The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question: What advice would you give your 22-year-old self today? is written by Michael Keoni DeFranco, founder and CEO of Lua.
As a 27-year-old founder in the midst of growing my own company, I’ll admit that there is still much I need to learn. That being said, when reflecting back on my founding days, there are some important things I wish I knew:
Back in 2010, I had countless expectations for Lua as a company. But how would we survive in an ever-increasing competitive industry? I quickly learned that no matter how much time, resources or money you think you’ll need, it will still not be enough. Planning for the unexpected is the only way to (hopefully) guarantee success. So remember to be patient. Aim high, but don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself and the company as necessary.
After launching Lua, my co-founders and I knew that our team would eventually have to grow. Fortunately for us, hiring developers and engineers happened naturally. With time, however, we realized we had to form a strong leadership team, which proved significantly more difficult. The pressure to hire senior executives confronts you quickly–but remember that good timing is crucial. Before you hire anyone, be sure to perfect your vision, evaluate your needs and only hire after you’ve established a solid foundation. When you finally decide to hire, don’t shy away from ‘hiring up.’ A more seasoned executive team offers specialized, reliable knowledge. My executive team has opened my eyes to new ideas and taught me what it takes to successfully run an entire organization.
Most 22 year olds lead busy lives. You might be in the middle of completing your undergraduate degree, heading off to obtain your master’s or working in your first professional job. This time in your life can be scary, overwhelming and oftentimes, blinding. But as you enter the race, always remember to stay healthy. Eating right, taking time to walk around outside of the office and understanding the difference between good and bad stress, will make you better worker. Stress has the ability to push you beyond your limits, but it can also break you. Good health will serve as your motivation (even during burnouts). Work hard, but understand your limits.
Be open to change
When I first developed the concept that eventually became Lua, I thought I knew exactly what the final product would look like. I wanted to generate a means for people to communicate at work. But in my quest, I learned this: demand changes every day, especially in enterprise technology. As industries evolve, your vision and product must evolve with it. If you’re flexible and allow your product to evolve with the market, both you and your company will reap the benefits.
Read all answers to the Leadership Insider question: What advice would you give your 22-year-old self today?
Nine things this CEO wishes she knew at 22 by Erin (Mack) McKelvey, CEO of SalientMG.
Best advice for a 22-year–old: quit bragging about your accomplishments by Ryan Harwood, CEO of PureWow.
A nobody can still make a memorable first impression by Shahrzad Rafati, founder and CEO of Broadband TV.
Even this CEO knows it’s okay to fail by Kyle Wong, CEO of Pixlee.
How starting at the bottom gets you to the top — quicker by Frederic Kerrest, co-founder and COO of Okta.
What entrepreneurs get wrong about success by Lynn LeBlanc, CEO and founder of HotLink.
Why you should never get promoted too quickly by David Kong, CEO of Best Western.