Do you think Domain7 has stayed true to its roots? There seem to be elements of a people-first, co-creation ethos in the founding story.
Totally. There is a lot of things that are just in the DNA. I look back even on some of our early stuff that we did, and some of it’s actually pretty close to our thinking right now. We were creating a platform-sharing dynamic for non-profits back then, and we were talking about it as a way to come together to understand shared challenges and opportunities and act in ways that were collaborative and cooperative.
How have you seen the landscape around these values shift, or not shift, over the last 20 years?
I think that we underestimate how much organizations have changed. We set the bar high for the future, and we should. I think that we often forget how far our businesses have come, and forget what business life and expectations were like back then. It’s a whole series of nudges over a long period of time that add up to some pretty significant change.
You champion a humanized style of leadership. How would you describe your leadership learning journey?
In one word, painful.
It’s repeatedly encountering areas where you need to acknowledge that you don’t know more than you do. You have to be ready to be humbled by processes that you feel an obligation as a leader to be able to somehow manage and make happen, but you don’t know how. Especially when you start something small as one person. What you need then is very different than what you need if you have two people, or 20 people, or 50 people.
I found that to be hugely rewarding, and also hugely challenging. It requires a lot of learning and an ability to go into awkward and difficult situations that often point out one’s own shortcomings and failings. There’s a lot of learning in that.