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It’s no secret that the U.S. healthcare 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 talked with Doug Hirsch, co-founder and co-CEO of GoodRx — a consumer-focused digital healthcare company whose mission is to make healthcare more affordable. Founded in 2011, the company touches the healthcare journey from prevention to diagnosis and treatment. GoodRx estimates it has saved consumers $40 billion to date.
Hirsch has had an extraordinary journey on the way to GoodRx. As one of the first 30 employees at Yahoo!, he created and managed its earliest online communities including Yahoo! Mail and Yahoo! Groups. During his time as a VP of product at Facebook, he co-created Facebook photo tagging and helped attract new audiences to the social media platform, growing 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’s got a story of how the healthcare system has just fallen short for them. And my job is to plug those holes,” Hirsch says of his current mission with GoodRx. “Our healthcare system takes no prisoners. And it will take anybody down with the extraordinary prices that consumers are forced to pay when insurance isn’t paying.”
During our talk, Hirsch consistently demonstrated to me that he’s one of today’s most passionate and driven leaders, with a clear mission that could not be more important or urgent. Here are 10 essential leadership lessons Hirsch relayed to me during our hour-long conversation:
1. Don’t sweat the small stuff
Hirsch finds that insecurity and unhappiness are common traits among entrepreneurs, even those who appear outwardly successful. Keeping things in a rational perspective is essential, as is making time for family and friends.
2. Control your destiny as long as you can
With the help of resources like Shopify, it’s not nearly as expensive as it used to be to start your own business. Hirsch told me he’s a big fan of trying to go as far as you can by yourself before you raise money. He recommends focusing first on building a sustainable business.
3. As an investor, look for entrepreneurs who are solving a tangible problem and won’t stop until it’s solved
When Hirsch has invested in the past, it’s because he’s been intrigued by someone who is doing something new and necessary and can draw the line from the problem to the solution.
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 are listening carefully to their leaders, especially during uncertain times
Hirsch tells me his first instinct is to be “sort of negative” and shoot holes in new ideas. But he’s learned that employees can sometimes take what a leader says to heart, so leaders should try to project confidence and positivity.
6. Keep an eye on what’s important once the company has gone public
There are a lot of 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 stay on target with that original mission: “The day we went public, the company didn’t change,” Hirsch says proudly.
7. Curiosity drives entrepreneurship
Hirsch became an entrepreneur to satiate his never-ending curiosity, and that curiosity still drives him today. “Even though we’re a bigger company now, there are just so many different ways that we can continue to attack,” he says.
8. Not everyone wants to — or is meant to — be an entrepreneur
Being an entrepreneur is enticing to many, but it takes a certain personality to be successful. “When you’re drinking a soda and you’re looking at it and thinking about a better way to design those cans? Then you may have the right spirit,” Hirsch joked as he gave me an example of how this kind of curiosity is a trait held by most entrepreneurs.
9. A great co-founder is interested in different parts of the business than you are
It’s invaluable to have someone with you on the journey who is at your level, a co-pilot as you go through the process of starting a company. It’s especially beneficial to find someone who is naturally drawn to a different part of the business than you are.
For more from my talk with Hirsch, watch the full webinar here. The growing collection of episodes from our series gives readers access to the best practices of successful CEOs from the biggest brands, including Wayfair, Foot Locker, Heineken, Headspace, Zoom, Chipotle, Warby Parker and ZipRecruiter.