Samuel Darwin is the co-founder of Joy Technologies and President of LinkDoctor. Starting his journey as a Business Analyst he is now helping people bring their vision to life. He has extensive experience in business analysis, management, leadership, and technological functionalities. His experience comes from working with Fortune 500 brands across the US, Australia, and the UK.
His core company Joy Technology and LinkDoctor is the result of his years of hard work. Bringing technology products and services to life is the core value of Joy Technology. His other company LinkDoctor came into existence from the idea of team management, innovation, and people-centric leadership. Sam’s motto in life revolves around honoring others, keeping an open mind, doing our best, and bringing joy to everyone involved.
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Table of Contents
Let’s learn a little about you and really get to experience what makes us tick – starting at our beginnings. Where did your story begin?
Samuel Darwin: I would say my journey to becoming an entrepreneur began when I was just a kid. One day I saw a newspaper advert on the internet. I remember cutting out the article, borrowing some cash from my dad, and rushing to a nearby internet cafe to see what it was all about. I read everything I could find on the internet, on domain registration and internet businesses, and I was hooked just like that. And, even as a kid, I knew the internet was going to be a gigantic thing.
From that moment, I knew I wanted to be part of this completely new paradigm. Even then, I trusted this hunch of mine. Throughout my life, I’ve noticed that sometimes I have a sense, an intuition of what the next big bet will be. So, with this passion for the internet and sense of the possibilities, I had this idea that as an entrepreneur, I could find solutions to other people’s problems.
I joined a corporate consulting organization and gave myself a year to learn what I could before setting out on my own. However, instead of a year, a decade went by, and this corporate consulting job took me to the US, UK, and Australia. I worked with c-suite executives of Fortune 500 brands across the board, from consumer product development and retail to education and academic institutions.
But after spending a good amount of time working for the corporation, I felt compelled to start a business with my co-founder. I didn’t want to be in my comfort zone. I wanted to explore how my vision, my entrepreneurial dreams, could shape my future. Our startup idea was an accident – One fine evening, over a coffee, I was explaining to my good friend how good I have become in SEO and link building. My friend was surprised to hear the results I’ve achieved, suggested that I start up, and offered to become the first client.
Our journey had a humble beginning. To bring in new business, we took a very agile approach. And after a few months, we became more confident, more certain that we had something unique to offer in the market. And we have never looked back.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up?
Samuel Darwin: I had a phase in my entrepreneurial journey when I thought I was being crushed. The fear of loss and failure was overpowering. A year ago, before I officially started up, we were able to create a revenue stream. This boosted our morale, and we felt positive and motivated.
This revenue stream, even before we officially started up, enabled me and my co-founder, Daniel Martin, to plan everything. We knew what we’d do, what roles we’d hire, and so on. But then came the shock – within two weeks of starting up, we had a huge financial crisis, and it changed the course of our entire plan. The revenue stream we were actively inclining towards dropped by 70%. It scared me to my core. I saw my long-held vision, my dreams, shattered within mere seconds. More importantly, the question of whether I’d be able to support my family burdened me the most.
But even then, me and my co-founder never seriously considered giving up. Yes, the hit was real, and we had to plan everything from scratch to match the present revenue stream. But we knew that ‘What doesn’t break us, would strengthen us. This thought kept me working to achieve my goals. And the incident left its mark. I became more seasoned and confident. I knew that no matter what situation comes up in my life, it too shall pass.
What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what would you suggest they do?
Samuel Darwin: In my opinion, the most common mistake entrepreneurs make is that they think they are entrepreneurs without picking a problem they can solve to benefit their customers and clients.
Many people want to be an entrepreneur, but dreaming of being an entrepreneur and becoming one takes time and attention. Their journey can only be successful if they have both a vision and an offering that can positively impact the lives of many. A vision to identify and solve a problem, scale it, and add value to the ecosystem are the true motives of entrepreneurs.
So if you can see a problem that, in its solving, will bring value to others, then revenue, scale, customers, and clients will automatically follow you. And the better the problem solver you are, the more recognition and authority you will gain in the market.
My bottom-line advice is that entrepreneurs should focus on solving a problem in a way that makes them stand out from the crowd.
Resilience is critical in critical times like the ones we are going through now. How would you define resilience?
Samuel Darwin: Yes, certainly resilience is critical in tough times. From my personal experience, I believe resilience has three crucial components. The first being self-belief. I think of resilience as a product of self-belief. If you have faith in yourself and believe that you can pass through any situation, come what may, that is resilience.
The next component is the ability to listen to and accept help from others when required. The belief “I know everything” will inevitably set you back. In tough times, resilience is not only self-belief but also believing in your team. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses and asking for help is a sign of a true and humble leader.
Another component is the ability to adapt and be nimble. Especially when that one strategy you were sure would succeed turned out to be your worst nightmare. But if you can move through a tough situation and adjust your processes quickly, you will create a better outcome every time.
What is most important to your organization—mission, vision, or values?
Samuel Darwin: Each is important, and without all three in action, the organization is out of balance. But what I would suggest is to prioritize them, placing vision first.
Without a vision, you’re traveling without a map. And, of course, the clarity of your vision determines not only your end goal (and outcome) but the path that leads you there. In an organization, vision underlies the aim towards which we work and how we measure the results. While mission and core values are as important as vision, they form its language and platform, too. Your mission is how you execute your vision. And without core values, nothing is sustainable. Your business will stand on hollow ground. I strongly believe that one cannot realize and sustain their vision without the company culture reflecting its core values.
And at the end of the day, values bring everyone together in an organization, forming bonds, fostering inspiration and new solutions. I cherish these shared experiences and shared successes with our team. It is deeply satisfying.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
Samuel Darwin: Well, most business people are working on integrating new practices and forming new habits these days. But if I have to single out the traits that made the most difference in my career, they would be these three.
First, before you can know others, know yourself. It’s easy to think we know everything about ourselves, but of course, we don’t. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses will help you flourish both personally and professionally. And now, up to a certain level, I think I know my strengths and weaknesses. I know there are some gaps. I try to bridge these gaps by learning and evolving every day.
Second, flexibility and moving in an agile manner have to be core characteristics of every businessperson. From experience, I have learned to be flexible, no matter the situation, and to find new ways to cope with challenges. This practice is working for me. I think I am doing a good job of being flexible and proactive with the changes in my organization.
The third essential trait is, as a leader, you have to be a cheerleader. Show your fun side. From time to time, your employees will need some motivation. Cheer them up, uplift and inspire, set the example.
How important do you think it is for a leader to be mindful of his own brand?
Samuel Darwin: I think it is very important for an entrepreneur, as a leader, to be their own best brand ambassador. Most of the time, a leader and brand are almost synonymous. People relate a brand to its leader, and brand affinity comes into focus.
We all see this with brands like Apple or Amazon. The name of the CEO comes to mind when we think of the brand. So, leaders need to lay the foundation in such a way that the audience can relate to it organically.
How do you monitor if the people in your department are performing at their best?
Samuel Darwin: I think before you can measure if a person is performing at their best, be sure that you have laid a foundation that enables them to perform at their best. This can only happen when you, as a leader, know the strengths and weaknesses of your employees. With this understanding, you can set up your team dynamics for optimal results.
The next imperative is to give them clear, unambiguous KPIs to hit. For this, we use the OKR framework. The OKR framework is straightforward; there is no subjectivity complexity in OKR. We have borrowed a lot from Gino Wickman’s book Traction and implemented the concept of a “weekly pulse” for tracking and measuring progress. It keeps us informed and in communication.
What advice would you give to our younger readers that want to become entrepreneurs?
Samuel Darwin: The first thing you would want to do is prepare yourself mentally and, if given permission and time, financially, too. Because entrepreneurship is not for everyone. It requires people who can navigate hard times by taking swift action; making difficult and often unpopular decisions.
As an entrepreneur, you must have the quality of bringing people together and have them work towards a common vision. Prepare yourself mentally by imagining some tough scenarios that make you uncomfortable. Observe your mental and physical reactions. Think of how you typically behave in stressful situations. And if you can save up before entering entrepreneurship, you’ll be glad for that bit of cushion in the hard times. Finances aren’t everything, but they go a long way to easing the stress of starting up.
The next thing I would suggest is to get a taste of it before jumping off. Work in an entrepreneurial setting, maybe even for free. Gain some insight into how things work and adjust your vision accordingly.
Last, find the right product-market fit before actually doing it. You can have hundreds of ideas with solutions to lots of problems. Get those ideas and theories validated by potential customers for feedback. Validating everything first before jumping into it will set you up for success in a way that helps you learn and grow, too.
What’s your favorite “business” quote and how has it affected your business decisions?
Samuel Darwin: This question is very personal to me. When I started my journey in the business field, I went into it with certain assumptions. I assumed I was good at certain things and bad at a few other things. My thinking was, to become an influential leader and evolve as a person, I would work on my weak points and bring them up to speed.
But one piece of advice changed my course of thinking. “What got you here, is the only thing that will get you to the next level.” And the explanation made sense to me.
“If you are good at five things and bad at six other things, your mind will consciously tell you to practice what you do badly. So when you put all your efforts into improving, then one day you may achieve mediocrity! But what if you have used all your efforts to improve the things you are already good at? You will excel in that area and can scale up. This scale-up will bring growth to you both personally and financially.”
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Samuel Darwin for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Samuel Darwin or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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