What’s your backstory?
Well it all started out back in high-school, as a child I was very tall, like 6 ft tall by 12 years old. I played varsity football my freshman year and I remember the economy wasn’t very good because at the time I was 134 and my parents were working a ton! So I would spend my free time at the library in order to stay away from the gang activity and other things going on in the streets. I also remember they held this contest, where you could get points for taking test on books you’ve read. One of the hacks that I found while doing this contest was that if you read reference books or the “boring books” you would get a lot of points! So I started to pick up the “For Dummies” series and eventually I came by a book on “how to build a website” and then another on “how to program”.
While reading these I eventually thought to myself, “Maybe I can do this myself” the information seemed tangible enough why not? That led me to anonymously start building websites on the side. At the time programing and website design wasn’t exactly cool and I didn’t want anyone at my school to find out. A couple years later I learned about click-through rates when a business contacted me about banner space on one of the websites I was running. At the time I simply just wanted to buy a laptop so I could stop going to the library, but as soon as I realized I could help my family with this skill, I was hooked.
I remember my first desk was made out of two of my mom’s plastic hampers flipped upside down and the deal I made with my father, I could do whatever I pleased on the internet so long as I kept my grades up in school and paid half the bill. I loved the feeling of independence I felt being able to help. Little did I know that just wanting to help my family would somehow be the start of my entrepreneurial career.
What is your definition of success?
My definition of success is igniting the ember inside of everyone I work with so that they can set their goals based on their potential, not their ability. Ultimately, the impact and growth is what is the most addicting as an entrepreneur. Once you’ve made enough money to cover your needs, you have to look beyond yourself to stay driven. The game does not get easier, but you do get better, and that personal growth becomes intoxicating.
My partner and great friend, Mort Fleischer (STORE Capital, NYSE: STORE, Chairman), taught me to be addicted to the joy of achievement. It never ends. My success is measured by my ability to lead my team and serve our customers. That encapsulates product, marketing, service, leadership, and the velocity I have toward my never-ending pursuit of surpassing my potential.
If someone would want to emulate your career, what would you suggest are the most important things to do?
I always suggest that if people want to emulate my career, they have to look deep inside of themselves to figure out what drives them. It takes a team to build a brand that can withstand market conditions for decades, so realizing that you can’t do it alone is a humbling experience. My job is to create the opportunity for the best people in the world to join our team and be apart of changing an industry. There are hundreds of markets that need innovation and for the first time, the internet has enabled the fast to eat the slow. Focus on done, not perfect, in the beginning, but quickly move towards the line of being the best.If you are not at least 10-times better than other choices on the market, you need to focus on your winning product or service, and ruthlessly iterate until you are proud to show off what you have built.
Our investors have been our customers and they are who we ultimately answer to. We have elevated their standards, so it’s a race to continuously “wow” them with products that not only work, but are exciting to acquire. A few companies, like Apple, have done this to a massive scale. Growing Snow demands the culmination of our very best abilities and a market that has been so welcoming to our innovation. We hope to be the Apple or the Dyson of our industry one day. If it takes 50 years, we are willing to race the marathon toward realizing our potential and giving everything we have to our customers.