For This Entrepreneur Couple, Some Days Are Diamonds and Some Days Are Rocks
In this ongoing series, we are sharing advice, tips and insights from real entrepreneurs who are out there doing business battle on a daily basis. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Who are you and what’s your business?
We are Jason Payne (CEO) and Lindsay Reinsmith (COO), the husband-wife team that launched Ada Diamonds, a Silicon Valley bespoke fine jeweler of lab-grown diamonds. We deliver ethical and sustainable fine art.
What does the word “entrepreneur” mean to you?
LR: An entrepreneur is an optimist and a problem-solver; someone who views the world without rules, without barriers, and without "no". Someone who imagines that a solution exists for any problem; then asks "how" rather than "if".
JP: And -- most importantly -- someone that just gets shit done.
What trait do you depend on most when making decisions and why is that useful for you?
LR: We have a wonderful set of checks and balances when it comes to attitudes and ideas. Jason is the visionary; he's always looking ahead, thinking of the future, and optimistically planning for growth. I’m the small business owner; viewing the problem analytically and in great detail, asking, "How can we make this happen with the budget allowed?"
What’s the problem are attacking now?
LR: Increasingly, we have more demand for large diamonds than available inventory in the world. For example, we have a client looking for a 2.75 to 3.25 carat Princess Cut lab-grown diamond of exceptional quality. Today, that diamond does not exist. The primary reason that we are raising a Series A is not that we need the capital to grow our company, but instead that we need the capital to commission the growing and cutting of spectacular diamond gemstones to meet client demand.
JP: And opening a second showroom in downtown San Francisco. While we have had our Silicon Valley location for a little less than a year, we realized it was not convenient for our SF clients who work full time. As a result, we knew we were losing potential clients simply because in-person sales weren't possible in the city. Our clients have specific needs and not a lot of free time. Understanding how to best serve those needs in a convenient, inviting, and an accommodating way for our clients has proven a fun challenge!
Is there a particular quote or saying that you use as personal motivation?
LR: "Nothing worth having was ever achieved without effort." -- Teddy Roosevelt. To me, nothing feels as good as achieving client satisfaction by going the extra mile, putting in that extra effort, to deliver happiness.
JP: "Some days are diamonds some days are rocks" -- Tom Petty. The majority of days, entrepreneurship sucks. It's stressful. It's lonely. You have rocky patches where you think that your company may not survive another month. You get let down by third parties almost every day. You miss that birthday party, ski trip, or just a day off because said third party failed you and you are forced to do their job for them. But then you have the diamonds -- those are the days that every entrepreneur knows are worth dozens of days of rocks.
How has your leadership style evolved?
JP: The first time I was a lead in a professional environment I was 25 and I failed miserably. I then had the good fortune of a new boss who was a decorated Army Ranger. He rode me hard but took the time to teach me many tenants of small unit leadership that have made me an effective leader in a rapidly evolving organization. My three most important lessons/evolutions:
- The overarching mission of a good leader is to make themselves as irrelevant as possible as soon as possible. That means that the leader has empowered their team to succeed, and has freed themselves up to take on bigger, broader, and more important missions.
- The biggest mistake a young leader can make is holding on to ownership of a task/relationship/deliverable too long. If you do that, you will fail at the worst possible moment and your team will not be prepared to rise to the occasion
- Interviewing and (more importantly) onboarding are the highest return on investment you can possibly get for your time. On the flip side, the wrong hire can irreparably damage your organization.
What is it like to start a company with your spouse?
JP: It's incredible. My wife is my favorite person in the world, and I feel incredibly lucky that I get to spend more than seventy-five percent of my waking hours working with her, either side-by-side, back-to-back, or occasionally hand-in-hand. She is my partner who complements my skills, makes up for my weaknesses, regularly calls me out on my bullshit and above all busts ass right along side of me day after day after day. I would have already failed three times over if she was not in this journey with me.