Lorenzo Gomez, III, Chairman, Geekdom | Powering Initiative
June 10, 2019
A lack of a college degree didn’t stop Lorenzo Gomez, III from championing some of our city’s biggest developments in tech. “I didn't like going to school. I did not like being told to read things that I knew that were just going to be on a test. [But] I was very desperate for knowledge,” he explains. “To me, I was very desperate and because of that desperation, I became very innovative. My innovation was, ‘How do I go read books and learn in another way?’”
While he didn’t follow the traditional path to higher education, Lorenzo maintained his quest for wisdom. His inspiring journey took him from a job in a grocery store stockroom to leadership roles at Rackspace, Geekdom, and Geekdom Media. In 2017, he authored The Cilantro Diaries: Business Lessons from the Most Unlikely Places to share what he’d learned with the next generation of entrepreneurs. Lorenzo accomplished all of this by turning to the most influential and well-informed people in his network: “I assembled a Jedi counsel. I call it the ‘Personal Board of Directors’, but that truly was my superpower. I just assembled the smartest people that I could find, that I wanted to be in deep community with. I went to them constantly for knowledge, but really for discernment.”
Read below for more highlights from Lorenzo’s engaging conversation with our Marketing Director Angelica Palm.
Focusing on Your Strengths
“The first thing you need to do is to forget the notion that you need to be well-rounded. I think this is one of the great lies of our time. This goes back to a concept that we learned at Rackspace… which is a “Gallup” methodology. It was such a mind-blowing concept when they said, ‘Forget those things that you're weak at and cut them loose.’ It's this whole notion that if your kid gets a report card, we all focus on the two C's, and not the two A's. But what if we lived in this world where you forgot about those two C's? You're never going to be world class at them. If I double down on those two A's, I could be one of the best in the world at them. Great entrepreneurs understand what their A's are and they double down on them. Then they also find the people that supplement them. They find the people where their two C's are A's to those people. An entrepreneur can build a team where the people around them compliment the things they're not world class in.”
Finding Passionate Employees
“It’s almost like dating, right? Anybody can be really nice for two hours on a date… anybody can be really nice and professional for a one hour interview. If you're an entrepreneur, this company's your baby. It's your passion. You obsess about it. You wake up every day and you compare everything to it. You're not going to get that from every employee, but you want someone who is passionate about the mission. It doesn't mean they have to obsess about it like you do, but I think you're on a mission to find where that passion is for your mission.”
Turning Customers Into Brand Ambassadors
“If you are a company and you're going to attack it with marketing, then your product better perform. The first thing you have to do — the first R&D dollars you ever spend — is in making your product better. When your product is better, only then can you fix the infrastructure around it to really scale it up. One of the most game-changing methodologies that we ever learned at Rackspace was the concept of Net Promoter Score. The customers you want are the ones that will put their reputation on the line and refer your business to someone else. And if you think about it, that's such a game-changing notion.
The Net Promoter methodology allowed us to see who are the people that were putting their reputations on the line to refer us and how do we create more of them? How do we take the people that are not and move them to be promoters of our service? That's very hard because it requires you to listen to your customer, and it requires you to have the stomach to swallow all the bad stuff they're going to tell you that you do. They're going to tell you that you stink at this and that you suck at that, and you just have to be able to take those punches in the face and do the things they need you to do in order to make your company better.”