The founder I most look up to is someone who:

• Built a $10 billion company
• Acquired 12 MEGA brands
• Gets home daily by 6pm

Here’s 12 timeless lessons from one of the greatest entrepreneurs of our generation👇🏽👇🏽👇🏽
@RicElias is one of most successful + least known entrepreneurs of our generation.

His company Red Ventures is the largest digital media company in the US.

He’s also one of the most humble, kind hearted people I know. And an amazing mentor.

Alright, onto the lessons…
Lesson 1: You own your business, your business doesn’t own you

In 2017, I was feeling stuck after many years of running Ampush.

He encouraged me to use my work for personal growth + ask my team to do the same.

He reminded me that as the CEO/founder I can change anything
Lesson 2: Culture is what you tolerate.

No matter how hard I look, I can't find a better definition of culture.

If you allow complacency, people will stop growing.

If you tolerate people not knowing their numbers, they won’t know them.
If you give people 2 weeks, they will take it.

And If you let people be themselves, they’ll surprise you.

High bar + kindness = great culture.
"Jesse, that's a fact, not a reason."

Find a unique angle before investing your most valuable currency: time.
Lesson 4: Pursue the 3 Fer

Biz leaders often debate things like profit vs growth

Ric prefers to greenlight initiatives where we somehow deliver 3 wins. e.g., it has to drive growth, profit and learning

Also, underwrite acquisitions with multiple paths to success
Lesson 5: People are the purpose

6 months into our partnership, Ric asked "how come you never call and share your challenges?"

Me: "I'm like 2% of your business, its not worth your time"

Ric: "but you are my friend and I'm here to support you"

That left a huge impact
Side note: He has quietly funded scholarships for ~500 DACA students through his Golden Door Scholars program

He built a nonprofit called Road to Hire that has trained 1700 young people to date

And just signed the Giving Pledge, committing to giving away >50% of his wealth.
Raised $5M (half his own) to help Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and chartered a plane to deliver supplies himself

He never forgets People are the purpose.

He taught me that there is more to business than just capital, profit, and growth.
Lesson 6: Tell me how someone is paid and I’ll tell you how they’ll behave

The most important behaviors are the ones people do when no one is looking.

Incentives are that invisible hand driving what people do.

Great entrepreneurs understand incentives.
Lesson 7: Top down P&L targets are arbitrary, and dangerous.

"Ric, we will pursue a 25% EBITDA margin this year"

"Jesse, why not 35%? why not 15%?

Whatever target you choose, you will take actions to land there.

Instead, focus on being great at the actions and...
Be intentional - Target the actions you’ll take, accomplish, or other causal metrics instead of an end goal and you'll surpass your wildest dreams of profit margins!

P&L targets lets you and your team "manage" to that number instead of doing your best to grow the company.
Lesson 8: Profits are the only thing you can take to the bank.

Ric drilled in me that growing profitably and with stability are the precursor to business success.

He never wanted to hear about revenue, headcount or other metrics that didn't show profits increasing.
I was already a bootstrapper but he reinforced the importance in a world filled with companies losing tons of $ being in vogue.

That success enables you to have more impact in paying it forward.
Lesson 9: Candor shows you care.

Ric is a coach at heart. He makes it a point to offer candid but loving feedback.

His approach: remind everyone that he is focused on the problem not the person. Then dig in.
He never criticizes but always asks questions that get you reflecting.

He shares what he truly thinks in an honest but not attacking way.
Lesson 10: Price to value, not cost

This one sounds simple but is oft forgotten

If you price based on what it will cost you, you're a commodity business

If you price based on the value to your customer, you can invest in creating a great product + have great margins
Lesson 11: Everything is written in pencil

Ric recognized early that the pace of change in the world is increasing and that the only enduring advantage is: adaptability.

He built it into RV culture early on.

His teams don't just tolerate change, they drive it.
Lesson 12: Make every moment count - live with urgency

Ric was given a second chance at life and is making the most of it.

He was a passenger in the famous "Sully" flight that landed in the hudson.

It changed him profoundly.
Ric says: "I only collect bad wines, because if the person is there and the wine is ready, I'm drinking it."

He has an incredible TED Talk I love sharing

“3 things I learned while my plane crashed”

True to him, its efficient (5 mins) but packs a huge punch.

Go watch it!
Those are the 12 Lessons.

When it’s all said and done, I truly believe Ric and Red Ventures will have many books written about them.

I'm grateful to know Ric, count him as a mentor and to have learned all these amazing lessons from him.
If you enjoyed this thread, follow me!


I've bootstrapped multiple 8 figure businesses, grew Ampush to $400,000,000+ in FB spend, and now run a venture studio launching a profitable company every quarter.

And follow @RicElias too!

Recommended by
Recommendations from around the web and our community.

Great thread

Awesome thread Jesse. Super valuable lessons in here.