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Entrepreneurship as a Path Towards Self Actualization with Alex MacCaw, CEO of Clearbit

Episode 360
How can you keep work fun while also growing and evolving as a person? Alex MacCaw shares how.

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Today, Chad is joined by Alex MacCaw, founder and CEO of Clearbit. Alex’s road to entrepreneurship was anything but conventional. Having taught himself programming at a young age, he dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to pursue a full-time career as a software engineer. Living in the London, Alex had intentions to get his visa and move to San Francisco to start his own company. But when he encountered a few roadblocks along the way, he took the opportunity to travel through south-east Asia and South America and wrote two successful books on programming along the way. 

He built a remarkable portfolio and big tech companies took notice. Eventually, Twitter offered Alex a job, and from there he was able to pursue his dream of moving to the United States. Shortly afterward, he joined Stripe, working on their product team to create some of the core features that the company is built upon today. But he was yearning for something more and knew it was time to fully self actualize. 

“I felt like I had a lot of self-growth to do. I had little idea of the amount of self-growth, but I knew there was something there. So, I wanted to try and start a company, something much bigger and use that to self-actualize,” says Alex.

After starting a successful lifestyle company called Sourcing.io and selling it off, Alex decided to go big and started his current company, Clearbit. Clearbit is a marketing data engine that combines public and private data sources to allow companies to truly understand their customers and sales interactions.

On this episode of Mission Daily, Alex shares more details about his path to founding Clearbit, his philosophy of building a fun culture within the company, and the importance of keeping your employees happy and motivated.

Quotes from Alex:

[On Alex’s interest in computer programming in college…] “If you are lucky enough to find something that you love that much early on in life and you can get paid for it, just go ahead and do it.”

“What’s lovely about computer programming is that there are no gatekeepers. You don’t have to have a degree. You can just get started from your bedroom or your dormitory I was doing paid consultancy and they had no idea that there was a 15 year old on the other side.”

“There are many ways to self actualize. And the way I define it is basically trying to become the best version of yourself. People will do this over their lives if they are introspective. But honestly, starting a company is one of the best ways of doing it because it really pushes you to your extremes and you have to evolve and learn, be creative and improve.”

[On the topic of Clearbit’s culture] “One of the best things I ever did at Clearbit was set up this feedback safe environment and co-create this virtuous cycle where people felt like it was safe to give me feedback and vice versa. That was one of the best things I ever did, that really showed me some of the blind spots that I had and I would not be the person today had I not done that.” 

[On the topic of public speaking] “You have these ideas and you think they are going to be helpful to other people, to your team, but you need to get people thinking and focusing on the ideas and not the delivery. If you’re constantly stammering and just looking evasive, then they’re gonna not trust you and not focus on the content.”

[On writing] “Your brain was made for having ideas not for holding them so as soon as I have an idea, I write it out. Otherwise, it’s just going to go into the ether.”

Mentions:

WeWork

JavaScript Web Applications

Sourcing.io

Nonviolent Communication

Carta

The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership 

The Great CEO Within

Richard Branson

Russian River 

Paul Graham

DJ Rosé

ClearbitX

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