Craig of Craigslist… visionary or listener?

30 Jan 2006

Rich Sloan

Rich Sloan is chief startupologist and co-founder of StartupNation and host of StartupNation podcasts. He is also co-author of the acclaimed how-to book, StartupNation: America's Leading Entrepreneurial Experts Reveal the Secrets to Building a Blockbuster Business. Rich encourages you to make a comment under his blog posts or send him a personal message at member nickname, "Rich," here at StartupNation.

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We had a great hour with Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist this weekend, unearthing the seeds of his success and giving you access to him through our call-in radio program.

It was a great hour for us, and Craig loved the variety of calls and the opportunity to share his wisdom.

During the program, we highlighted some of Craigslist’s amazing achievements, like billions of page views each month (yes "billions" with a "b"), and Craig’s personal achievements, such as being named in 2005 as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. (subscription required to view link)

And we started referring to him on the air as a "visionary." Each time we said it, he deflected the compliment and put the spotlight on his 20-person team or on his millions of website users who’ve driven his incredible success.

Over the course of the hour, it was clear that Craig wanted to make this point: It isn’t so much about being a "great visionary," but instead it’s about being a great listener — to serve the customer’s needs.

And as we talked, it rang true — if we all just totally tune in to what our customers are seeking and respond by delivering what they want, then, well, the possibilities are many!

It’s such a simple concept, but one that’s so easy to overlook.

And there’s one very cool benefit once you start to truly listen: It kind of takes the pressure off of each of us who feels the intense pressure to be "brilliant." If we can just be diligent listeners (and react accordingly), we should each be sitting pretty — genius is optional!

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