If you want to be the best, never settle for second place

For the last couple of years as Podia has grown larger and more successful — we’re now more than 30 employees, tens of thousands of customers, clearly the biggest innovator in our category, and profitable — the first place market position is within our grasp.

And I want it. Badly.

It’s not that being second or third would be a bad outcome for Podia, its employees, and our shareholders, because it would still mean that we’ve built a 9 figure business, but it’s not at all the outcome that I want or that I can see our company settling for.

We’ve worked so hard over the past 7 years to get to where we are today by sticking to an innovation-at-all-costs, long-term strategy. All of the pieces are falling in place, all at the right time: the market we’re in is rapidly expanding, the product is set up like loaded bases and your best hitter at bat, and our marketing team has doubled in size and is hitting its stride.

Podia is really the first time where I’ve had to come from behind to win. The last two companies I founded were extremely early to market and quickly became market leaders before growing complacent and losing first place to a faster-moving startup, so I know what being in first place can do to a company.

Starting from behind is definitely challenging, and requires a completely different mindset, where for years you’re constantly chasing companies with more customers, bigger teams, and more money. But it’s also wildly fun being the underdog. I’m not sure I’d want it any other way at this point. It’s going to make taking first place so much sweeter.

Over the past few years, it has become clear to me that despite being smaller, we really are the only product with a long-term strategy that isn’t simply to improve the product we have today, but to look far into the future at where the creator economy is going. Doing this is in our DNA and one of our four principles we’ve held and repeated often since our founding.

That drive to be the best has always been inside me since I started my first internet business over twenty years ago, and it’s manifested in many different ways for me. It’s why I have an “us vs them” mentality when it comes to our competitors, why I’ll do anything I can to succeed, why I’ll work tirelessly to gain an advantage, and why I always favor looking for big market shifting product wins over small ones.

When entrepreneurs ask me what my advice for them is, I often say that being persistent is a key trait, but more and more I’ll also say that working tirelessly to be the best, and never being complacent, is as important. Having that drive inside you will often make the difference when times are tough.

If you want to be the best, you can’t settle for anything but first.


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