October 30, 2018
LLR Partners regularly brings together the leaders of our portfolio companies to exchange knowledge and share best practices on accelerating and managing growth. CEO Collaborate is our annual event designed to foster a peer network among our CEOs and give them an exclusive forum to gain both inspiration and practical advice for scaling their businesses.
This year, we were thrilled to host Angela Duckworth, a pioneering psychologist and author of New York Times best seller Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, as our keynote speaker.
In her late twenties, Angela left a demanding job as a management consultant to teach math to seventh graders in the New York City public schools. Several years in the classroom taught her that effort was tremendously important to success. To begin to solve the mystery of why some people work so much harder and longer than others, Angela entered the PhD program in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is now a professor. She is also a 2013 MacArthur Fellow and Founder & CEO of Character Lab.
At CEO Collaborate 2018, Angela shared her findings on why some people succeed and others fail, and led our portfolio company CEOs in a discussion on how to build grit in their organizations.
Angela recently published a new article on Organizational Grit in Harvard Business Review that integrates psychological research at the individual level with contemporary perspectives on organizational cultures. In the article, she and co-author Thomas H. Lee, MD, the Chief Medical Officer at Press Ganey, share new insight on how to ensure that passion and perseverance in the pursuit of a common goal are the social norms at individual, team, and institutional levels.
Scaling a Business
LLR’s CEO Collaborate 2018 also featured an exclusive discussion with Smith Yewell, CEO of Welocalize, a realized LLR portfolio company. Smith co-founded Welocalize with his wife Julia in 1997. Celebrating the company’s 20th anniversary, Smith shared, “What inspires me is the challenge of transforming a business, revolutionizing an industry, and doing things differently. When I see this inspiration reflected in our company culture and strategy, and seeing people achieve more than they thought possible for themselves, colleagues, and customers – this is what guides Welocalize into the next phase of our journey.”
Smith shared his experience founding and scaling a business over 20 years, providing insight into the people, operational and strategic challenges that come with growth. Here are five of his key insights for CEOs:
- Even after you’ve been at the helm for a long time and built a strong team, a CEO’s two primary responsibilities must still be leading the brand/culture and keeping the company focused.
- The less the CEO is involved at times the better – as you grow, you have to learn to let go of certain things and trust the people around you.
- Your growth plan shouldn’t include any more than one thing at a time that you’ve never done before. Otherwise you’ll lose focus on the core business and spread yourself thin trying to innovate.
- As you grow and open multiple offices, the CEO must make time to visit them all. You may think you’re too busy, but you’re not. Make time and never cut back on this. You’ll never get to know everyone personally but committing the time to connect matters to the employees.
- As a leader, never commiserate with complaints or compromise on a challenge to your culture. Hold the line on your values, always.
Throughout our Collaborate dinner and program, CEOs had time to discuss their real-time challenges 1:1 with other CEOs and in small group sessions. They also benefited from direct connections with peers in their respective industries.
Read more about LLR Partners’ series of Collaboration events for our portfolio executives and our network.
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