EO Nerve Atlanta 2012 kicked off today and was a big success. The theme is Dream | Challenge | Lead and the events to support it have been excellent. First thing this morning we were inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in video and live re-enactment form. After that we heard from the CEO of a NYSE company followed by Mike McQuary, the co-founder of Mindspring/Earthlink as well as Wheego, one of only three companies in the United States to have a completely electric car on the market today.
Here are some notes from Mike McQuary’s talk at EO Nerve Atlanta 2012:
- Mike was sleeping on the floor of the studio apartment of Charles Brewer when Charles quit his job and said he wanted to start a company based on a strong culture of people that he liked, and the business idea didn’t matter
- Mike was the operations guy and Charles was the visionary for Earthlink, which grew to thousands of employees in only a few years
- Org charts should be flipped upside down whereby the leaders are serving the employees
- Don’t have offices or reserved parking spots as that creates unnecessary hierarchy
- Mike personally interviewed the first 1,000 Mindspring employees for corporate culture fit
- Earthlink hired people who were passionate about helping other people, and then trained them on the skills
- Integrating Earthlink and Mindspring into one company was the hardest thing because the cultures were very different
- Mike walked away from Earthlink when he realized he’d regret not spending time with his four little kids
- As leader be careful what you say because it’s taken differently
- Make sure you have hard metrics to measure success
- Wheego was started after Mike saw the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car and heard the sound of the voice of customers who were passionate about the product, just like his customers at Earthlink
Mike did a great job sharing anecdotes and advice from his entrepreneurial experiences. Mingspring was a massive success and I hope Wheego turns out the same way.