A word from a CEO #77

by Basilis Kanonidis

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People > Everything

Hi all –

I’ve been talking a lot about what I wish I’d learned earlier in life. It’s a long list.

But one of the biggest is that at a company (and in life) people > everything. I now say that a company is 99% people (our customers, our employees, our investors) and 1% everything else. But for much of my career I just assumed that if you built a great product, the people would follow.

I was wrong.

For my first, second and even third companies – I never focused on culture. When I was looking to hire people, I just looked for the smartest and most talented people I could. I didn’t consider how they would work together, or the culture that they would create.

But after reflection, I realized that these cultures had been created accidentally – and they were ones I didn’t even want to be a part of. I didn’t wake up every morning, tap dancing, excited to be part of the culture. And don’t get me wrong – every single one of these people were great and talented. But by not focusing on creating teams and a culture – a reason for being and a reason for these people to want to work together, I wasn’t proud of everything we created.

That’s why, when starting Drift, Elias and I were intentional from the very beginning about culture and putting the people first. It is not easy. It’s painful. It’s a lot easier to just hire the best of everything and not focus on team dynamics – but take it from me. If you take that extra time to consider how people will work together, how to create a company that people want to go to every day (even virtually) it will make all the difference in the world.

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