Entrepreneurship, Start-Ups

Allan Grant on Hacking Entrepreneurship

I attended a meetup at Pivotal in Sydney, NSW today.  The speaker was Allan Grant, CTO and founder of Hired, and also an expert on dinosaurs (not really, although that joke was made).  Probably the most prevalent themes in Allan’s talk were:

  • It’s okay to be a little pushy.
  • It’s okay to break the rules.
  • It’s okay, and even necessary, to fail.

If you’re not experiencing some push-back, or turbulence because of the above three points- Wash, Rinse, Repeat.  To give you an example of Allan’s tenacity, see below:


Allan’s career of finding the line and occasionally (frequently) hopping over it began at a young age.  His first banning/suspension/kick-out came after he began modifying MUDs (for the youngsters like me these are multi-user dungeons, just think of as precursors to WOW).  Pretty soon he was banned, so he wrote his own.  He had a similar level of success in school, getting kicked out of not one, but two different schools to eventually land at a school aptly dubbed “Independence”.  Since only the tests were graded here, he found a measure of success.

He eventually landed his first job in web development.  However, on his first day the building was locked up, and being an ambitious youngster he REALLY needed to get to work.  He noticed an upstairs window was open and decided that entry via ladder was the most appropriate option. Because of this his first boss nicknamed him “Batman”.

These are just a few examples of Allan hacking his way to co-founding Hired and other companies.  There were failures and consequences, all the way from temporary account suspensions, to needing to fire 25 employees for a company to stay afloat.  However, through it all there was a mentality of “stronger through learning by making mistakes”.  I think it’s important to remind ourselves, that we often need to give ourselves permission to fail and break the rules.

At the end of the talk I asked for advice on how to be more of a rule-breaker (given my strong protestant work ethic).  Allan responded that he viewed himself as his D&D alignment:  Chaotic-Good.


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