Brent Poole, CEO and Founder of Mindbloom (sold to Welltok in 2014), and former Amazon executive, shared his views on setting priorities in life, how money fits into the equation, and the challenges he faces now as he embarks on the next season of life, post-sale of his company.
Brent joined Amazon as the 113th employee, unsure at the time whether selling books on the Internet was a good idea. Ten years later, he was working so many hours that he missed most of the first three years of his son’s life. He knew it was time to move on. Inspired by the challenges he experienced during this time, Brent launched Mindbloom, a company that would help others find the life balance that had eluded him.
During our conversation, Brent dishes up insights about business and money relevant to anyone in the throes of chasing success and wanting a richer payday than just a big pile of money.
Here are a few highlights from our conversation:
At some point there is a level of wealth that can have a net negative effect on you. The cost in terms of stress, time away from family, and lack of balance can start to exceed the marginal additional income earned after a certain tipping point. Understanding where that point is for you, or if you have already reached that precipice, is important.
When it comes to giving back to others (mentoring), or your community, just say “yes” and then figure out how you are going to fit it into your schedule. Don’t wait for the all-clear sign or the perfect opening: it will likely not ever arrive. Just get in the pool!
For kids, understanding the value of money can only occur when they start to earn it. The easiest pathway for parents is to give our kids all of their wants and needs because we can. We do a disservice to our kids because they lose the opportunity to struggle, be self-reliant, and working is the key. Brent taught his kids to follow passions and excitement; money rewards may follow. If they don’t, you will still be happy doing what you love.
At career transition points, fear can start creeping into your thinking process: “What I’m going to do next?” There is identity in working, and satisfaction in finding something passion-driven that gets me out of bed with my hair on fire. Staying patient during this discovery period is key.
The biggest personal growth happens after periods of difficulty and pain.
The US has the highest standard of living in all humanity but we still can’t find reasons to be happy. What we really need to be happy and whole is much less than we think, and the idea of how much is enough changes as we age. We spend the first 40 years of life accumulating things, and then on the back end, start getting rid of and downsizing.
The definition of success has to be broader than just making more money and sucking resources from the planet. Money is only a means to achieving things that are important. The endgame needs to be tied to your unique contribution to the world, and the things you value most.
Thank you, Brent, for a powerful and interesting conversation!