After getting knocked down many times, entrepreneur Jeff Wald discovered the importance of "the will to get it done". Jeff is the Founder of Work Market, an enterprise software platform that enables companies to efficiently and compliantly, organize, manage and pay freelancers. Work Market was acquired by by ADP. Jeff has founded several other technology companies, including Spinback, a social sharing platform (eventually purchased by Salesforce.com). Jeff began his career in finance and venture capital. Jeff is the author of "The Birthday Rules" and the upcoming book "The End of Jobs: The Rise of the Agile Company and the On-Demand Worker”. He also is a regular writer in Huffington Post and Forbes and was named “One of the 100 Most Influential People’ in Staffing” by the Staffing Industry Analysts in 2017 & 2018.
The Lesson That Changed My Life
Jeff: The key is being knocked down seven times and getting up eight.
I grew up in Port Washington, New York, which is out in Long Island. It is basically Suburbia, USA. It's like a Norman Rockwell painting, and I count myself incredibly fortunate for having grown up in that town, in my family, certainly in this country.
I started my first company with two co-founders and for reasons, innumerable reasons, it failed. And we made a huge number of mistakes, one of them was funding it ourselves. For me, it was everything I had. And so when it failed, I was bankrupt. Like, that was it. I was out of money. I got that call from my mom, "Do you need to move back home?" And you know, I went through a period of depression. I didn't leave my apartment.
Everybody gets knocked down. You know, when I started my career in start-ups, I didn't start as an entrepreneur. I started as a venture capitalist. And one of the things that I would always say to entrepreneurs is, "You know, look. You've written this lovely business plan. You put all this work into this great document. It's got all these pages, and graphs, and charts. The only thing I know for 100% certainty is it ain't going down like this. This is wrong. I don't know how it's wrong. I don't know where it's wrong, and neither do you."
Ideas are easy. You know, 1000 people thought of Facebook. A number of people tried to execute on Facebook, Friendster and Myspace, before Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook. What is difficult in start-up world, and I would say in life in general, is the will to get it done, the will to execute on it. Do you have the will necessary to drive that to completion? And a lot of people don't, and they don't because of their own self-doubt.
You know, it's very important to be able to share what you're going through when you're trying to do something like be an entrepreneur. Whatever kind of company you're starting, it's hard. It's one of the hardest things that you could possibly do professionally, and to pretend that like you got this and everything's going to be okay all day, to do that internally, it costs a lot. And being able to sit at the end of the day, you know, over a drink with a bunch of people going through the same things, and express your doubt, your impostor syndromes, whatever it is that you're going through, you say, "I don't know what I'm doing. I mean, I'm so nervous that I'm going to mess this all up and all these people's jobs depend on me" and that is nerve-wracking, so having a support system is super, super important, super critical to your success.