20 Founders Share the Biggest Lessons They Are Learning Right Now
Don't be afraid to admit what you don't know.
1. Getting out of your comfort zone
2. Becoming savvier about numbers
3. The importance of trial and error
4. Raising a family
5. How to grow a company culture
6. Providing great customer service
7. A brand new language
8. How to be more mindful
9. Finding a new hobby
10. How to get mentally stronger
11. How to help others succeed
12. Teaching people how to be great leaders
13. Balancing long and short-term goals
14. Staying informed on the latest social media trends
15. Be a better communicator
16. Hiring and building a team
17. How to scale a company sensibly
18. Providing nuanced feedback and advice
19. Finding a better work-life balance
20. Trusting that who you hire will do the job you need
The most successful entrepreneurs are the first to admit that they don’t know everything. They are constantly stretching and challenging themselves.
They understand that the acceptance and application of new ideas and perspectives are not just invaluable elements for the growth and longevity of their companies. They are the things that will make them stronger leaders.
We asked 20 founders to share with us the kinds of new lessons they are excited to be learning right now.
Name: Angie Hicks
Company: Angie’s List
Lesson: I’m always learning through change and how to manage change. That is one thing I tell people that I’m the anti-change person. But you have to learn how to evolve and work through it and guide teams through that process too. That’s one of the things I’m focusing on right now and something that is a continual thing.
Read more about Hicks: This Introvert Founder Swears by This Management Tip
Name: Whitney Wolfe
Lesson: I’m learning a lot about accounting. I’m not super math savvy, but I think it’s something that is incredibly important to any business. I’m working on that and learning more about different corners of the business. I'm really trying to educate not only myself but the rest of the team in categories they might not specialize in.
Read more about Wolfe: The Founder of Bumble Reveals How the 'Question of Nine' Can Help You Stay Focused
Name: Shan-Lyn Ma
Lesson: Every day I'm learning more about leading a fast-paced tech startup. I've learned the most from the many experiments we run within every function every day. We're all learning together. I used to think the great startups knew what they were doing and there were playbooks you could apply. I'm realizing that every situation is so different based on industry, people and timing. You need to test all the hypotheses and see what works for your particular case.
Read more about Ma: This Founder Has a 5-Minute Secret Weapon That Helps Her Focus Every Day
Name: John Zimmer
Lesson: I’m learning how to be a father. It’s super important, because I want to take great care of my daughter, but I also think that there is so much noise in today’s world. And the most important thing we do is raising a family and taking care of our kids, because I think they can have a really powerful impact. I want her to be happy and have a positive impact on the people and the world around her.
Read more about Zimmer: Lyft Co-Founder John Zimmer: 'You Should Never Veer Off the Path of Your Own Values'
Name: Amber Venz
Lesson: The value of our foundation. A strong foundation is what allows you to scale, allows you continued success and that comes back to planning as well. We're six years into RewardStyle, and I look at it from a technical perspective and also from a cultural perspective. This is the time where if we hadn't put the right things in place we would start seeing the company fracturing or breaking down. It's understanding the value of doing things right.
Read more about Venz: This Founder Shares the Mindset That Helps Her Stay On Track
Name: Aaron Levie
Lesson: It’s not so much new as something I’m diving into with more passion. I’m learning about how companies deliver world-class customer service. I’m learning from a range of businesses from Disney to Starbucks, reading a lot of books of those businesses and the founders of those organizations.
Read more about Levie: Why This Founder Says You Shouldn't Be Afraid to Go Big
Name: Jen Rubio
Lesson: I'm taking Mandarin and reteaching myself to play the the piano. I'm doing these things to remind myself that you are never too old to be learning new things.
Read more about Rubio: Use This Founder's Top Tip To Make Your Meetings Work For You
Name: David Bladow
Lesson: I’m in a meditation program, so I’m learning about mindfulness. The most important thing that an entrepreneur can do is put yourself in a place where your mind is sharp and fresh. Any practice the more you do, the better you get.
Read more about Bladow: This Founder Has 3 Simple Tips to Achieve Maximum Productivity
Name: Brit Morin
Company: Brit + Co
Lesson: My husband and I have committed to becoming better photographers together. We actually started off the year with a photo excursion to the Joshua Tree desert in southern California, and have also recently been to Iceland for a photo trip among volcanoes and glaciers. It’s such a fun way to learn something new, see the world and reconnect as a couple.
Read more about Morin: This Founder Shares the Secret to How to Make Your Business Last
Name: Carrie Dorr
Company: Pure Barre
Lesson: I’m learning more about the cognitive benefits of exercise. For a long time we've been focused on the physical benefits of exercise but the neurological benefits are really fascinating. It kind of ties in with aging gracefully. How can you live your best life into your 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond.
Read more about Dorr: This Founder Shares How to Tailor Your Schedule to Fit Your Brain
Name: Bastian Lehmann
Lesson: I’m learning right now to really work with a large group of people. While they all have the company in mind, they also have personal goals for their personal lives and careers. I find it fascinating to discover that and help people succeed in both.
One of the questions I ask in every interview is how can the company help them develop on a personal level? I think it’s a duty that we have. Someone who wants to work here for four years can take things from the company and those lessons can help him achieve goals and dreams in the future.
Read more about Lehmann: This Founder Shares the One Trait He Looks for in Every Hire
Name: Julia Hartz
Lesson: I have a strength in coaching leaders and keeping focused on the vision of the company. This is critical, because I can’t do it alone and I’ve surround myself with people who make me stronger and better. Build a tribe of teammates, advisors, investors, who will inspire you, push you and support you daily.
Read more about Hartz: The Day This Eventbrite Co-Founder Learned When to Speak Up
Name: Gavin Armstrong
Company: Lucky Iron Fish
Lesson: I'm learning to balance long-term objectives with short-term needs. It is really easy to get caught up in short term objectives -- sales, numbers, meeting quotas, managing your inbox. But you have to take some time to plan to achieve your long-term goals and figure out how to get there.
Read more about Armstrong: This CEO Has Helped Thousands -- and He's Just Getting Started
Name: Randi Zuckerberg
Company: Zuckerberg Media
Lesson: For me, I even see social media and technology as constant education. The tech is changing so quickly for someone like me. If I didn’t constantly work to keep educating myself, I wouldn't even be hired as a junior social-media manager today. I’m constantly in a state learning, researching what’s going on, what the innovations are, what the social media platforms are doing. There is not day that goes by that I don’t try to educate myself in tech.
Read more about Zuckerberg: Why Everyone Can Use Randi Zuckerberg's Number One Focus Tip
Name: Tim Chen
Lesson: It’s really important to have a multi-disciplinary understanding of a lot of different things to come up with the best answers. I apply this at Nerdwallet. The thing that is important is to have people with different experiences contribute when relevant without too much noise. I’m learning about [building] a collaborative culture, how you facilitate communication and how we get to the truth.
Read more about Chen: Nerdwallet's Founder Shares the Worst Advice He Ever Got
Name: Heidi Zak
Lesson: Right now our business is growing very quickly, so I spend a good amount of time interviewing more senior people. The interview process is much longer for these hires, because it's important to find the people with the right skill set, cultural fit and leadership skills. For me, it's learning how to effectively handle those interviews. That's something I've been focused on recently.
Name: Daniella Yacobovsky
Lesson: One of the big things that we are learning right now is about continuing to scale up. How do you scale up as a business and do that in a collaborative and cross-functional way? We have grown tremendously in the past few years and one of the big lessons we have learned as a company is how to scale up and put processes in places that allow the company to continue to run smoothly but without tampering the creative spirit.
Read more about Yacobovsky: This Co-Founder of BaubleBar's Secret for Inspiration?
Name: Chris Wanstrath
Lesson: What I have been trying to do is to break down my skills, strengths and weaknesses, and get better at them by practicing. Then I check in with myself. I think I’ve always been good at giving black-and-white feedback, but I’m trying to get better at offering suggestions and minor feedback.
Name: Alex Friedman
Lesson: To better articulate what I need, and make it happen. In a world where there is so much going on, I have to figure out how to advocate for myself in my own life and to make sure that I have the work-life balance I need.
Read more about Friedman: How You Can Use Your Computer Password to Make Your Aspirations a Reality
Name: Alli Webb
Lesson: Our company has grown so much over the last seven years, and we’ve hired so many people to take over a lot of areas. I don’t make every decision anymore, because we’ve brought on so many great, smart people to help us. But it is hard to let go. I struggle with it, but I find that if I trust in the people that we brought in and let people make decisions, even if they are the wrong ones sometimes, that is a learning process for me.
Read more about Webb: This Beauty Founder Shares the Secret Leadership Skill to Making a Company Thrive