Reflect on What Matters
An important consideration that contributed to my decision to join a small team of 6 or 7 people as the company’s first sales hire out of our headquarters in Palo Alto was the opportunity to be a part of a John Doerr backed company. Admittedly, I knew high-level details of John and ended up spending a sleepless winter night in December learning about his business career as the deadline on a final decision loomed. It isn’t difficult to uncover a seemingly endless list of accomplishments and his influence on our world as we know it today. However, it wasn’t the accomplishments or his influence that were the tipping point but a lecture he gave to Stanford GSB on “What to Look for When Joining a Company.”
I connected with ‘The Missionary.’ The mission of helping change the way companies and employees think about goal-setting through OKRs was magnetic. A unique opportunity to play a key role in building a company from the ground floor - $0 in ARR and 0 customers - while helping employees and companies get more focused and aligned on what matters all the while building a set of skills that will benefit me for the rest of my life. The experience has been the most rewarding of my career (so far!) and the learning opportunity has been so significant that it feels impossible to even think of how to quantify it.
I’ve put a lot of thought into the impact various people have had on my life from family, friends, colleagues, sometimes people I haven't met and what they have taught me. At some point early during my time at BetterWorks, I explained to my parents, with my best sports analogy, that John Doerr was the Michael Jordan of business. The analogy always felt right and looking back on the last 5 years, I have been incredibly fortunate to have learned some very important, life lessons really, from John along with one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
5 months into my time at BetterWorks I was able to secure an important meeting with an executive with a B2B unicorn. It was the first sales call I went on with John and thankfully, not the last. Waiting in the lobby, along with our CEO, we did our best to bring him up to speed on the account and how we were going to present our solution. Filled with excitement and nerves, we were all over the place calling out areas where we believed our solution would deliver value. In a matter of 10 seconds, we must have rattled off 5-7 areas where we believed we would add value and it did not appear we were going to stop.
Before we could go on any further, John interrupted the two of us - “What are the 3 areas we will make the biggest impact.”
It was succinct. It was focussed. It was simple. It reinforced that less is more. It was a learning moment for me that will always be ever present.
Later that day, my CEO and I received an email from John and the last line read, “You were great today at Dropbox.”
At the end of the year, I led the team to a massive win for the company as we brought our first year of the company to a close. It was for a company-wide deployment of OKRs with a well known, hyper-growth tech company (not Dropbox). This was one of those wins that energized the entire company. The ‘win-notice’ went out to the company and ended up getting forwarded to our board. Before the end of the day, John replied to the entire company:
Kris, Matt, team Betterworks…
I love the backstory. I love our team. I love Matt!
Ideas are easy, EXECUTION is EVERYTHING, and it takes a TEAM (using Betterworks) to WIN!
Suddenly the feeling of reward from this milestone deal for the company took a backseat to the feeling I had from the way I was recognized by someone I admired, in front of the entire company.
Last week I was fortunate to have the chance to travel with John to Chicago to meet with the Obama Foundation to talk with the team about implementing OKRs. As John was introduced to the team, he then introduced me as a ‘national expert on OKRs,’ to which I proudly responded that I was in my 5th year of the "John Doerr OKR Ph.D. program." 5 years into The Mission, I was with John introducing the OKR methodology to one of the most inspiring teams I’ve been around. Every single one of them on a mission to inspire, empower, and connect people to change their world.
In June of 2018, John’s first book, Measure What Matters, was the #1 New York Times Best Sellers for Business. Upon landing in San Jose later that evening after our meeting with the Obama Foundation, John began clapping for the pilots. As I joined him clapping, he looked over at me and said, “Genuine recognition goes a long ways.”
It was that experience, on September 26, 2018, that caused me to ‘Reflect on What Matters,’ - the power of being a ‘missionary,’ genuine recognition, and keeping it simple.