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7 Questions on Startups and Leadership with Daniel Kivatinos

January 26, 2024

Daniel Kivatinos, CEO of JustPaid, shares his insights on how to build a successful start-up and, more importantly, how to become a great leader and run amazing teams.

Ever wonder what keeps a leader up at night? Beyond spreadsheets and to-do lists, the true heartburn stems from a delicate dance: balancing audacious vision with unwavering empathy. Leaders must steer the ship towards a bright horizon, inspiring unwavering commitment with their unwavering belief. But that's just one side of the coin.

Get ready to delve into the trenches of leading with Daniel Kivatinos, CEO of JustPaid and founder of successful company DrChrono, Buckle up, folks, we're about to explore the fascinating tightrope act that is leadership.

  1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

One of the complex challenges of building a start-up and being a great leader is creating a culture where people are motivated and have meaning. Part of this is finding the best people you can, convincing them to work with you, and keeping that momentum going with the right incentives and mission.Building a fantastic platform that customers want is a core piece of this, and it is a challenge always to keep this in mind.

  1. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I've always wanted to work on meaningful problems and the best direction for me to do was to create a company where I wanted to work. After graduating college and working out a few startups, I built my very first company, DrChrono, which grew into a massive success. In the process of becoming a leader, what made me successful was continually learning; being a lifelong learner is so critical to being a great leader.

  1. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

Generally, I usually take time in the morning with my family to keep my stress in check and have a good breakfast. I also tend to go for a walk or go to the gym in the morning and start my workday after. I work throughout the day in and out of meetings but allow myself hours of unstructured time to learn, strategize, and think about how to scale my new start-up. I always take time to do 1-1s with team members throughout the week that will help make an impact, and I also talk to as many customers as I can per day.

  1. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

Keeping the team together in a cohesive way is super important, as well as keeping sight of what the actual value is to our users, the software platform we are making. Having customers delighted using your product will create a successful, long-term endeavor. Of course, the team you work with creates that product, so they have to feel valued and heard keeping all of this in mind, you have to build your company around these two core values, taking care of your customers and your employees.

  1. What's one book that has profoundly impacted your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell how that book impacted your leadership?

Leading by Alex Ferguson was super impactful as it ultimately relates to how to build a lasting organization and how to make sure you are working with the best people in the world. As you read the book, you can understand how a winning team is formed, and I used several examples in the book and applied them to my way of running startups.

Here is a list of some of the most impactful books I recommend I love.https://kivatinos.com/books-movies-podcasts-daniel-kivatinos/

  1. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Always have an open mind and a beginner's perspective on building something. The beginner's mind is extremely powerful; it is hyper-optimistic, and powerful things can be done in that frame of mind. Some of the most complex challenges in the world can be overcome with the right team and mindset.

Be humble; remember, you don't know what you don't know, and what you don't know can kill any company, so hearing candid, honest, open feedback from your team and users on what needs to get done in an organization should be embraced. Keep your team's creativity strong.

  1. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader so far?

When you foster your team, amazing things can be created; within just one year, my new start-up was created from nothing. My cofounders and I met, and we all aligned immediately on our vision. We started to hire the right team members and were hyper-focused on building an AI platform that didn't exist a year ago. The amount of work we put into our new startup was enormous, but because we all believe in each other and the mission of what we're creating, so much is possible.

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