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It’s no secret that the American health care system is a source of endless aggravation and unnecessary pain and suffering for many members of our society. For the latest episode of my Leadership Lessons series, I spoke with Doug Hirsch, co-founder and co-CEO of GoodRx—a consumer-focused digital healthcare company that aims to make healthcare more affordable. The company was founded in 2011 and touches the health journey from prevention to diagnosis and treatment. GoodRx estimates it has saved consumers $40 billion to date.
Related: Free Webinar | July 19: Building Products That Matter with GoodRx Co-CEO, Doug Hirsch
Hirsch has had an extraordinary journey on his way to GoodRx. As one of the first 30 employees of Yahoo! he created and managed the earliest online communities, including Yahoo! Mail and Yahoo! Groups. During his time as VP of Product at Facebook, he helped create Facebook photo tagging and helped attract new audiences to the social media platform, increasing traffic by 400%. He gained experience raising capital from top-tier VCs when he founded DailyStrength, which was acquired in less than three years by Sharecare, a health destination founded by Dr. Oz, Discovery Communications and Oprah Winfrey.
“Everyone has a story about how health care just fell short of them. And my job is to close those gaps,” Hirsch says of his current mission with GoodRx. “Our health care system takes no prisoners. And it will take some down with the extraordinary prices that consumers are forced to pay when insurance doesn’t pay.”
During our talk, Hirsch consistently demonstrated to me that he is one of today’s most passionate and driven leaders, with a clear mission that could not be more important or more urgent. Here are 10 important leadership lessons Hirsch conveyed to me during our hour-long conversation:
1. Don’t sweat the small stuff
Hirsch finds that uncertainty and unhappiness are common traits among entrepreneurs, even those who seem outwardly successful. Keeping things in a rational perspective is important, as is making time for family and friends.
2. Control your destiny for as long as you can
With the help of resources like Shopify, starting your own business isn’t nearly as expensive as it used to be. Hirsch told me he’s a big fan of trying to go as far as you can on your own before raising money. He recommends first focusing on building a sustainable business.
3. As an investor, look for entrepreneurs who solve a concrete problem and who won’t stop until it is solved
When Hirsch has invested in the past, it is because he has been fascinated by someone who is doing something new and necessary and can draw the line from the problem to the solution.
Related: Wayfair CEO Has Helped Revolutionize Digital Shopping for 20 Years Here’s how he’s handling rocky financial conditions.
4. Surround yourself with the right people
Shared passion has been the key to GoodRx’s success. “I want to be surrounded by people who are here because they want to be here,” Hirsch says. “I don’t want to be surrounded by people who are here but don’t care about what we’re doing.”
5. Employees listen carefully to their managers, especially in uncertain times
Hirsch tells me that his first instinct is to be “kind of negative” and shoot down new ideas. But he has learned that employees can sometimes take what a manager says at heart, so managers should try to project confidence and positivity.
Related: How this leader is driving social change and the future of retail
6. Keep an eye on what is important when the company has been listed on the stock exchange
There are many other responsibilities that come with being a public company, and not all of them feel as fulfilling as the things you did to get to that point. But stick to the original mission: “The day we went public, the company didn’t change,” says Hirsch proudly.
7. Curiosity drives entrepreneurship
Hirsch became an entrepreneur to satisfy his endless curiosity, and that curiosity still drives him today. “Even though we’re a bigger company now, there’s only so many different ways we can continue to attack,” he says.
8. Not everyone wants to – or is meant to – be an entrepreneur
Being an entrepreneur is tempting for many, but it requires a certain personality to succeed. “When you drink a soda and you look at it and think of a better way to design these cans? Then maybe you have the right spirit,” Hirsch joked as he gave me an example of what this kind of curiosity is like. a characteristic of most entrepreneurs.
9. A great co-founder is interested in other parts of the business than you are
It is invaluable to have someone with you on the journey who is on your level, a co-pilot as you go through the process of starting a company. It is especially beneficial to find someone who is naturally attracted to a different part of the business than you.
For more from my conversation with Hirsch, watch the full webinar here. The growing collection of episodes from our series gives readers access to best practices from successful CEOs of the biggest brands, including Wayfair, Foot Locker, Heineken, Headspace, Zoom, Chipotle, Warby Parker and ZipRecruiter.
Related: What has this 100-year-old business done to ensure longevity? The CEO follows these 7 management principles.