“Do What You Are Passionate About”

June 13, 2017 Rieva Lesonsky


While there are some universal tenets of success, entrepreneurs wouldn’t be entrepreneurs if they didn’t march to the beat of their own inner drummer. Many successful small business owners have their own “secrets”—things they do or believe that help them achieve success.

Here some of today’s smartest, most innovative, highly successful business owners share their insights and success secrets with you.

Meet: Rob Bernshteyn, the chief executive officer of Coupa, a cloud-based spend management software platform. Rob’s more than 20 years’ experience in the business software industry helps him drive Coupa’s strategy and execution.

Rob is a guest lecturer at Harvard and Stanford business schools, and a frequent contributor to Forbes and Fortune magazines. He wrote his first book, Value as a Service, last year.

You can find Rob on Twitter @rbernshteyn

Rieva Lesonsky: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Rob Bernshteyn: CEO of an enterprise software company.

Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?

Bernshteyn: I wanted to take out the trash and start super early so I could learn it all and earn the right to be the leader of a special company. When building a next generation SaaS or even VaaS business, I thought it would be very important to be involved with each department and process in a company from the ground up. I could have joined as a CEO of several sizable businesses, but preferred to do something from the ground up where I could build it up with my own leadership style, insights and key learnings. I also didn’t mind being the person to take out the trash at the end of the day as well, as that’s just something you have to do in startups.

Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?

Bernshteyn: Learning to trust my own judgment with greater conviction, and staying positive in the face of any challenge.

Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?

Bernshteyn: Do what you are passionate about.

Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?

Bernshteyn: As Richard Branson would say: “Screw it. Just do it.”

Lesonsky: Do you have a prediction for small business?

Bernshteyn: The best leaders can turn them into big businesses.

Lesonsky: What’s your favorite book?

Bernshteyn: Be Here Now by Ram Dass

Lesonsky: Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?

Bernshteyn: “Every Day I'm Hustlin’”—Rick Ross...in other words, “working hard for it.”



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