Paul English is an entrepreneur’s entrepreneur. You might know him as the founder of GetHuman, or Boston Light Software, which sold to Intuit, which subsequently sold to Trend Micro.
The most famous name you might associate Paul English with is probably Kayak which sold to Priceline for nearly $2 billion.
English isn’t just strong in entrepreneurship. He is also a leader in philanthropy. English is the cofounder of the Winter Walk, which is a Boston homelessness awareness effort and Summits Education, which is a school system serving 10,000 students in Haiti.
His most recent project being Martin Luther King Boston, a $5 million project highlighting Coretta and Dr. King’s relationship with Boston. English also serves on the boards of Humanity Rises, Partners In Health and Village Health Works.
English’s newest business is Lola.com, which is his follow up to Kayak. Kayak has attracted investors with money from the former Google Ventures, General Catalyst and Accel Partners. Lola.com is a software platform aimed at business travellers, including the departments that manage them.
Lola combines customer-facing software for travellers, an administrative dashboard for travel managers and access to a human travel agent, who are full-time Lola employees.
English believes in putting his team first, customers second and profit third.
He says, “While it’s true that I’m customer-oriented, the reality is that I vote for my team first. I believe that if you create a culture and a team where people love working with each other, that magical culture and team will create magical products. And if you create a work environment that’s negative, where people are allowed to be arrogant, and argumentative in ugly ways, that’s not going to produce magical products. Getting this right has to do with how you recruit, how you train, how know when someone’s not working out.”
English’ recommendation if you want to start a company, is to be surrounded by good people and be careful whom you choose as the closest five people to you.
Says English, “There’s a saying that you’re the average of the five people closest to you.
If you want to stop drinking, hang out with people who don’t drink. Pick your coworkers carefully. You want to pick people who are visionary and who get a lot done, and who are ethical and caring and compassionate.”
You might be thinking that people like this don’t exist and can’t be found but English says you can. There are people out there that are highly intelligent and they are also good kind people.
English who works hard at being more kind everyday, knows his mistakes and what he needs to work on. English still continues to grow and chooses his words carefully when talking to others.
He believes in talking to his customers and not hiring a third party to talk them.
What better way to find out what is going wrong with a product than put the engineers who built it on the phone and learn from the customer what is going on.
English also believes there should be two goals when dealing with customer support and employee relations. The first is to make a good decision quickly, for a customer this would be solving their problem. The second is to improve the relationship with that person.
English is known for business and the other half is in philanthropy. He advises people who care about the state of the world to take action early on. By building your philanthropic habit early on and not waiting until you make it big.
“You have an accountability as a philanthropist to not only write checks, but to become a storyteller, sharing the word about the work those people are doing with the money you provide,” English says.
It’s time to really get involved and not just be the guy who writes the check.
That’s the English way.
Sonia Rina Landry is a passionate entrepreneur, speaker, author, and personal development coach. She is an outspoken advocate of the free market economy and has helped countless clients identify their core values, envision and realize goals that resonate with those values. She oversees several businesses online and offline.