assets — and it’s finite. I recommend that you spend it with people who can bring the best out of you.