It’s about passion—do what you are good at—and follow what is in front of you.
That’s the advice New Relic Founder and CEO Lew Cirne shares in a fireside chat in front of 400 engineering students—as well as listeners on a streaming podcast—during the Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leadership Seminar at Stanford University this week.
Stanford professor Tom Byers invited Lew to participate in a talk series featuring entrepreneurs who have been “there” and are ready to inspire with firsthand, hard-earned guidance.
Tom introduced Lew as the founder of New Relic and the subject of a case study for Harvard Business Review, which has been frequently taught by business professors at Stanford and many others. The crux of the case study was a highly technical founder who built some software to solve a software problem that bothered him personally, and then decided to start his first company, Wily Technology. That story would eventually become the harbinger for a new technology category—application performance management.
Humble and audacious
Is it possible for an entrepreneur to be both humble and audacious? Tom thought so. For Lew, that means creating a culture where employees love their Mondays and who come to work to build great software that helps customers run their software. It’s about making a difference every day, not chasing a tomorrow that may never come.
Lew said too many companies are built on hopes for what its stock options might be worth “someday” and waiting for better things “tomorrow.” Instead, Lew said, surround yourself with people who inspire you to greatness and whom you know will help you through the challenges of dark days. For every business, there will be turmoil and uncertainty at some points and you want to know that the people around you will stand by you to weather the storm. Honesty and integrity must be at the core of your company.
Software is changing the world
Can software really change the world? To Lew, the answer is clear.
New Relic is a software analytics company that aims to make software a better vehicle for the customer’s experience. The most precious thing, he says, we have in this world is time. It’s possible to create more money, but not more time. Many people spend six hours a day in front of software. Life is too short for bad software, Lew said, which will frustrate you, and, moment-by-moment steal your time. Good software doesn’t waste users’ precious time, and makes those hours spent in front of more pleasant and more productive.
It’s not just about the software itself, though, it’s also about the companies and people that create it. Lew said he wants New Relic to be a place where people want to work together to make better software.
When you look at it that way, maybe software really can change the world.
Listen to the entire fireside chat here!