leadership lessons from a master of internet retail - commercial food dehydrator
In 2010, Neil Blumenthal and three friends launched Warby Parker, the company says selling glasses online, unlike most online retailers, is now entering physical storesand-mortar stores.
The company offers its own vintage collection
Compared to designer glasses that cost more than $700, a pair of inspired frames, including prescription lenses, cost just $95.
The 32-year-old Blumenthal, who will not disclose his income, said that while the company has been in black, it is now in a "growth period", "with more than 250 employees and two new stores opening this spring, one is on Newbury Street, Boston, and the other opens a flagship store in Soho, New York, opposite the Apple store.
It also has showrooms in shops in about 10 cities.
Warby Parker has raised $55 million in venture capital.
Before he went to Wharton, Blumenthal worked in VisionSpring, a non-
Training women in developing countries to start their own businesses to sell affordable glasses for profit.
This experience has inspired Warby Parker, who works with VisionSpring to give a pair of glasses to every pair it sells.
Blumenthal shared the CEO's work with co-founder David Gilboa.
I spoke to Blumenthal about the leadership experience he had learned in just three years.
Here are the edits and condensed excerpts from our interview.
Did you show a tendency to start a business when you were young?
When I was eight years old, I saw an advertisement for a food dehydrator and asked if my parents would buy it for me because I wanted to open a stall selling dried fruit and beef jerky.
I remember that ad.
The clock pressed: "You will get a free dial if you call now --a-matic slicer.
My parents said, "No! You’re crazy!
"I convinced them that I could use my allowance.
This is a bad idea.
It was in Manhattan and there were not many stands on the sidewalk. It cost $59.
It turns out that making raisins with grapes is more expensive than just buying raisins.
Did it give you a lesson in starting a business?
Don't jump on things right away.
Sometimes marketing is just-marketing.
The experience affected Warby Parker.
We always want to maintain direct communication with our customers and treat them fairly.
I feel like the person who sold me the food dehydrator even though it came with a free dial-up --o-
The Matric slicer is not doing the right business.
Who is your mentor?
My grandfather is an entrepreneur.
Like many German-born New York Jews, they are engaged in textile business.
One grandfather had a shop in the Lower East Side selling linens and pillowcases, and the other grandfather bought excess fabrics from the textile mills in the south and sold them to department stores.
My great-grandfather also has a printing business.
I think they made me understand that it is possible to run a business, it is about solving problems.
Do you have any other mentors?
Jordan Casa Lo, optometrist, founder of VisionSpring
Where I work is profitable.
He exposed me to the application of social entrepreneur spirit and business wisdom on social issues.
Nearly a billion people on Earth have no chance to wear glasses.
The old model is to raise charity money, buy a lot of glasses and give them away for free.
But this will never solve the problem.
First of all, it is impossible to raise enough charitable funds to solve the problem of such a scale, and the problem is continuing as people break glasses and prescriptions.
So you need a sustainable solution.
Our idea is to train low-income women to sell glasses in their communities.
There is a permanent infrastructure and you see the beneficiaries as value --
Conscious consumers are not consumers who need them.
You are designed according to their needs and needs, rather than giving up the 1950 cat's eye that they will be laughed at by friends and family.
VisionSpring is now our main non-
We are their biggest donor.
What is the biggest surprise of becoming a CEO?
Say "yes" from 99% of the time to say "no" from 99% of the time ".
This could be a collaboration with another brand or another event.
One of the duties of the CEO is to be the chief priority officer and truly ensure that the team is focused on the most influential activities.
Another thing is how challenging some decisions can be.
We have very smart people who are always hard to make decisions when I make them.
Otherwise, they will not be passed on the chain.
What is an example of a difficult decision recently?
When you are so successful in e-commerce, open a store.
How do you describe your leadership style?
Inclusive, transparent, direct, action-oriented, servant-style leadership.
While some of the leadership paradigms of the past may have been visually represented as pyramids, I think it is an inverted pyramid. I see my role—I have a colleague. CEO, Dave—
I think all of our roles are asking how we can help our team succeed and be as productive as possible.
The way you do this is to make sure they have the resources, capital and other resources they need.
Our duty is to ensure that they are aware of the priorities and guardrails on the road to their destination.
How did you hire someone?
We look for ability and health and we actually have a parallel interview track for both.
There is a track that can help us assess if someone has the ability to do the job.
We have a separate interview track in which we evaluate whether this person will thrive in Warby Paker and whether their personal values will align with our core values.
One of our core values is to inject fun and quirks into everything we do.
So one of the questions we have to ask the candidate is, what is the last dress you wear?
Not to mention, unless someone dressed up as Superman the night before, we won't hire them.
What's more, how does this person answer this question?
Do they take themselves seriously?
We take our work seriously, not ourselves seriously.
There's no pride in Warby Parker.
We are also looking for people who are proactive and biased towards actions and problems --solving.
Are they friendly and fun together?
Will they treat others like they do?
Are they insightful, thoughtful and thoughtful?
This is the key to innovation and creativity.
How do you find time to do everything you need to do?
This is one area that I need to develop.
The real trick is to delegate and direct.
In an ideal world, you employ enough talented people under your leadership, and you can hire a little more than you directly.
The more you delegate, the more time you will have to develop strategies and take advantage of more opportunities.
What is your biggest challenge?
First, recruit enough engineering talents, especially software engineering talents.
The country is short.
That's why we really need immigration reform to keep the individuals we train at top universities in computer science in this country, working in companies like Warby Parker.
The second thing is to maintain culture and productivity through high growth rates and high employment rates.
We hired more than 100 people last year.
We will hire more than 100 people this year.
We bring more than two people to the team every week and we need them to train on board.
How do you deal with these challenges?
One of our core values is responsible for each other's professional and personal growth.
We spent a lot of time providing guidance and feedback and making sure the feedback was direct.
For a small company, we have an informal feedback meeting on a monthly basis and 360 reviews on a quarterly basis.
What is the last dress you wear?
I'm the lone ranger on Halloween 2012.