What did eBay founder learn from the mail room?

Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay, frequently noted that he learned more from a mail room employee than from the CEO when visiting a new company. That’s because people not in your industry or in your company are more likely to give you a perspective that you haven’t heard before. The key is to talk to people from other countries, of different ages, political persuasions, and ethnic groups. You want to talk to people who are in different social networks than you are in.

Richard Branson has had 300 different Virgin businesses. Some have worked and some have failed. He is prepared to try anything once. The idea is that you pilot your ideas quickly, get them out into the marketplace, and not be afraid of failure. To do this you need to be asking a lot of question to a lot of people.

What does all this have to do with the mail room?

We all know that questions are important as a catalyst for creative thought. But some people are much more inclined to question those that have successful companies. If you’re looking for innovative ideas on how to grow, you might ask someone with a different perspective about your business or your industry. You are never going to get the right answer until you start asking the right question! You just might find the answer in the most unpredictable place, like a mail room!


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