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Ben Chestnut

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Ben Chestnut is co-founder and CEO of MailChimp. This “freemium” e-mail marketing platform helps over six million people and companies of all sizes to design e-mail newsletters, share them on social networks, integrate with other services, and track results. MailChimp is free for lists of up to 2,000 subscribers. It sends about ten billion e-mails every month.

Raised and based in Atlanta, Mr. Chestnut started MailChimp as a side-project in 2001. He funded it through several web-development projects, and grew it into a self-funded endeavor.

Mr. Chestnut studied physics at the University of Georgia and went on to study industrial design at the Georgia Institute of Technology, with a focus on interface and web design.

Companies and Investments

The Rocket Science Group (owner) MailChimp (co-founder and CEO)

Lessons Learned

Five Rules of Creativity-

1. Avoid rules. Avoid order. Don't just embrace chaos, but create a little bit of it. Constant change, from the top-down, keeps people nimble and flexible (and shows that you want constant change).

2. Give yourself and your team permission to be creative. Permission to try something new, permission to fail, permission to embarrass yourself, permission to have crazy ideas.

3. Hire weird people. Not just the tattoo'd and pierced-in-strange-places kind, but people from outside your industry who would approach problems in different ways than you and your normal competitors.

4. Meetings are a necessary evil, but you can avoid the conference room and meet people in the halls, the water cooler, or their desks. Make meetings less about delegation and task management and more about cross-pollination of ideas (especially the weird ideas). This is a lot harder than centralized, top-down meetings. But this is your job -- deal with it.

5. Structure your company to be flexible. Creativity is often spontaneous, so the whole company needs to be able to pivot quickly and execute on them (see #1).

Inspiring Quotes

Leaders are not what many people think–people with huge crowds following them. Leaders are people who go their own way without caring, or even looking to see whether anyone is following them. “Leadership qualities” are not the qualities that enable people to attract followers, but those that enable them to do without them.

Found in a home-schooling book and posted by Caterina Fake on Caterina.net

The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.

Henry David Thoreau

Nobody cares. Do it for yourself. Everybody is too busy with their own lives to give a damn about your book, painting, screenplay, etc., especially if you havent finished it yet. And the ones who arent too busy you dont want in your life anyway.

Hugh MacLeod

If youre waiting for a boss or an editor or a college to tell you that you do good work, youre handing over too much power to someone who doesnt care nearly as much as you do.

Seth Godin

Ben Chestnut's Quotes

Im not like some Zen Buddhist who doesnt like money. Moneys great, but you cant chase only money. Money is like the sun. You cant look at it directly. Itll burn you.

Ben Chestnut

Humans want to create lots of cool stuff, then they want to see other people using that stuff. A lot.

Ben Chestnut

Instead of focusing on the work, you focus on the entropy and the chaos and you get a byproduct.

Ben Chestnut

If youre an entrepreneur, following business advice is not bad–but there will be a time when your business needs you to un-follow everyone and just lead.

Ben Chestnut

Twitter’s a company. Facebook’s a company. Email is a communications medium. Email endures because it adapts and it adapts because it’s not owned by anyone or any company.

Ben Chestnut

Influential Books

Max Barry - Company by Barry, Max published by Vintage (2007)

- Iwoz by Steve Wozniak (Sep 25 2007)

- Blue Ocean Strategy How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim, Renee Mauborgne Harvard Business Review Press,2005 Hardcover

-Author- - Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies By Jim Collins, Jerry I. Porras, Jerry I. Porras as, James C. Collins

- Brand Gap How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design by Neumeier, Marty New Riders Press,2003 Paperback