3 Leadership Lessons Everyone Can Take From This Startup Founder's Success Story
One of the most brilliant parts of being a first-time founder is that you experience everything for the first time. It never gets old. Seriously, it’s still terrifying. And exciting. And gratifying. Somehow, over time, you get used to the ever-shifting sands of time and rules, the brand-spanking-new set of challenges, the bold obstacles that loom in the horizon, the coming and going of people. I used to hate change, but being a founder forced me to embrace it. You can think of it as incredibly effective exposure therapy.
I founded Eventbrite when I was 25 and had exactly five professional years under my belt. Perspective was lacking, idealistic views were not. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into, and I’m beyond thrilled I took the leap from a comfortable corporate career into the abyss of founder-hood and entrepreneurship.
But perhaps more importantly, over the last 10 years, I’ve adopted three core philosophies that guide how I operate and manage people within the chaotic environment of a startup. Whether you, too, dream of running a startup or are looking for some advice for leading a team within your current company, my three secrets to success may help drive results for you, too.
1. Run a Meritocracy
I started my career in Hollywood, where I learned the rumors were true—having success there really was dictated by how who you knew, not what you knew. I grew frustrated by the fact that careers could be made and broken by relationships alone.
So, when I entered the tech industry and learned how a meritocracy functioned—i.e., being recognized for your work—I embraced it right away. Years later, this is still a core philosophy I subscribe to. Meritocracy is a leveler and enabler for the greatest talent to prevail. At Eventbrite, we value quality results over everything else. So while working late is acknowledged, at the end of the day, I care more about the results you’re producing.
Whether you run a company, a team, or just a project, aim to create meritocracies, where the best people—no matter who they are, who they know, or where they are on the ladder—can succeed. Your work will be stronger for it.
2. Move Fast
When you move fast, you’ll make mistakes. But failing fast and learning from those mistakes quickly will inevitably bring you more learning experiences. I find that humans tend to work from fear, which slows you down every time. By removing fear from the equation and focusing on getting to where you want to go as fast as possible, you enjoy some ancillary benefits—you tend to focus on less, you remove unnecessary work or distractions, and you experience the gratification of completion.
Now, this is not to say you should rush through your work. But, instead, to put aside all your fears and concerns and just start working on it. You’ll often find that many of your fears were unfounded, and your concerns were addressed along the way.
3. Empower Your Team
Productivity increases when your team loves the company and people they work for. And as someone trying to hit goals, launch a product, or run a successful company, you need productive people willing to work extra hard for you.
So, how do you build that loyalty? Empowerment. When employees have ownership over decisions on projects, time management, and even the vision of the team or company, they will feel more connected, and therefore, driven to (over)achieve.
At Eventbrite, we call this the “Make it Happen Spirit.” But know that no amount of verbiage will effectively make people fully understand ownership. As the person in charge, you need to delegate responsibilities and trust that people can complete them (without any micromanaging). This not only creates an enthusiastic team willing to go the extra mile to support you, but it also clears up room in your schedule to actually, you know, manage.
So, there you have it, my three secrets to building an incredibly successful team. Not so hard, right?
Photo of climber courtesy of Shutterstock.
Julia Hartz is the Co-Founder and President of Eventbrite, the online marketplace for live experiences. Focused on in-house strategy and growth, Julia is responsible for building, evolving, and sustaining Eventbrite’s growing team of 500 “Britelings” and award-winning company culture. Before Co-Founding Eventbrite, Julia worked as a television development executive at MTV and FX Networks. Say hi on Twitter @JuliaHartzMore from this Author