Tim built a successful business and has had a big impact on our industry, but looking back at his career, it’s also clear to him how often he’s failed, and what some of the things are that kept him, his employees, and the company from achieving its full potential. Some of these were failures of vision, some of them were failures of nerve, but most of them were failures in building and cultivating the company culture. It is easy to focus on customers and product, and product-market fit, and to forget that if you’re building for the long haul, the company itself, and the people in it, must be your most important focus. A company is a tool for doing things bigger than any one individual can accomplish; leadership means not just providing vision and direction, but shaping the culture and the team that can execute that vision.
Tim O’Reilly is the founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media. His original business plan was “interesting work for interesting people,” and that’s worked out pretty well. He publishes books, runs conferences, invests in early-stage startups, urges companies to create more value than they capture, and tries to change the world by spreading and amplifying the knowledge of innovators.
Tim is also a partner at O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, a founder and board member of Safari Books Online and Maker Media, and on the boards of Code for America and PeerJ.
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