Last week, Wiley Cerilli sold his two-year-old startup, SinglePlatform, for $100 million.
He’d like to thank his mother for his success as an entrepreneur.
1. Magic Johnson once said, “Its not whether you can become successful, its how many people can you help become successful.”: I love this quote, but for my mum, it wasn’t about how many people you help become successful, it was always about how many people you can help. Period. She helped thousands of women by starting her women’s health clinic. She inspired me to volunteer for my camp, and to build a business that helps small businesses. Our business was built around helping small businesses, and this stems from my mum’s commitment to helping others.
2. Business is in the Arts: My mum gave me music, poetry, and the arts. She had me listening to the Beatles since I was born, playing the piano in kindergarten for 6 years, writing poetry books by third grade, and signing in a cappella group in high school. Songs are written by bands as teams, everyone adding something unique to the overall sound of the song. Like each member of an exec team, each person is depended on to pull their own weight, and without any one of them, the song is incomplete.
3. Be a Dreamer: There is a TedTalk that talks about how kids that as kids grow from lower school to upper school, the % of them that believe they are creative drops significantly. I bet that is not the case for Tech CEO’s. My mum taught me to never stop dreaming. I have tattoo on my back that is there for two reasons. The first is something my dad told me the night before he past away. The second is because my mum taught me how to dream, to Imagine, and we used to listen to John Lennon’s “Imagine” all the time.
4. You can learn a lot from Dr Seuss’ The Sneetches: The Sneetches (link) is a story about these yellow animals/creatures, and some had stars on their bellies and some did not. Those with stars felt special, and those without were discriminated against. Then there was a machine created to put starts on the bellies of those who didn’t have them, and so everyone had stars. Then nobody could tell each other apart. I learned that it doesn’t matter what college you went to, how well you scored on an SAT, or if you have “learning differences” (which I do), those things don’t define you. They are titles that don’t matter. What matters is the passion you have inside of you and how much you are willing to commit to it. My mum loved this story, she read it to me dozens of times. She even has a star tattoo on her ankle.
5. Follow your passions and you will never get lost: I was around 17 years old, my father had just passed away, money was an issue to say the least, and my mum sat us down for a talk. We sat in our backyard and she asked us for permission to leave her job and start her own business. It was a risk. A big risk. But for me, it was one of the biggest lessons I would ever learn. She was so passionate about helping people, she needed to follow her dreams. I remember having the same talk with her when I was ready to drop out of NYU the first time, the second time, and when I eventually left Seamless to start SinglePlatform. It is because of her that I knew how to take chances like that. I owe this business to my mum.
I love you mum. Thank you.
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