Founders at Work

Stories of Startups' Early Days


  • On Amazon
  • ISBN: 978-1430210788
  • My Rating: 6/10

Founders at Work is a collection of interviews with 32 founders of technology/internet companies.

My impressions of Founders at Work are mixed. On the one hand I found it interesting to get a glimpse into the early days of many well-known companies. On the other hand I think it would have been better if the author would have put the interviews into essays, it would have eliminated the duplication and thought jumps in the answers that inevitably occur in interviews. And as a European reader I would also have liked some interviews with European founders (or non-North-American founders in general).

Max Levchin, Cofounder, PayPal

With any new method of moving money comes new forms of fraud. In large part, PayPal succeeded because it could deal with fraud – and its competitors couldn't.

2000 was basically the year of fraud, where we were just losing more and more and more money every month. At one point we were losing over $10 million per month in fraud.

I could not sleep well for 4 years. If you are in charge of technology at a really fast-growing company that gets lots of publicity, there's always something that worries you.

The most surprising thing was how big it became. I never thought it was going to be that big.

Try to have a good cofounder. I think it's all about people, and, if you are doing it completely alone, it's really hard. It's not impossible, in particular if you are a loner and introverted type, but it's still really hard. [...] you only can count on energy sources and support sources from yourself. There's really no one else who you can go to and say, "Hey, this thing is going to fall apart any minute now. What the hell are we going to do?"

If you have a good team, you are halfway there.

It's very sad that, when you buy a company, you have to sort of squash a lot of the original stuff, but if you don't, you foster this festering of distrust and dislike. So you just have to get through the unpleasant bits as fast as you can and go on doing business. Which doesn't make it any easier for the early people or the founders, but I don't know any other format in which you can acquire companies. You could let them be on their own, but then you aren't really getting any of the benefits.

I think the hallmark of a really good entrepreneur is that you're not really going to build one specific company. The goal – at least the way I think about entrepreneurship – is you realize one day that you can't really work for anyone else. You have to start your own thing. It almost doesn't matter what that thing is. We had six different business plan changes, and then the last one was PayPal.

Sabeer Bhatia, Cofounder, Hotmail

There was not that much to protect in terms of IP. Whoever built it first would win the market.

When you are hardware designers, you have tremendously more discipline in writing and describing software because in hardware you cannot get it wrong. Every turn of every chip costs you millions of dollars, so when hardware designers design any piece of software, they normally get it right.

That's one thing about the Internet: if you have something that's good, it spreads by word of mouth and like wildfire.

The usage patterns of how people used the Internet were baffling to us.

I think I knew that Hotmail was going to become successful one day. I was just shocked that all of that happened in a span of 20 months from start to finish.

Sometimes ideas are born out of necessity: you solve a problem for yourself, and you hopefully solve it for a number of other people too.

Make sure you write a business plan because it will crystallize your thoughts to communicate your ideas with somebody else. Make sure that once you have written your business plan, you have somebody read and critique it and ask you questions.

A business plan is nothing more than your own communication to a person not sitting in front of you – an imaginary person who will read it. Try to answer every possible question that that person could raise.

Steve Wozniak, Cofounder, Apple

For a lot of entrepreneurs, they see something and they say, "I have to have this", and that will start them building their own.

My whole life was basically trying to optimize things.

All the best things that I did at Apple came from (a) not having money, and (b) not having done it before, ever. Every single thing that we came out with that was really great, I'd never once done that thing in my life.

[...] I was super shy, so the only way I could ever get noticed was if I designed great things.

Always seek excellence: make your product better than the average person would.

So the money to me didn't really mean much. Pretty much I gave it all away to charities, to museums, to children's groups, to everything I could. It almost was like an evil to me. That was because it wasn't the motivation that I was after, and I wanted to remain the person that I would have been without Apple.

Joe Kraus, Cofounder, Excite

So I show up for work on my first day and the job is to duplicate microfiche with three 70-year-old women. For a 19-year-old guy, this is hell. [...] I kind of determined from that point forward that my life wasn't going to be about being in an office, working with people I didn't want to work with and doing jobs I didn't want to do.

We were so naive we didn't know we could fail, and therefore we almost had to succeed.

We were too young to realize that existing companies' biggest problem is legacy. They can't focus on new businesses because they've got to manage their old ones.

"Success is 50 percent luck and 50 percent preparedness for that luck."

Dan Bricklin, Cofounder, Software Arts

Bob and I always wanted to found a business together. We both had parents who were entrepreneurs, so the idea of running your own business was a normal thing. There are people who come from backgrounds where they're used to working for a company, and they couldn't dream of doing it themselves and not having that safety net. When your parents and family are entrepreneurs, you know it's nothing special.

We didn't think it would be as big as it is now, because nothing had done that in the past, though we thought it was real important. But you always do, as an entrepreneur. Everybody feels that way about what they're doing. You need that drive.

When the people you looked up to as the pros have switched to your stuff, that meant something.

If we hadn't been sued, I would have done pretty well financially, because Bob and I owned most of the company at the time.

There's fame and fortune. I didn't get much fortune out of it, but, on the other hand, the fame has basically given me a meal ticket ever since, and I learned a lot from it, and the rest of my life has been pretty good. All in all, I can't complain. I did a lot better than I ever expected to, in all sorts of ways. So there are no regrets about that.

Mitchell Kapor, Cofounder, Lotus Development

I wanted to do really a great product. Almost from day one I understood that I was passionate about the applications themselves, that they'd be integrated, easier to use and be powerful. They'd help make people more productive and I cared a lot about that. The other thing I wanted was financial independence. I had an enormous desire not to be dependent on other people, or to have to have a job.

The other thing that I cared about a lot right from the very beginning was creating a workplace that treated people well.

I became a minor league celebrity in Boston, being recognized in restaurants, and that was weird. And people started to act differently around me, because when people are seen as having power or they're seen as having some special resources, people get weird because they project their fantasies onto the person or they start telling you what they think you want to hear. If you watch people around Sergey Brin and Larry Page from Google, it's very amusing, but, to be the recipient of that... I wasn't particularly prepared for, nor did I want most of that.

I think business at all costs is just wrong. I think there are certain things that you just don't do, and that acting with integrity and decency in business to me is just a given. I simply don't compromise on those things.

You can't tell people what they don't want to hear because they won't care and it's just a waste of breath.

Ray Ozzie, Founder, Iris Associates, Groove Networks

I'm an engineer by training and I tend to be one of these people who believes he can accomplish basically anything in software – it's just a big toolbox. So if you know that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to, what's worth accomplishing?

So you don't want to fill today's needs, but try to capture some window that will happen in the future.

With technology, there's no such thing as a sustainable advantage, but you can get a good running start if you concentrate on doing something hard really well.

The best kind of company is one where you don't have to take any money.

[...] building a market in something that's new can be as, if not more, challenging than building the technology. We were building some very complex technology, and I thought, since we were developing to what seemed to be a fairly straightforward customer value proposition, going to market would be a lot easier.

Frequently, people think just running from school out into doing a startup is the best thing to do. But I think that getting some experience within a number of companies is really positive because you meet people and you start to develop patterns in your mind of the types of people that you need, and the types of people that you can trust, and the types of people you never want to work with.

Evan Williams, Cofounder, Pyra Labs (

We launched it in August and we had a dilemma on our hands right away, of course, because we now had a product that people were using, but it wasn't the "real" product. The problem was, we didn't see a business in Blogger.

I was always hallucinogenically optimistic. That's the only reason I kept going. Not because I thought I could take this suckiness for a long time, but that it's going to be better tomorrow.

I think one of the things that kills great things so often is compromise – letting people talk you out of what your gut is telling you. Not that I don't value people's input, but you have to have the strength to ignore it sometimes, too. If you feel really strongly, there might be something to that, and if you see something that other people don't see, it could be because it's that powerful and different. If everyone agrees, it's probably because you're not doing anything original.

I always look back on the deals that we didn't do and the things that didn't work out, and realize what seemed like a bummer at the time was really lucky.

If you have some plan and it doesn't go that way, roll with it. There's no way to know if it's good or bad until later, if ever.

How far you can get on a simple idea is amazing.

Tim Brady, First Non-Founding Employee, Yahoo

Looking back, I don't think I understood the time commitment or the emotional commitment it takes to get something off the ground.

You enjoyed being at work, even though sometimes it was 16, 18 hours a day.

Certainly they don't teach you in business school to go point to your competitors, but it sent the right message to the users, which was, "It's all about you. We're going to get you the data you want. If it exists on the Web, we're going to find it for you, even if we don't make money off of it directly." But it keeps people coming back because they know we have their best interest in mind.

Mike Lazaridis, Cofounder, Research In Motion

When you have access to state-of-the-art education, and you know how to use these machines – and you are comfortable with them – you just have to make that one leap to realize that you can actually help people. There is a need for that kind of experience, but the problem was that a lot of these companies didn't know they had that need. It was just a matter of breaking out of your shell and going out and talking to them – looking in the newspapers, looking in local message boards, talking to different companies, asking if they needed any work done. Basically, you had to do a little bit of sales.

We need to make sure that we are allowing students to be exposed to future technology and not reducing it to current – what a lot of people would like to say, "relevant" teaching.

I gave up my childhood ambition, to continue building wireless data products.

We had email on our business cards back when other business cards had Telex numbers on them.

Arthur van Hoff, Cofounder, Marimba

So we decided to do a startup, though we literally had no idea what we were going to make.

Over the years, I've learned that the first idea you have is irrelevant. It's just a catalyst for you to get started. Then you figure out what's wrong with it and you go through phases of denial, panic, regret. And then you finally have a better idea and the second idea is always the important one.

Anybody can run a company up to 100 people. You just have to be intelligent and have good intuition. There's a lot of tedious work you need to do, but it's not that hard. But there's a point when the company gets bigger that it just becomes a management problem; it becomes something that you have to have experience in.

[...] as a founder, you have the skills to start companies from scratch, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you have the skill to grow it till they're larger.

Paul Buchheit, Creator, Gmail

Mostly what I do doesn't turn into anything, because I like to just try out ideas and a lot of them don't go anywhere.

The most fun was, of course, launching. Nothing is more exciting than finally getting it out there for the world and seeing that people like it.

Sometimes people think that these guys just got lucky, and luck is always a factor in everything, but it isn't sufficient. It takes more than luck to build something that successful.

People have a narrow concept of what's possible, and we're limited more by our own ideas about what's possible than what really is possible.

Steve Perlman, Cofounder, WebTV

We were just working around the clock, literally. What I would typically do is not sleep for 2 nights; then I would get 4 hours of sleep and go back to work for another 2 days in a row, and then get 4 hours, and so on.

When you cofound something, you've got to have people that have a similar kind of perspective on where you're going to take the thing. Otherwise you're just locking horns all the time.

The worst thing that can happen to a startup is if the founding team – or the people who are leading the thing – do not get along. And it's deadly when they don't get along in front of the troops.

Mike Ramsay, Cofounder, TiVo


Paul Graham, Cofounder, Viaweb

We spent a long time trying to convince these people to use something they didn't want before we had the idea that maybe we should make something people actually did want.

The prospect of having to write desktop software was horrifying to us, because at the time, writing desktop software meant writing Windows software. Neither of us knew how to write Windows software and we didn't want to learn. It seemed like this huge steaming turd that was best just avoided. So the main thing we thought when we first had the idea of doing web-based applications was, "Thank God, we don't have to write software on Windows."

We were software guys. Maybe someone who knew more about business would be thinking about going and getting customers, but frankly the idea of customers frightened us. We thought, "Before we go get any customers, why don't we just write a few more thousand lines of code?"

It's never a deal till the money's in the bank.

We didn't seem very businesslike for the same reason we didn't seem very well dressed. We just didn't bother with that stuff. But we did concentrate on the stuff that really mattered, which was making users happy.

Our strategy for selling our software to people was: make the best software and then tell them, truthfully, "this is the best software." And they could tell we were telling the truth. Another advantage of telling the truth is that you don't have to remember what you've said.

People start startups to get rich, but what keeps them going day to day is the fear of failure. You've said, "OK, I'm starting this startup and I'm going to get all the users and be successful", and once you've told everybody that's what you're doing, if you fail you'll look like a fool.

Make something people want. If you make something users want, they will be happy, and you can translate that happiness into money. That is the basis of a startup.

The mistake that a lot of founders make is to build something they think users want, but that users don't actually want.

Joshua Schachter, Founder,

There's a great deal of crap that has to be executed better than competently that is no value for you to actually do yourself. So outsource that.

Whatever it is, question every single aspect of conventional wisdom. "Is that the right way to do it or can we break that and make it better?"

Constraints breed creativity.

You don't really know if it's a good idea until you've executed it.

Mark Fletcher, Founder, ONElist, Bloglines

Solve a problem that you have, first and foremost, and chances are, other people may have the same problem.

My philosophy on these types of companies – consumer-based Internet companies – is that you don't need to worry about the business model initially. If you get users, then everything else follows. Basically any technology can be copied, any concept can be copied. In my opinion, what makes one of these companies valuable is the users. That can't be copied.

So just get something out there. If you find really early versions of ONElist or Bloglines on, the websites are horrible. They are crap, they don't have any features, they just try to do one thing. And you just iterate because users are going to tell you what they want, and they're your best feedback. It's critical just to get something out quickly. Just to start shipping and then you can iterate.

In my opinion, the best thing for your company is just release early, release often. Because then you start a dialog with your users, because they're going to send you emails saying, "This is what I want". [...] Once you start acting on those features suggestions, the users see that you are actually listening to them and they become more loyal to your site.

Craig Newmark, Founder, craigslist

That's a microcosm of our whole history: people would suggest things to me, and then I would figure out what seemed to make sense – what a lot of people were asking for – and then I'd do it. Even now, with a whole company behind it, we listen. We do stuff, we follow through, and then we listen more. What we do is almost 100 percent based on what people ask us to do.

The biggest entrepreneurial lesson I've learned has been that you really do need to follow your instincts.

Banner ads are, more often than not, kind of dumb. More importantly, I thought about my own values and I was thinking, "Hey, how much money do I need?" I was already doing well as a contractor. So I figured I would just not do that.

What surprises me, in a way, is how almost universally people are trustworthy and good.

Caterina Fake, Cofounder, Flickr

There are a lot of companies that are virtual companies – a bunch of people that are living in different places, but I think that's tough. You can do it with one or two people, but I think for the most part, everybody being in the same place is important.

The money was scarce, but I'm a big believer that constraints inspire creativity. The less money you have, the fewer people and resources you have, the more creative you have to become.

The whole thing has been a surprise. We started out expecting to do the game and we ended up doing a photo-sharing site. We never expected that, could not have planned that.

Obviously when you start a business you hope and pray that it will be successful, but I think it's also something of a surprise when it actually happens.

Brewster Kahle, Founder, WAIS, Internet Archive, Alexa Internet

Do your homework before you are spending your own money.

[...] if you're trying to get your company to think differently – to do something interesting – pick your setting carefully. [...] Working in an environment where, if you got stuck, you'd go for a long walk is very different than trying to do a startup and think differently if you're in Suite 201 in some major office complex.

Having your own company means that it's much harder to blame somebody else. If you are working inside a big company, you can always blame management, marketing, engineering, or something. But, when you are running it, you can't, because it's all your responsibility.

Carrying a company is a lot of weight. You have to make sure that you keep on the uptick – not just financially, but also make it so that it's a fun environment and people want to work there.

So we got lots and lots of users – millions, tens of millions of users – but we couldn't figure out how to make the business work.

Pick a big enough project, something that's really hard, something that over the years you can work on.

Marvin Minsky

If you just set out to go and make a lot of money, then the problem is, what happens when you make a lot of money? You're out of ideas.

I try to make sure that every year there's some accomplishment that you can actually point at and say, "OK, this year I'm going to do this."

Charles Geschke, Cofounder, Adobe Systems

There's a very high risk when you're a single-product company that eventually a combination of changes in the technological landscape and changes in the competitive landscape will eventually cause you to begin losing market share. And once you lose market share, then your revenue and earnings begin to fall.

If you're only focused on the market today, by the time you introduce your solution to that problem, there'll probably be several others already entrenched. It will be hard to dislodge them, and hard to convince people that what you have is so much better that they should make a change. Much better to figure out where the marketplace is going to be in a few years, focus on providing a solution to that, and let the market forces catch up to you.

John and I were convinced early on not only that you couldn't restrict yourself to a single product, but you couldn't restrict yourself to a single sales channel to get your product to market either.

[...] you have to be willing to move on, even if you've got a real success.

I know I can speak for John on this too, but the biggest thrill is frankly not the financial success, it's the ability to have an impact. Because we're both engineers at heart and that's every engineer's dream – to build something that millions of people will use.

The product lines that are bringing in the most revenue believe that they have a right to all the resources of the company. Part of good management, and part of the attitude of a startup, is to recognize that, while those businesses are incredibly successful today and you hope they'll be successful for a long time, the law of averages and experience tells you that at some point they will peak and they will probably begin to decay. So you've got to be investing today in what your future's going to be 5 or 10 years out.

When we started, we wanted to build a company that we would like to work at and we kept applying that criterion.

If you aren't passionate about what you are going to do, don't do it.

Ann Winblad, Cofounder, Open Systems, Hummer Winblad

I think this is something that people underestimate – that there are always people out there rooting for you.

Most companies do not fail because some competitor crushed them. There's a small amount of failures where the competition was underestimated. There's a small amount in the software category where the technical achievement needed to bring a high-value product could never be reached. But the majority of companies fail by self-inflicted wounds by the leadership team.

Think like a big dog, and find leverage to get there.

David Heinemeier Hansson, Partner, 37signals

The funny thing is that most people were impressed by all the stuff Basecamp didn't do.

First we built the audience and then we figured out a product.

We always give a major update within 30 days after we launch a new product. Because that's really something that reinforces people's feelings about the project. If they buy in on day one and then they see a major new update after 2 weeks, they're really pleased.

We got into a pretty good mode that, whenever we wanted to do something new, we would brainstorm some ideas and try to look for the idea that required the least amount of work.

It's good to be market-driven in the sense that you should know what's going on, but you can't let your customers drive your product development. You need to be able to innovate on behalf of your customers, but they often don't know what they want.

Philip Greenspun, Cofounder, ArsDigita

Most of the business was because we'd released free open source software. The 15-year-olds would just use it, and the big companies would decide that, since they had so much money and I guess not enough good programmers, it made sense for them to pay us to help them out with it.

Almost all of our marketing and sales was educational. We just thought, "We'll teach people stuff, and some tiny fraction of those people will become our customers."

The people who were really good software engineers were usually great writers; they had tremendous ability to organize their thoughts and communicate. The people who were sort of average-quality programmers and had trouble thinking about the larger picture were the ones who couldn't write.

I think there's an emotional component to why programmers are being offshored: it's simply that the businesspeople hate them.

We built the company a little too fast, and consequently the last 50 percent of the people hired really didn't have much commitment to the corporate culture.

Managing your company might be harder than managing Microsoft because Microsoft has $40 billion in cash, so they can recover from mistakes that you won't be able to recover from.

Fundamentally, if you have a lemonade stand, you have to sell your lemonade for more than it costs you to make. That's really all you need to know to run a company.

You can't turn an employee into a businessman. The employee only cares about making his boss happy. The customer might be unhappy and the shareholders are taking a beating, but if the boss is happy, the employee gets a raise. By contrast, the businessman cares about getting a customer, taking his money, not spending too much serving that customer, and then selling something more to the same customer.

A lot of the traditional skills of a manager were kind of irrelevant when you only have two or three-person teams building something.

Once you have a product that nobody wants, it doesn't matter how good your management team is.

Managing programmers is tough. That's one reason I don't miss IT, because programmers are very unlikable people. They're not pleasant to manage.

Programmers almost all walk around with a huge overestimate of their capabilities and their value in an organization. That's why a lot of them are very bitter. They sit stewing at their desks because the management isn't doing things their way.

Joel Spolsky, Cofounder, Fog Creek Software

We had to raise the price a couple of times. We didn't have to, but raising the price actually increased the number of units that we sold. I guess because it looked more legitimate with the more realistic price.

The one thing we learned over 5 years is that nothing works better than just improving your product.

Don't pay any attention to the competition. They're not relevant to you. Only talk to your customers and your potential customers and see what it is that caused them not to buy your product or would cause them to buy more copies of it. And do that, and then ship it.

Merely copying the product that another company makes does not make you successful.

Why listen to our customers indirectly through what our competitors do when we can just talk to our customers? So my mantra has always been, "Listen to your customers, not your competitors".

Don't start a company unless you can convince one other person to go along with you.

Stephen Kaufer, Cofounder, TripAdvisor

Unless you have somebody who has an interest in talking with whoever you're selling your product or service to, your product isn't going to turn out to be what the customer wants.

Certainly the most surprising to me was how much people voluntarily share their experiences.

It's not a sign of failure to change your vision.

Be wary of distractions, but if you're lightning-focused on just one thing and aren't willing to consider others, you probably don't have the flexibility to make it when things don't go according to plan. That's the one truism: things won't go according to plan.

If we're not failing at something on a regular basis, we're just not trying hard enough.

The difference in almost any position between someone who does a good job and someone who does a great job might be 20 percent more in salary, but it's 100 or 200 percent more in throughput.

James Hong, Cofounder, Hot or Not

There was no plan for a business, it was just, "How the fuck do we keep this thing going?" We weren't trying to figure out what kind of boat we needed to build, we were trying to keep from drowning. But we did know a few things: we had to reduce our costs, we had to make it make money somehow, and we needed more machines.

It's ironic that I have an MBA and also started a company before that had raised venture capital, but the one idea that worked was all an accident.

The biggest roadblock to the entrepreneur are liabilities in your life. It's not whether or not you can be a good entrepreneur, it's whether you have to make a mortgage payment or support other people.

Experience will come when you face certain problems and live through them. And the best way to do that is to put yourself squarely in the path of those problems.

I think entrepreneurs want to make money. It's not that they do it for the money, but they want to make money. Because money is the measuring stick; it's how they know if they've won or not. And I think a lot of what drives entrepreneurs is the kind of legacy they are going to leave. They want to make a mark in the world and feel like their life mattered. Entrepreneurs are the kind of people who love ideas and want to build things, and add value to the world.

The hardest thing is to say, "I'm going to put myself in the position of being an entrepreneur by having ideas and trying things, and not giving up when I fail."

You never know unless you try, and we live in a world where building websites and other small things doesn't take that much time and effort to try, so why not just try different things?

There's no right path. There is no one plan that fits every business; you have to figure it out yourself. There is no magic formula.

I don't spend that much money because once you get used to spending money, it's very hard to get unused to. Happiness is reality compared to expectations. If I have low expectations for material things in my life, then I'll be happy. If I get used to fancy meals all the time, not only will it ruin McDonald's for me, but even the fancy food would become normal, and then it's not meaningful.

James Currier, Founder, Tickle


Blake Ross, Creator, Firefox

It's hard to under-promise and over-deliver when everyone's promising things for you.

It's hard to convince 500 flesh-and-blood developers that their pet feature may not be desirable to 500 million imaginary users, especially when you have no hard evidence to back it up.

I thought marketing was something that required a degree and formal experience. It turns out that marketing is just making the product good enough that people spread it on their own, and giving them ways to do that. It's a lot easier and more natural than I thought it would be. Now I can't stand meeting with professional marketers who try to "craft" the "message" and all that junk.

Make sure you are always in communication with the people who are eventually going to use your product. It's very easy to just lock yourself in a room and code all day, and you forget what the real problems are that people are having. So you have to keep talking to people and keep refining what you are doing.

If you're doing a startup and you're relaxed, you should be very worried.

Mena Trott, Cofounder, Six Apart

Working out of the home is the hardest thing to do, because you can never leave work.

We knew what we knew, which was the product. But there were all these little things that you just have no clue about. It was incredibly overwhelming. But if you think about it too much, then you don't do it. You almost have to not know what you're getting into to actually do it.

Don't apologize for wanting to be a company. You see so many people who say, "Oh, we won't charge; things should be free." It's like you don't think you're worth being paid for your time.

What we have to realize is that we've had so many good opportunities and we've learned so much that, if everything failed tomorrow, we would still have gotten so much out of it.

Bob Davis, Founder, Lycos

I think the life of an entrepreneur is a life of setbacks, challenges, disappointments, and failures. It's not how you celebrate the successes, it's how you overcome the adversity and the hardship that determines how the business succeeds.

People don't realize that a rapidly growing company is crumbling within and feels pain every hour of every day because nothing works the way it was designed as little as a year before.

In a growth business – which is where you always want to be as an entrepreneur, because it's a lot more fun than the alternative – things are breaking every day.

We sold Lycos for $5.4 billion, which represented a return on venture capital investment of about 300'000 percent.

Ron Gruner, Cofounder, Alliant Computer Systems; Founder,

Being engineers, we probably overengineered the business plan to give it extremely detailed financials.

You can almost always take a negative situation and turn it to your advantage if you work hard at it.

Anytime we had a client situation that blew up – and those happen in the business, things go wrong – we would always say, "How do we take this and turn this into a big opportunity, where the client comes back even more loyal than they were before?"

Things never work out right the first time. You've always got to do it two or three times to get it right. And things always go wrong. So persistence is the key to success.