John Purrier | Crain's Dallas

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

John Purrier

Background:  

Recently acquired by CA Technologies, Automic Software is an international software company that helps enterprises around the world automate millions of processes every day. As the company’s chief technology officer, John Purrier is responsible for Automic’s automation strategy. Purrier is based in San Antonio.

The Mistake:

A few years ago, I was CTO of a venture-backed startup in Portland, Ore., that was pretty successful and took in quite a bit of venture capital. We had folks interested in acquiring the company after a couple of years, and eventually sold it to a big telecommunications company. We had a successful exit—something all entrepreneurs are looking for—and were very excited.

I thought the acquiring company would nurture us. But when we came in, they were so excited about the level of talent they had acquired that they moved our executive team into new and expanded roles overseeing their existing products. We ended up really losing our focus.

I should have insisted that our focus stay on our team and our product, which was the reason they acquired us in the first place. But we allowed things to progress in that we got very scattered and took our eye off the ball. The folks that worked for us noticed we weren’t paying attention like we had been before, so they started to drift away. Some quit. It was a downward spiral.

The situation began to affect me personally because I felt like I was failing the company that we had worked so hard to build. My mistake was staying for the paycheck in a situation that made me unhappy, unmotivated and occasionally depressed.

Success is doing something you’re passionate about.

The Lesson:

We were also a little 50-person startup coming into a multibillion-dollar corporation, so trying to figure out how to say “no” to them was difficult. But we should have said, “You’re buying us for a reason, and here is how we are going to maintain the momentum we’ve built over the last few years.” But the role within the new company was very comfortable from a financial standpoint, and I got distracted. I had lost sight of the fact that success is doing something you’re passionate about.

Don’t let money become as important as doing a good job, and enjoying the job. If you’re doing something you love, the money will come. In retrospect, by settling for the safe route, I sold two years of my life away for less than I would have made on the open market. Not only that, but it also affected my personal and family life in a negative manner. Settling for the paycheck was soul-killing.

Follow Automic Software on Twitter at @automic

Photo courtesy of Automic