We know a lot about our CEO, Henry Albrecht, but One Million by One Million’s Sramana Mitra recently sat down and dug even deeper. Here are five of the most interesting things we learned from the interview.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your story. Where were you born, raised and in what circumstances?
Henry Albrecht: I was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. I’m the youngest of four boys. I think that probably says a lot about my personality, competitiveness and desire to be heard. I had two wonderful parents who embodied the Midwestern work ethic. My dad was raised on a farm in Iowa. He was the man of the family at age 10 when his father passed away and was driving a tractor before he could reach the pedals. We were raised to work hard and be successful. As the youngest, I was always trying to beat my older brothers – even though they beat me a lot more often than I beat them.
Sramana Mitra: What did you go on to do for college? What did you decide to study?
Henry Albrecht: I went to Rice University my freshman year and loved it. I really enjoyed the academic rigor and was into English Literature. But I also wanted to play basketball. So I transferred to a smaller school, Claremont McKenna College in Los Angeles, where I combined my passions: Business and economics, English literature and basketball. At the time of graduation, my thoughts were to either become a novelist, English professor or get a job in economics. But first, I was hired to play professional basketball in Portugal for the following year.
After Europe, I moved to the Bay Area and joined a firm called Law and Economics Consulting Group as an econometric consultant, which meant we helped big companies analyze big data before big data was cool. I loved the analytics and statistics of the job, but I really didn’t love the consulting model, which isn’t about building cooler things faster and being as efficient as you can. Ultimately, it’s about billing hours. I didn’t find that mission-driven. I found myself jaded because of that model.
Sramana Mitra: So you decided to attend Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School. And then took a job as a product manager at Intuit. What next? How did Limeade evolve?
Henry Albrecht: I moved back to Seattle at 35 and took a job at a venture-backed enterprise software company called Bocada as the VP of Product Management. It helped me re-ignite this idea I had while at Intuit: If Intuit can build a system that helps you measurably improve your financial well-being, what if I could create a software system that can measurably improve your overall well-being?
It sounded a little absurd to my Iowa farmboy father, but I managed with enough cash and curiosity to eventually get him to be one of the first investors of the business. I quit my job and started working on the problem.
Enter Limeade. We decided to frame it in the context of organizational well-being because companies have such a powerful role in people’s improvement. Work is a core part of life. What you do in your work and what you decide to do should be very aligned with who you are as a human being.
Sramana Mitra: In the process of building Limeade, what have you learned from failure?
Henry Albrecht: We learned that you can’t make every customer happy. Customers have to be willing to take culture seriously, otherwise you’ll have a really unhappy customer interaction.
The other thing is we drink our own Limeade. Being in the business of employee well-being, we better be the best at this. No other companies are more intentional about their culture and how they bring their values to life than we are at Limeade. And that focus, effort and authenticity shines through when we show up for customers.
Sramana Mitra: You said you have a passion for literature; what are you reading these days?
Henry Albrecht: I’m reading psychology. Because I’m a self-improvement nut, I’m reading a lot about the stages of learning and development and how to interact with people. As we grow and scale our company, I’m focused on being mindful of my own emotions and how I interact with people. Ultimately, this awareness will make me a better dad, husband and leader.
Read the full interview here