How I Succeeded: Culture Amp's Didier Elzinga

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How I Succeeded is a regular series on Lifehacker where we ask business leaders for the secrets and tactics behind their success. Today: Didier Elzinga, Culture Amp.

Current gig: Founder and CEO, Culture Amp

Current Location: Melbourne, Australia

Current mobile device: Samsung Galaxy S9

Current computer: 13-inch MacBook

One word that best describes how you work: Intuitively

What apps/software/tools can't you live without?

  • Goodnotes on an iPad (I do a digital version of the bullet journal approach)
  • Google Sheets & Google Slides
  • Zoom / Slack / Gmail for comms (I am in meetings for roughly 70% of my working day)
  • Bear (for writing things like this)

What social network do you find the most useful?

LinkedIn for work, Twitter for information

What were the most important lessons you learned while growing your business?

You can’t over communicate values, strategy or priorities. It isn’t until you are literally ready to throw up if you have to say it again that people will hear it for the first time

What has been the most surprising part of your business journey?

That so much of success is just being willing to show up. From Hollywood to Silicon Valley people keep asking me how I was able to build businesses in both - and my answer is that I was too naive to know that I couldn’t.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

I doubt that I am better than everyone else but I would say I am above average at being able to read quickly (specifically to synthesise lots of content quickly) and I read a lot.

What's your sleep routine like?

I am a believer in the idea of 90 min sleep cycles so I target 6, 7.5 or 9 hrs each night. 6 is my bare minimum, 7.5 is sustainable and 9 is magical. As I get older getting 9 hrs sleep on a weekend night is much more valuable than being able to go out drinking. Interestingly I find I operate better on 7.5 hrs than I do on 8. I am also an early riser so I set my bedtime from when I want to get up (usually 5 or 6am).

What advice would you offer to other businesses on how to succeed?

From an entrepreneurial standpoint you have to be willing to not succeed. Only if you are willing to put your heart and soul into something for a year or two, have it amount to nothing and still not feel like you wasted those years should you try and start a company. So much of it is just be willing to keep on going even when everything around you is telling you to quit.

The quote that drove me through a lot of building Culture Amp is “What matters is how many people believe in you, not how many don’t. “.


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