Deriving Motivation from Adversity with Sameer Dholakia, CEO of Twilio SendGrid
If we fast forward through your time at Stanford I'm curious to know when was the next You know major goal major milestone. What type of things were you setting up after you achieve that challenge and you know you've held the different a wide set of roles attack in executive roles and as the CEO Places. So I'm curious. What was the journey like to get to those places? Yeah it's interesting. After after Stanford I stumbled into into software I graduated and I hadn't studied computer science though I wish I had in hindsight but I was more of a business kid so I was studied economics. I did for my bachelor's a master's degree in organizational design organizational studies in was really fascinated by business and so had assumed I would go down very different career path but I will often say I just happened to have sheer dumb luck of graduating from a college that was in the heart of Silicon Valley in the mid nineties and By virtue of that Dumb luck the number of companies coming to recruit on campus. That had something to do. Technology was disproportionate to the state in size of the technology street that time which was still young and software in particular was a relatively young industry to to be sure and so there is a great software company named trilogy that had come on campus and had a very compelling and charismatic. Ceo Route was a deep believer in hiring great people and great talents and even if the talents was young giving them a lots of responsibility and it was very. It was a risky venture. You know the time of the company had about fifty. Employees was probably in hindsight less than ten million in revenue. I imagined back in nineteen ninety four when I fell in love with the company and the people that were there and decided to take take a risk. And go go and join that that's offer startup that's offers startup. Went on over the next seven years to go from a sub ten million dollars. Start up to a multi hundred million dollar company in blowing thousands of people who was just a rocket ship ride and I was really fortunate to have A lot of support emit within the leadership of the company Because I was there early and was willing to do whatever was asked to to try to help the company be successful So I was then able to work in a lot of different areas a lot of different functions as the company scale. There is always a need for. Well there's a big problem or opportunity over there. Can somebody step up and help us with that and I got? I got tapped on the shoulder a few times in those situations that that all prove to be great learning experiences for me and and helped me. I wish I could say was by design. I would say you know. In hindsight it turned to be just lucky that all of those assignments helped me span. Basically all the all the functions within a software company Short of coding. I got to really learn the business end to end which TV up to be able In my in my next venture go ask for and have the opportunity to serve as the CEO of my first startup. Back in two thousand two thousand seven. But I spent. I spent a lot of years. Just learning for ninety five to two thousand seven was really really just a period of learning different parts of the business everybody taking time out to thank China for sponsoring independent media like mission daily. If there's one thing I am about and in fact one thing the whole mission team is about you know accelerated learning one way I do. That is by learning from the best when it comes to learning about. Hr The team and resources. China provides are my go-to source just this week. Trinet published a blog and Webinar series to help small and medium-sized businesses. Manage the impact of cove in nineteen. It covers actions. You can take to be prepared. Should one of your employees test positive for corona virus? It also covers other factors. You should consider including employee compensation if your business is required to shut down due to the pandemic. There's lots happening now in real time. Go to try DOT COM and get the information you need to protect your business. China will continue to post the latest as recommendations as legislation is changing on daily basis. So you join San Grade at two thousand fourteen right. That's right. Yeah and so you you joined and can you paint a picture for us You did a little bit before but you know. Where was the company at when you joined? And what was your process like for joining because often. It's tempting when you join a new venture and do have so much experience to point out all the changes and you think you need to be changed your what was your integration process like Back in two thousand fourteen. Yeah a joining Sun. Grid was by far the best career decision I've ever made. I've never had more fun in any job I've ever held. I can say without question It was also probably the hardest career decision I ever made so in the summer of two thousand fourteen. I ended up joining in October. But in the summer of fourteen You know I had kind of made my checklist of things that are really cared about in finding the next company and Centigrade kind of checked all the boxes. The problem was that it was for me. The problem was that I live here memo park. We mentioned earlier in the bay area and Ascended was founded out of Boulder Colorado had expanded to Denver in Colorado and had Founders of the company had gone and opens an engineering office in southern California in Orange County. And you'll note that none of the three that I just mentioned are in the bay area and so while I love everything about this This company I was living here in the bay area and commuting to a different Different states or different part of the states in kind of crazy Particularly at a time when my wife and I then had to relatively young kids actually. We're probably like eight and five at the time I would imagine and It Seem Julie. Stupid and my wife who runs intellectual circles around me Was also had a very big job herself At the time was running business operations over at linked in had a team was probably bigger than all of senator and she was the bread winner in our family back. In those days of anchoring she adjoin linked in right before the IPO and which was a wonderful thing and we were not in in any position to be moving anywhere because her job was the anchor of what we're doing so those the tough decision to make I ended up turning the job down twice Before I finally accepted part of the reason that I had fallen in love with the company so much was I often fell in love with San Grid with with head and hearts analytically. As a as a business geek be the singer business model to me was astounding I had been an enterprise software for a decade Or probably fifteen years at that point and The history of enterprise software will always involves writings of complex code to solve a given problem and then hiring an army of Sales people to go out and knock on doors. And when I came and looked center business at the time segregated in twenty fourteen was doing about thirty million in revenue and I asked about what our sales team looked like at the time and they pointed out the interviewing broom window and say well that that's them over there. They pointed at a table but had five or six people sitting around it A Card Table. Who said that? That's the entire force I said. Yeah it's all it's all inside sales. They are responding to people. Click on the contact sales on our website but ninety nine percent of our customers never talked to employees before they just try our product for free on our website in bed the API into their code but a credit card down and they're often running and to me that's self service. Almost e commerce like selling of software was natural so I I was in love with that and I had fallen in love with the company's Culture. Which at the time when senator was stand alone we call them before ages. Happy Hungry humble and honest and and each of those resonated with me for in different ways for a particular reason and I just loved them Particularly the humble age which I thought was I've been humbled by life. I thought I thought that Humility was was a terrific characteristed in probably one. That was not all that common in in software or tech during that period of time or now and that resonated deeply with me and so I had really fallen love this company and so I kept saying no because the aforementioned it's I live in the wrong place not GonNa Young family and these things don't make sense But I kept thinking about the company because I had really fallen in love with it and I often retell the story of how my It was only because my wife one day who I mentioned earlier is much smarter than I am said to me. You know honey you. You seem to be struggling with this question. Tell me what you want me to tell you the answer and in the most condescending way that only only a loving spouse an and I said. Y'All go ahead please. Dummy what am I missing here and She said look. I've known you for twenty years and you have never on in love with a cup like this and so you're gonNA take this job and we're gonNA make it work. I don't know how we'll figure it out together. It was only that extraordinary gesture of love from from my wife. That is the reason that I was able to take take the job. Because she gave me permission to do so. And and again I just you know for all the listeners out there that are our founding companies are going on entrepreneurial journeys just encourage elder to remember to thank all those around you who are sacrificing on on your behalf to allow you the opportunity to go followed this dream of yours and and my wife in this case was was the one who did that for me and and so we ended up taking the job. We we ended up agreeing that we would be we build out an office here and Silicon Valley which we did which at least allow me to have Some nights at home and we worked out a schedule on a cadence. That works worked for everybody. My sister company track How many how many days and nights I was making it for bedtime and nominate dinners I.