Keith Krach collects people.

It’s not that he’s a comic book villain, mind you—Keith simply has a knack for finding people, discovering what they’re interested in, and building a team from that connection. Over the past ten years at DocuSign he has asked over 300 people to be on the Advisory Board (an unsually large number), but his reasoning is sound: why not?

“[P]eople support what they create. And also, people love to skate where the puck’s going to go. So that was one of the first things I did at DocuSign and at Ariba, is form an advisory board. And instead of saying “Hey, will you buy my product?” How about, “Hey, will you give me some advice?” And they help invent it and come up with the strategies…that’s when you get the different types of mixed talents and convictions and diversity of thought. And you create genius.”

Creating genius is certainly familiar territory for Keith. In college, he earned an internship opportunity at GM, and went on to participate in their scholarship program at Harvard Business School. Finding leadership and team building to be his passions, Keith climbed the ladder at GM for a decade before moving on to Silicon Valley and opportunities to work in the C-suite. He is now the Chairman and former CEO of DocuSign, and co-founder and former CEO of Ariba. Along the way, he has always paid diligent attention to attracting and retaining the right talent.

“I think the category for me is around transformational leadership. Because a transformational leader challenges the status quo. It mobilizes and energizes and unifies a team of people to achieve a noble mission that will leave a profound and far-reaching effect…You gotta team build. You’ve gotta bring everybody tight.”

With building A Teams being a subject close to my heart, I loved hearing Keith’s stories about building (and selling) two successful businesses, and how Keith was never afraid to create a new category in the market for his product, or even himself.

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Takeaways from this episode:

  • Rather than build a new product, sometimes you need to create a new category.
  • Teams, teams, teams. Diversity of thought is the catalyst for genius and the secret sauce for building high performance teams. Building a team is the most important step a business owner or CEO can take. The company with the best people wins.
  • What is your mission? You will attract more A+ players to your team if you have a noble mission.
  • It is also important to have a “crystal clear direction” for your company and team, akin to having a playbook in sports.
  • Make sure that any company you go to work for has core values that match your own. A mismatch on those will create a toxic work environment.
  • If you’re in between jobs, think of yourself as a product, and market yourself! Remember the six P’s: product, packaging, promotion, pricing, place, and people. Don’t be afraid to create a new market category if one doesn’t exist!

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