I have been in business for 20 years. Lately I frequently run into former employees who have have become successful entrepreneurs. Indeed this morning I was cycling with a few of them and wondering why is it that I seem to be the last stop to entrepreneurship for so many corporate types. My answer is that, when I recruit, I look for candidates who will run with projects and get them done with little supervision. In many cases, I look for candidates who are better than me at their tasks and I am not afraid to delegate. Corporate executives come to me because they want to do what I do. They see companies that go from idea to global leaders, (Fon has now the largest wifi network in the world) in 6 months and they want to “learn the trick”.
Now my “trick”, I guess, is that they not only learn…they make it happen. And they make enough money through equity in my companies, that the next time they do it on their own, in some cases as much as $50 million. Some examples of very successful former employees now entrepreneurs: Alan Levy, Miguel Salis, Antonio Carro, Christoph Schmidt, Jon Berrojalbiz, Alvy Ibañez, Moises Israel, ex employees of Viatel, Jazztel, Ya.com. And this “learn and start my own” model, is not only true in the case of profit ventures. Rafael Rivera, a social entrepreneur, was one of the first employees of Educ.ar, a very large educational project started by my foundation, and then he went on to being one of the co founders of Red.es, a huge educational internet project in Spain. I once read in Forbes magazine that great leaders are the ones whose followers do well. I would slightly change that. I would say that great leaders are the ones whose followers do so well that they become leaders!
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