How Dave Goldberg's Legend Lives On In Millions of Startup Founders

Business.com / Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Here's how the legacy of Dave Goldberg, late CEO of SurveyMonkey and husband to Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, lives on.

Dave Goldberg may not be a household name.

But for many entrepreneurs, this founder of LAUNCH Media, CEO of SurveyMonkey, and husband to Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg left a legacy that can not be reproduced after passing away unexpectedly on May 1, 2015.

In fact, Goldberg’s spirit will continue to live on for millions of startup founders around the world because his leadership style, vision, and philosophy of work-life balance should be followed closely if you want to ensure the longevity of your startup.

There’s More to Life Than Just Work

According to Shawn M. Burn Ph. D on Psychology Today, “Workplaces that support employee well-being and allow time for employee recovery are part of creating a sustainable workforce where employees don’t become burned out and ineffective.”

This is something that startup founders are often told, and claim to practice, but rarely follow through. Dave Goldberg, however, was an exception.

Goldberg and Sandberg were both aware of the importance of having a life outside of the office. In fact, the couple made it a point to be home by 6 pm so that they could have family dinner together. If there was anything work related to complete, the couple would get back to work after they had put their children to bed.

When Fortune remembered Goldberg, the publication stated, “That the abruptness of his death contrasted with the fullness of his life was a solemn reminder to the workaholics and strivers in the room: Life is short, and there is more to it than work.”

Related Article: De-stress the Workplace: 5 Ways to Foster Employee Well-being

Hire Wisely

Goldberg realized that experience alone wasn’t enough when selecting an employee. You also have to select individuals who can fit into your company’s culture. Goldberg once said, "We are a big business, but we try to pretend we are small. I want people to understand the pluses of both. If you have just been in a start-up, you don’t really understand how to scale things. If you hire people from big companies, they think their job is to go to meetings all day — that doesn’t work either.”

He added, "So it has to be people who understand both. You need to look for places within the organization where you can say, 'This is a place where I can hire a really smart, talented person who knows nothing about what we’re doing, but in a year or two in that job they are going to learn, and then they can do a lot more and will have a lot of raw skills.'"

Hiring the right people will prevent high employee turnover and will pave the way for employees to become your first brand advocates.

Build a Strong Company Culture

While a strong culture within your startup won’t necessarily guarantee success, it can improve the chances of its longevity. As CEO of SurveyMonkey, Goldberg created, “A culture that he, and we, could be proud of.” As one SurveyMonkey recalled, “They say the CEO’s personality shapes the company culture. I see that here at SurveyMonkey without a doubt. It’s a smart, high energy, positive culture with strong compassionate leadership. Dave greeted new employees with enthusiasm. It was clear that he genuinely cared about every employee.”

Another employee added, “We are a company that wants to help each other, we want to take ownership, we want to align with our teammates to overcome obstacles. This started with Dave and is a common thread that runs through our team. He wove so many good things in the fabric of how we operate, but being inspired to do great things with our team is one that resonates so clearly for me.”

Having a strong company culture will help team members jump on board onto your startup’s vision and they’ll also become your biggest cheerleaders.

Related Article: Why Company Culture Matters More to Employee Than Pay

Nice Guys Don’t Finish Last

There was one thing that Dave Goldberg will always be remembered for; being one of the nicest guys in Silicon Valley.

When Goldberg passed away, Jeffrey Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, tweeted that Goldberg was “One of kindest & most generous friends I've known.” Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, also recalled how kind and generous Goldberg was.

SurveyMonkey analyst Priyanka J. added, “I could just sense how proud he was of the team and the speed at which the business was growing. I have never before seen so much love, dedication, compassion and now sorrow resonate amongst a company or community like I have seen at SurveyMonkey. It makes me feel really proud and honored that I made the decision to work here, and it drives me to be even more determined to help make Dave’s dream for SurveyMonkey come full circle.”

Despite living in a cutthroat world, there is still room for the startup founders who are kind, generous, and sincere. Not only will that make your startup attractive to investors, it also builds brand loyalty among your employees and customers.

Share the Spotlight

For some startup founders sharing the spotlight with employees, or an, even more, well-known spouse, could be too much to bear. But, that wasn’t the case with Goldberg. Will Wegner, who joined SurveyMonkey in 2010, stated in TechCrunch, “Being a leader isn’t about taking credit or soaking up the limelight; it’s about living a genuine life, solving problems for your team and your company, and being proud of the people you surround yourself with.”

Startup founders should realize that it takes an entire team of people to make a business successful and not just the work of one individual.

Never Lose Sight of Your Vision

Goldberg was always a visionary. When working for Capitol Records, Goldberg convinced the label to sell its Beatles catalog on CD, which helped double sales. He was behind the idea of selling CDs in Starbucks. And, when LAUNCH Media began in 1993, the company made its money by selling ads on the CD-ROMs that were distributed monthly.

When he joined SurveyMonkey his vision was to build a great team. Tim C.H., an employee for SurveyMonkey, stated, “I first met Dave during my phone interview for SurveyMonkey and I was blown away by his vision for the company and its products, but also his vision for the culture. Like most early people who joined SurveyMonkey, I wondered ‘really, surveys?’, but he sold me on the plans for expansion and additional data services. He had an amazing product vision.”

Startup founders should always have a vision of where they want to take their business and how to get there - no matter the obstacles that they have to overcome.

Related Article: The Value of a Degree: Why Silicon Valley Startups Need More MBAs

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