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Aaron Levie Quotes

Aaron Winsor Levie

Aaron Levie quotes: the Box cofounder and CEO speaks his mind.

“Execute like there’s no tomorrow, strategize like there will be.”

“When you’re doing something you’re passionate about, stress becomes a feature not a bug.”

Never give up.”

“Make decisions quickly. In a disruptive environment, you have to make decisions quickly. That doesn’t mean that you aren’t careful or thoughtful, but it means that leaders have to stand up and lead.”

“One of our core values is ‘Get sh*t done.’ We have a very execution-oriented culture.”

“Take risks. Fail fast. If we fail fast we can correct mistakes quickly.”

“Use technology to support your culture. An important lesson for every business—that you have the ability to engage people in ways that weren’t obvious before.”

“Focus on the main thing. It’s worth looking hard at why it is that you started this business in the first place. In times like this, you sort of have to go back to almost the most fundamental kind of core, or first principles, of your business, which is, why do you exist as a company? Why do your customers want what you have? Do you need to pivot that? Do you need to adapt to this environment? Why do your employees want to work in your organization? How do you protect them as much as possible?”

“Leaders need to constantly communicate the vision.”

“In a world where you have to be much more dynamic and growing and responding to new realities much more quickly, you can’t possibly have a mindset that people are not going to be able to move fast enough or change or learn the right kinds of skills or else you fundamentally will, at any given time, always have the wrong people to do the job. You have to have a much more growth mindset-oriented nature around teaching and helping people see that they can actually go and learn, adapt, improve, and ultimately grow themselves to solve whatever the challenges are.”

“If people don’t think the odds are against you, you’re doing it wrong.”

“If you’re waiting for encouragement from others, you’re doing it wrong. By the time people think an idea is good, it’s probably too late.”

“Better to be too early and have to try again, than be too late and have to catch up.”

“I think people are always able to achieve more than they think they can. While that’s cliche, I don’t know if managers think about that enough. You have to set your sights extremely high.”

“There’s a lot of pride that business owners have. It’s actually really critical that pride and ownership extends to everyone in the organization. I think of everyone is in the same boat in driving the company forward.”

“It’s important to make sure that people are communicating well. Culture and morale are super important. It’s best to not force it, but let it happen organically and genuinely.”

“Start with something simple and small, then expand over time. If people call it a ‘toy’ you’re definitely onto something.”

“You intentionally start small, because you will not be able to compete with an incumbent… because the incumbent is always going to go for the full solution. Do things that incumbents can’t or won’t do because it’s economically or technically infeasible.”

“The only barrier to entry you can create is to consistently build a great product.”

“Sometimes things are the way they are and can’t be changed; other times it’s because no one ever tried. Your job is to find the latter.”

“‘That’s already been tried before’ only means the first attempt got it wrong.”

“The chance of failure is almost always better than the guarantee of never knowing.”

“The only way to avoid disruption is to constantly do what you would if you were just starting out.”

“A lot of being productive personally is determined by how you organize your entire business. You can’t separate those two things.”

“I tend to not discriminate when it comes to people I can learn from. Basically, if someone has built a meaningful business in software, technology or media, faced disruption and adversity, and overcame underdog status, I want to know how they did it.”

“It’s all about what are you trying to build and change that other people want to be a part of that process and that experience, and then going after the best possible people that you work with to go do that.”

“You have to make sure that you have a very collaborative structure, and that each person deeply respects the other person. You have to make sure it’s somebody that you do want to spend a lot of time with—because you’re going to be in the trenches with that person.”

“Having some early wins to show immediate value, and getting to know the company and the culture—that’s all super important early on. The key is just to be crystal clear about what each person is going to own and ensure that you have a process for resolving things when there is conflict or overlap or a gray area. Because there will always be some gray areas. It’s not like it works perfectly. But starting with as much clarity as possible is incredibly important.”

“Opportunity lives at the intersection of what people need tomorrow and can be just barely built today.”

“On finding opportunity: Products evolve based on assumptions that eventually become outdated. This is every incumbent’s weakness and startup’s opportunity.”

“Always look for these changing technology factors—any market that has a significant change in the underlying raw materials or enabling factors, is an environment that is about to change in a very significant way.”

“All of a sudden, if you think about the entire ecosystem of connected devices that can pull down information, access content and allow me to share and work and communicate, the vast majority now are not Windows computers. They are iPhones. They are iPads. They are Android devices.”

“I think because of the iPhone and the fact that we now have a ubiquitous internet, our creativity in the startup space is 10 times different. Every single industry, every single market, is going to be technology-driven in some way. There’s an infinite opportunity for startups because now you can go and solve problems that previously looked like they had nothing to do with technology.”

“Innovation is hard because solving problems people didn’t know they had and building something no one needs look identical at first.”

“We’re going from a world of customized software to standardized platforms.”

“The product that wins is the one that bridges customers to the future, not the one that requires a giant leap.”

“You’ll learn more in a day talking to customers than a week of brainstorming, a month of watching competitors, or a year of market research.”

“Focus too much on the near-term and you won’t get tomorrow’s customers, focus too much on the long-term and you won’t get today’s.”

“Start with the assumption that the best way to do something is not the way it’s being done right now.”

“Uber is a $3.5 billion lesson in building for how the world ‘should’ work instead of optimizing for how the world ‘does’ work.”

“Better to be right about the trend and wrong about the implementation, than the other way around.”

“Your product should sell itself, but that does not mean you don’t need salespeople.”

“If you don’t go to every level of your company, you distance yourself from the marketplace and from your people.”

“Entrepreneurship: 10% coach, 20% player, 30% cheerleader, 40% water boy.”

“If every customer is using your product ‘correctly,’ you’ll never learn anything interesting about what to do next.”

“Startups often win because it’s easier to see what comes next when you don’t have to worry about maintaining what came last.”

“Startups live at the intersection of existential crisis and everything going perfectly great.”

“Look for new enabling technologies that create a wide gap between how things have been done and how they can be done.”

“‘The way that startups have to compete against big companies is by focusing on what are the things that the big companies can’t do. It is never enough that you are just building a better product, or that you put together some different type of optimization on the service. You really fundamentally have to attack dimensions that are almost impossible for an incumbent to be competing on.”

“My acronym is WWSJD:What would Steve Jobs do?”

“Go after the customers that are working in the future, but haven’t totally lost their minds.”

“Generally, if you are doing something that has an incredible amount of value, you’ve been able to build an incredible culture, and you are able to continue to build in the direction, any kind of near term market fluctuation tends to not be that impactful. Look at what Facebook went through. The amount of noise about literally, this could be the end of Facebook, and now they’re three times bigger from the point when those conversations were happening is evidence as much as we need around that you’re always going to be dealing with some amount of volatility. There will always be noise around the business.”

“You stay focused on the long term, you continue to build in the path that you were going on, unless something else changes, and then you continue to pivot around that. It just requires, again, complete conviction, unwavering conviction of what you’re trying to build.”

“[On turning down an offer worth more than $550 million] The mindset was: is this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build something really new, create products and services that no one has had before? Are you better off doing that on your own, or can you do it better with the resources of a big company? You think more about the company and the mission than whether you should hang in there so you can someday afford two really big yachts, instead of one.”

“We’re enamored with the concept that there’s always a price. But sometimes, your goal is to build a great company, not sell it.”

“The first 20 years of the web were won by those that built the best infrastructure. Now it’s won by those that build the best experiences.”

“Read these 3 books :  Crossing the Chasm, Innovators Dilemma and Behind the Cloud.

“My dad is a chemical engineer, and my mom was a teacher. They were pretty serious about education, but I always thought about things a little bit differently.”

“I have a lot of faults. I often interrupt in meetings. I talk too loud. I talk too fast.”

“I think I’m the kind of person who would be very difficult to employ: I’m pretty annoying, but driven.”

“I’m certainly not into money and prestige. For me there is simply nothing more exciting than people involved in the creation of great products. That is what drives me.”

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