Thank you to the 1,400 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions!
I hope reading
helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with Cory Hewett
7 Questions with Cory Hewett
Name: Cory Hewett
Current title: : Co-Founder
Current organisation: Gimme
Cory is a husband, father, venture-backed startup founder, and non-profit board member. He loves working in niche industries that are underserved by legacy suppliers. He gets to work with his best friend, Evan Jarecki, as partners to bring innovation and speed to their ventures. He's a Georgia Tech Electrical Engineering alumni and previously worked on avionics of future and concept jets at Gulfstream Aerospace.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?
As a founder of a hardware and software startup, we've needed large lumps of cash to get new projects or products started. (usually to cover hardware NREs, or "Non-Recurring Engineering", which for us are commonly in the mid-six-figures). This required some creativity, as well as dilution, to raise the necessary funds. We're grateful for the support we did receive, but managing cash flow is a big item for leading a SME. I find challenging the lack of credit facilities and credit worthiness scoring, independent of personal guarantees, to grow and expand the company without giving up equity.
2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I used to own vending machines! Starting in middle school, I bought my first quarter-operated spiral gumball machine. These are called "bulk candy" machines in the industry. I expanded my route of bulk candy machines until I could afford a proper snack machine and stacked can vendor. I added more machines like this until I moved out of state for college. I had to hire my first employee to help me manage these machines, and it created an awareness of the challenges around managing product inventory at the machine and warehouse, as well as the tremendous trust placed on employees handling cash. It gave me the idea around software and hardware to replace pen/notebook tracking.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
My wife and I subscribe to a train of thought that we're managing our energy more than we're managing our time. So we put the things that require the most energy or decision-making at the very beginning. At work, we call it our "MIT" or Most Important Thing and we share this at our all-hands stand up meeting and always work on this first.
At home, this is our daily schedule
04:45 -- awake.
05:00 -- wife: gym; me: reflective writing and reading.
06:00 -- switch
07:00 -- family breakfast
07:25 -- everyone leaves for work/office/school
08:00 -- Gimme team stand up meeting
18:00 -- family dinner
18:30 -- leisure/friend time
19:45 -- child bedtime
20:30 -- parent bedtime
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
I continue to be reminded of this over and over again. We lead through actions, not words (or emails). We build company culture through how we act, and the team behaviors we recognize, reward, or even tolerate.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Thinking Fast and Slow by Kahneman. It's helped build in me a tremendous empathy and appreciation for the quirks or biases in all of us.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?
We enable and empower our team members to build their own leadership capacity by always giving them ownership and agency over some part of their job. That requires a tolerance for risk and mistakes by leadership, with a higher focus on innovation and learning.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?
One of the most empowered times I've felt is when I had a very big decision weighing on my mind. I reached out to my investors and people in the startup community that I trusted for guidance and advice. The reply email I got back from our largest seed investor, who had put a meaningful piece of his personal wealth into our company, said simply "As you make your decision, be yourself and don't do anything different."
At the moment, candidly, I was actually hoping for more. I wanted to do the "right" or "best" thing more than I wanted to trust myself or my inner judgement.
With the benefit of reflection, I realized this advice at this early time in my entrepreneurial journey, helped me grow my own muscles of judgement and decision-making. I felt comfortable asking for advice. In my mind, he knew I was still building the confidence to take appropriate risks on behalf of the company.
It matches with a principal in EO (Entrepreneurs Organization) where we never give advice. We only share experience or stories. In my experience, this has been empowering.