Dylan Mendes (25) is founding CEO of Usights, the largest sales community in our country, and co-organizer of the annual We Are Sales Conference. With this he wants to facilitate knowledge exchange between sales leaders for better and faster decision-making so that ambitious turnover figures can be achieved more easily. “The hardest moment was when we had to pivot.”
What do you consider to be your most important (entrepreneurial) characteristic?
“One quality that I continuously try to strengthen is creating a single priority and then fully focusing on it. Because I strongly believe that if we have only one goal and all money, energy and other resources are spent on the realization of that one goal, we will only increase the probability of it.”
“It’s something we’ve had to learn along the way. Initially, we wanted to go too fast with our community: podcast, newsletter, virtual events, physical meetings, a conference, and that for all types of B2B sales contexts. In the meantime, we have become much wiser about this and we have consciously taken a step back.”
“As a result, I also had to distance myself from the reflex of continuously wanting to please people. Focus also means saying ‘no’ more often than ‘yes’. I have to learn to be ‘antipathetic’. At least that’s how it feels to me when I have to reject people. Not always easy, but essential to stay focused.”
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made?
“That I my learning debt did not pay off faster. By that I mean that I have invested too little in the development of new skills. If I had engaged specific trainers or coaches from the start to teach me how to go through certain decisions or execute certain things, I would have been much further today. I am 100% sure of that!”
“Of course, it starts with self-awareness, knowing which competencies and convictions you need to work on. This means: identifying the bottleneck of growth, then finding out where the gaps sit down and then work on it. Here too, focus is everything. Learning to learn is of no use. Learning only occurs from the moment there is a change in behavior. And I think that is only possible if something is sufficiently relevant.”
“For a long time it was not a reflex to think: I should be able to do this, who can I pay to coach me in this. I have often made the mistake of wanting to reinvent hot water. As a founder you keep bumping into new challenges, so I’ll try to make that a reflex from now on. I therefore do not have to call in external help for everything, but intentionally looking for help can certainly do no harm. And an investment in yourself is still the best investment you can make.”
What have you learned from your most difficult moments?
“That it’s not nearly as bad as we sometimes think and that it’s better to stay focused on what we can control.”
“To give some context, the hardest moment was when we had to pivot. Initially we wanted to develop an e-learning platform for commercial skills. Until we received a lot of signals that something had to change. At a certain point we stopped ignoring those signals and explicitly labeled the situation with ‘there is a problem’. Originally this came in as if we had just failed. Game over. Fortunately, the will was there to keep going. But it was a difficult period anyway. We had been in business for a year and suddenly it felt like we had to start again with a blank page.”
“In retrospect, that was not the case, because we already had a better knowledge of the market, a good network of sales experts, and so on.”
“Long story short: we then compared different alternatives. Intuitively, and based on experience at the time, we devised a certain strategy and then executed it from a ‘trust the process’ mindset. That process was rather instinctive, but it did get us out of our ‘toughest’ moment. It is certainly a lesson that I will take with me for difficult moments that will undoubtedly cross our path.”
What do you value most about your friends?
“That they can empathize to a certain extent with what I do and aspire to, that they also show a genuine interest in it, speak their mind straight and that we can also have good moments together.”
“I must admit that since I founded my company it is not always easy to maintain old friendships. Sometimes I get the feeling that I no longer belong in certain groups of friends.”
“At the same time, I also notice that it is just a little easier for me to build friendships with other entrepreneurs, people who go through similar experiences and face the same challenges.”
Where would you like to live/work/do business?
“Something that my co-founder and I have always taken into account from the start is that we didn’t want to be tied to one location. We both want to explore the world, preferably as early as possible. Because we realize that this can become more difficult once we have a larger team. For the time being it works well because we only have to be in the country when a physical event takes place here. At other times we can work perfectly from anywhere.”
“This is certainly also something we have to take into account if we ever want to expand the team. On the other hand, we also know that this can be an extra asset in our search for extra talents who usually also like to work remotely.”