Farzad Dibachi is a serial entrepreneur, having founded companies as diverse as Noribachi, a custom LED lighting manufacturer, and Niku, which specialized in software for consulting companies, law firms and advertising agencies. Having most recently cofounded Inxeption, an enterprise software applications platform, he is also the co-author of the book Just Add Management: Seven Steps to Creating a Productive Workplace and Motivating Your Employees in Challenging Times.
I spoke to Farzad about management, where he finds inspiration for new companies, and what he learned from Larry Ellison.
You’ve been around a while, starting your career at GE and then joining Oracle in 1992. Now you’re known as a “serial entrepreneur,” having founded the companies Diba, Niku, Noribachi and now Inxeption, all enterprises with very different business missions and models. Where do you find inspiration?
I consider myself a builder and a keen observer. If you observe the world through the lens of a builder, you have a situation where ideas for doing things differently is a natural part of everyday activity. At any one time, I have dozens of ideas about various products, business processes, etc.
Having been lucky in starting several companies and having had some success, the process of starting something from scratch is no longer daunting.
You worked closely with Larry Ellison during your time at Oracle. What did you learn from him, whether inadvertently or on purpose?
I worked directly for Larry for several years as Senior Vice President of New Media. It was a tremendously important experience for me to be able to work with a man of Larry’s accomplishments on a day to day basis. I worked for him when I was in my 20’s and it shaped my thinking about ambition and accomplishment. I learned that you need someone to give you an opportunity, to open a door that you had been knocking on. If it hadn’t been for Larry I would not be where I am today. He saw something in me and promoted me. I learned a lot from him.
You co-authored a book entitled Just Add Management: Seven Steps to Creating a Productive Workplace and Motivating Your Employees In Challenging Times. Can you give us a summary of some of your more important lessons here?
The main focus of the book is accountability. You want employees who accept their responsibilities and employers who lay out the tasks clearly. You want employees to know what they are supposed to do, do it and update you as they make progress. For that to happen you need to explicitly tell your employee what they are responsible for and that employee needs to accept that responsibility. This is accountability.
Employees need to be accountable for both challenges and opportunities, not choosing only the opportunities and ignoring the challenges. Challenges always occur on any job and accountable employees own up to the problem and try to fix it. They don’t hide when problems inevitably arise.
I have used this slogan in the past: “Don’t duck.” If you’ve got a job, do it. Don’t duck out of responsibility.