- Learning platform Kahoot! is rapidly growing.
- Because of this, CEO Eilert Hanoa often has to make quick decisions.
- Hanoa shared his best advice on leading a company in growth mode with Insider.
- This article is part of a series called “Leaders by Day,” which takes a look at how prominent business leaders are tackling various challenges in today’s economy.
Eilert Giertsen Hanoa, CEO of Norwegian quiz and learning platform Kahoot!, thinks you should “never waste a good crisis.”
That saying comes from Rahm Emanuel, former chief of staff to President Barack Obama from 2009-2010, at a time when the US was in the depths of the Great Recession of 2007-2009. It’s the idea that crises can actually present learning opportunities for those who choose to seek them out.
It’s a mindset that’s help him lead Kahoot! through challenging times.
“I think there is something to it,” Hanoa told Insider. “What can be seen as a challenge or a hurdle that you are not able to overcome might also help you sharpen your thinking and challenge you or your beliefs.”
Hanoa tries to live by this leadership principle as he steers a growing Kahoot! through uncertain times.
The company, which is a browser-based educational technology that provides multiple-choice quizzes, experienced a surge in popularity during the pandemic. Kahoot is listed on the Euronext Growth in Oslo, but is considering a dual listing in the US,Bloomberg reported. The company currently has a market cap of over $US5 billion as of February 3. The company’s revenue hit $US17 million in Q4 of 2020, up 230% from the same quarter in 2019, according to its financial results.
The company continues to expand its offerings with Zoom and Bitmoji integrations, new free and premium tools for school and work use, and its recent acquisition of language learning platform Drops.
Leading a company through such a critical period of growth can be daunting, but Hanoa said it has been a good opportunity for him and the rest of the company to learn and grow.
Along the way, he’s relied on a couple crucial strategies to steer the company.
Compete with tomorrow
Hanoa is always looking for new ways to push his team to accomplish even more.
That involves getting out of your comfort zone and questioning your own beliefs. In Hanoa’s words, that means “competing with tomorrow,” or engaging in a form of competition with yourself to make sure you’re constantly improving.
“That’s the mindset that forces you to come out of the comfort zone and really challenge your own beliefs,” he said. “What was good enough yesterday is not good enough tomorrow. How can we get there? What do we need to do differently to get there?”
Your biggest competitor, Hanoa said, needs to be yourself. That’s why he encourages his team members to share new ideas and listen to new proposals, whether they come from a new junior hire or a senior advisor. In fact, he said that having a constant flow of fresh talent helps bring in new worldviews and ideas for improvement.
When faced with new ideas, Hanoa said leaders need to have “less pride in the origin of the idea and more pride in making it work.”
It’s important to take careful considerations when a new idea is presented to you. But you’ll often have to act quickly.
Balance swift decisions with deliberate reasoning, Hanoa said. It’s a lesson he learned from his father, a neurosurgeon who gave Hanoa the advice to “hurry slowly.” In his father’s line of work, it’s necessary to work quickly, but a rash decision could cost patients their lives.
That’s why it’s important to find a balance.
“You want to be eager, passionate, and forward-leaning, but at the same time with quality and doing it right,” Hanoa said, adding that he is “constantly evaluating and making sure that we have quality in every single step on the way to deliver that at the end.”
Even at times of high growth, Hanoa makes a point to reflect on company decisions before moving forward to make sure that each project is properly executed. He doesn’t think of it as lost time, but instead as a necessary measure to make sure he’s doing things right.
“Never underestimate the time it takes to build something solid,” Hanoa said. “Sometimes you have to say, ‘Let’s take a half a step back to really evaluate this.'”