What I Learned in High School, And Why It Still Matters Today
I was recently interviewed for the website of my alma mater, Kent School, which is a leading independent secondary school in Connecticut, and it made me realize how much of what I believe in today reflects back on what I learned in high school.
One of the most important attributes I think anyone should have—whether in business or in their personal life—is self-reliance. At Kent, the school creed centered on self-reliance, directness of purpose and simplicity of life. These are the values that helped shape me as a person and as an entrepreneur, and they still guide me today.
Bill.com is in essence about all three of these ideals. I created Bill.com because I wanted to find a way to simplify the lives of business owners. When I started and ran PayCycle, the nation’s top online payroll company, I was overwhelmed by the vast amount of paper and unorganized data at the heart of running a business. I simply knew there had to be a better way. So I built Bill.com, with advancements in the cloud and social networking making this solution possible.
The idea of paper invoices, bills, and payments is so twentieth-century, and we know that at a consumer level. What's held the business community back is the sheer amount of collaboration that they must do across people, systems, and documents. But now, the Internet and the cloud are enabling that collaboration anytime and anywhere. Ultimately, when you connect businesses to pay each other and to invoice each other, you have enabled collaboration in a new way. And you have used technology to make life simpler, which really should be the point, after all. When you are freed from a cluttered desk and manual, tiresome tasks, you also can have that directness of purpose to focus on making a difference in this world.
But back to self-reliance, which is at the core of all I believe in. Technology, created and used correctly, should in fact free us to be able to do what we want to do when we want to do it. It should make us self-reliant, which I believe is what we are achieving with Bill.com. Self-reliance means that I can run a business without having to ask people to find documents for me. I can access data all by myself, no matter what it might be, on my desktop or device, no matter where I am. Self-reliance means I am one of the few CEOs who doesn’t need an assistant. I’m not weighed down by minutiae, so scheduling my own meetings isn’t a hassle, it is a way I can keep charge of my own day.
One of Kent’s beloved teachers Mr. Armstrong had this quote above his desk: “Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat.” Self-reliance can mean hard work, but in the end it sure is worth it. I am proud of all we have achieved—and will achieve yet—at Bill.com. And I am thankful to have enjoyed a high school education that continues to teach me today.