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Glenn Kelman Quotes

Glenn Kelman

Glenn Kelman quotes: the Redfin CEO speaks on business and life in general.

“Almost everything is interesting if you work at it.”

“You have to be sort of an emotional steward to really get a business to do something hard—to take people up the hill, to conquer the mountain, to sack the city. You have got to be a maniac.”

“Startups can be the most conservative organizations in the world. We spend so much energy nurturing our delicate egos against naysayers and self-doubt that we can hardly admit mistakes.”

“To build a great business, you have to do something hard, just to be able to withstand all the competition that will later come your way. And since that usually takes time, you need a mission larger than just making money, otherwise everyone will quit once he has enough money or decides he doesn’t have enough; it’s like trying to tame a lion by starving him, but not so much that he eats you.”

“Slow investing can have the same impact on startups that slow food has had on cuisine: good things come to those who wait.”

“Sometimes it takes a little longer for better to win.”

“I think all of us getting into a business have that voice of risky business in our head, but we also have that chart in our face, which says that fortune favors the bold. So right now, I think there’s more risk-taking than ever.”

“I do think entrepreneurs need to be smart, but there’s another scale I never evaluated myself on that is now the source of my deepest strength: not how much brains I have, but how much love I have.”

“Behind the driven person is just an enormous amount of misery. You have to be miserable with the status quo to want to change it.”

“I learned that it’s important to treat yourself like a work in progress, to think about how you can improve, to listen to feedback.”

“What you got to keep alive is the intimacy, the energy, this crazed sense of purpose.”

“When you start a company, you become really emotionally involved in it.”

“I learned that people love to be good at things, even the silliest things.”

“Startups alternate between nostalgia for the garage and millennial longing for a lucrative exit. But what I always keep in mind is how disconnected and purposeless I felt before Redfin or my earlier startup, Plumtree. All I ever wanted was to get into a situation where I could win. Everybody has that dream.”

“In some ways, it’s better to be undervalued a little than overvalued a lot, just because it’s still easy to believe our best days are ahead of us.”

“Any educated person recognizes that curiosity and creativity aren’t just important; they are among the essential human activities.”

“If you build a better mousetrap, regardless of your marketing budget, the world will beat its own path to your door.”

“We don’t need to take the world by storm. We just need to make our customers happy, and when we do that, the word spreads.”

“It’s easy to grow 300% in your first year or two, when you’re starting with nothing and people first hear about your service. What separates a potential colossus from other businesses is the capacity to keep growing at that rate in years four, five, and beyond.”

“So many tech companies have embraced a mission that they say is larger than profits. Once you wrap yourself up in a moral flag, you have to carry it to the top of other hills.”

“The core hacker premise that ‘code wins arguments’ is just another way of saying that anything is worth trying, regardless of whether it is a conservative or liberal idea, and that whatever works is worth keeping.”

“You wanna work on something big so that if you win, everybody wins, and you really have an impact on the world. And that can get you out of bed.”

“Most CEOs walk around the office like we own the place, without realizing that the place itself isn’t worth owning: a business’s value comes from the people who walk out the door every night, who have to decide each morning whether to walk back in. One of the simplest things you can do as a leader is honor their choice and appreciate their work.”

“When staff just starts to accept mediocrity, stops being passionate, stops being innovative, stops being creative, I’m fighting against that as a leader by working my ass off. You can’t ask other people to work hard while you’re taking a vacation to the planet Pluto. You have to be the first one to go into that dark cave. You have to be the first one to sweep the floors. And so I think speaking passionately about what you care about and then acting that way is important.”

“If your earnings call is the only reason you exist, as soon as you slip on a banana peel, no one is going to stay there.”

“People can smell a lack of respect from a mile away.”

“Small, unnoticeable acts of generosity are sometimes the most impressive.”

“Be nice and encouraging to people, always. You can be very driven and still be nice.”

“Over the years, I just started paying a lot more attention not to whether I was right or wrong, but just to how I make people feel.”

“I think the corporate world is pretty starved for personality. The reason you have comic strips like Dilbert and sitcoms like The Office is that people just can’t be genuine human beings in a corporate environment. So if you can really be your own self, even if it’s a little bit different, I think people are really drawn to that.”

“I learned you don’t always get to decide when you’ve got to make a decision.”

“Business schools and conferences have institutionalized entrepreneurialism as an avocation like law or medicine when it is more often a streak of temperament, luck and inspiration. Far from a program taught by somebody else, entrepreneurialism has always been for me my only shot at being myself.”

“What employing thousands of people in the middle of the country has taught me is how good and hard-working Americans in all cities are, and how much most of the country resents our wealthiest cities’ sense of entitlement and condescension.”

“Employers are as sensitive to housing costs as their employees, which is why, when we build more houses, we create more jobs.”

“If we don’t give the authors of music, film, literature, and journalism a way to control the distribution of their goods, the quality of all of these creative efforts will decline.”

“We need to create technologies—and a culture of respect, and an updated legal doctrine, too—that allow creative folks to make money from their own efforts.”

“The truth is that I love working. I love my kids. But I don’t view one as evil and the other as good. I need to work to be a happy person, to be a good parent.”

“My advice for men who aren’t yet parents is to make sure you’re a happy person before having a baby.”

“I think if I had gone to a private school and been coddled a little bit, I wouldn’t be as tough as I am now.”

“I’m an identical twin, and I felt that with my twin brother, we sort of formed this unassailable force, and it gave me the confidence to be different. Even if I was a goofball, my twin brother was a goofball with me, so I didn’t have to worry about fitting in as much. I was able to march to my own drummer.”

“Sometimes I wish I was less of a maniac; sometimes I wish I was more.”

“I learned to value speed in everything I do.”

“At different points, I applied to graduate school. I got into medical school. I thought about being a writer. I thought about being an investment banker. I just didn’t know what I wanted to do with myself. I think the thing that best suits me about being a CEO is that you get to exercise many different talents and wear many different hats.”

“I had a choice between working on Wall Street or doing consulting or working at a startup, and I got a job at a startup. I was one of the first employees there, and I did everything for them, and it was so much fun.”

“We spend our wholes lives campaigning, backseat-driving, second-guessing. But it makes you a better person seeing how things turn out when you do get your way.”

“I don’t think of myself as an entrepreneur, just as someone lucky enough to be in situations where I could be entrepreneurial. I’ve always looked for those situations, so I could pour myself into them.”

“I think of myself as someone who’s trying to make things better.”

“After a young adulthood trying to get him to see the world for how it really is, my brother Wes and I have come back to the way our dad is, realizing that it’s sometimes our job to see the world as it could be, as we want it to be.”

“Growing up is mostly the process of having to acknowledge the differences between your world and the whole world.”

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