Mark Arnoldy is the CEO of Possible. He leads overall strategy, focuses on building a remarkable team, develops partnerships, and makes sure we never lose sight that everything is impossible until it isn’t. Prior to Possible, Mark worked closely with a Nepali social entrepreneur for three years to create an innovative way to treat malnourished children, and he helped create two U.S. businesses that fund nutrition programs in Nepal. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Colorado at Boulder, completed Harvard’s Global Health Effectiveness Program, and was a Fulbright Scholar to Nepal. Mark is an Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar, 2014 Rainer Arnhold Fellow, Cordes Fellow, and Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellow. In 2014, Mark was named one of Forbes Magazine’s top 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs. Follow him @markarnoldy.
Who is your hero?
Jim Grant. Nicholas Kristof said he was “a little-known American aid worker who probably saved more lives than were destroyed by Hitler, Mao, and Stalin combined through his promotion of what became known as the child survival and development revolution.” He also shared my now-favorite quote: “Morality must march with capacity.”
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Give generously but not pathologically. Giving is the secret to get ahead. Don’t believe me? Read Adam Grant’s book “Give and Take,” and it will show you how you can live generously without becoming a doormat.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
I’ve hurt the team most by being too slow to ask people to leave. If you give people great context and they aren’t succeeding, move on quickly. Letting people go is the hardest decision you’ll make as a leader, but it’s your most important. Don’t dither and don’t make excuses for low performance.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
Technically it’s my first 90 minutes. But I work on my “daily commitment” to my team, which is defined as something that is big enough to matter and small enough to ship in one work day. I never allow meetings in the first 90 minutes of my day because it’s when I have the most energy and attention to get my best work done. Staying true to this is one of the hardest aspects of my day because it’s so tempting to jump into reactive work.
What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
If you can’t sell friends and family on your idea, it’s either not good enough, not clear enough or not communicated well. (or a combination of those options). Don’t try to raise money from others until you can successfully raise it from friends and family. And ask them to be brutally honest with you about their hesitation to invest.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Take a solo retreat. To do that, find the least costly week out of the entire year to disconnect for five days. Then go somewhere where you can’t use the Internet or your phone, bring a stack of mentor-suggested readings, and map out a strategy for how you will tackle the big, important moves that can only you as the leader can make.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
The driving force behind our for-impact culture is getting remarkable results for our patients. We will be successful when everyone can get high-quality, low-cost healthcare regardless of their position in society.