Being a founder, entrepreneur, or a business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur“ we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Paul Roberts.
Paul Roberts is the CEO of Kubient, the cloud advertising marketplace that enables advertisers and publishers to reach, monetize and connect their audiences efficiently and effectively. Paul is a serial entrepreneur who has a passion for starting and growing companies while developing win-win partnerships.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Paul Roberts: My backstory has many twists and turns. I grew up playing sports on Long Island, and that motivated me to have a fighting spirit when it came to my life goals. In college, my dream was to become a kindergarten teacher but like many 18-year-olds I changed my mind. Ultimately I ended up working on Wall Street, riding the .com boom, and starting a successful influencer marketing company before switching to fight ad fraud via building advertising technology.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Paul Roberts: Being involved in digital advertising for close to two decades, I realized there was much to be done about ad fraud. The systems in place were inefficient and outdated, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars lost. To me, relying on a broken system seemed like a waste of time. I wanted to address the issue head-on and create the best technology needed to solve this issue.
In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
Paul Roberts: As a competitive athlete throughout my youth, during high school and college, I learned a lot about taking risks and thinking strategically. I’ve had a drive to succeed since I was young, and I can thank playing sports because of it. I have 3 sons, and I’ve always encouraged them to play sports beyond the fun of the game, because it drives you to think beyond yourself, gives you confidence in yourself and your choices, and is a great way to play to your strengths.
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
Paul Roberts: An early boss of mine gave me great advice to do work you care about and never forget why you started. As an entrepreneur, you will always face challenges; most people quit because they either do not care enough to see it through or they forget their “why”. I am very passionate about stopping the massive amount of ad fraud plaquing our industry and during the hard times, I always go back to the original reason we started.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Paul Roberts: 10 years ago, the industry was vastly different. People didn’t see a need for our product, but the “tried and true” methods were starting to get outdated. We IPO’d very early on, and people caught on to the importance of our company and what we were doing for the future.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
Paul Roberts: I knew from very early on that Kubient would benefit from being a public company and I was advised to wait before we began that process. Looking back, I should have followed my gut instinct and taken Kubient public sooner.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?
Paul Roberts: Treat everyone as you’d like to be treated. As a dad of 3, I understand if my employees need to take time off for family emergencies, events, and align our schedules to correspond with school breaks. It’s important to remember that work is work, and at the end of the day, we’re all human.
What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?
Paul Roberts: You need to be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. I witness a lot of business leaders that feel the need to have every answer on every topic. People appreciate honesty when you can share your knowledge on familiar topics and more importantly say something that is unknown to you.
Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?
Paul Roberts: Sometimes, it’s difficult to admit you don’t know something, especially when it’s with a potential client, or trying to secure funding. It’s always admirable to take a moment, check with a colleague, or circle back versus back peddling or over promising and under-delivering.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Paul Roberts: If you want to be an entrepreneur you need the leadership and willpower behind your idea. You need to fully believe in the concept, and be willing to put in the time and effort to see it through. Flipping your mindset from “can I” to “I can” can make a world of difference, and asking for help should be seen as a strength and not a weakness.
Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?
Paul Roberts: When you work at an established company, you have a certain rhythm you come to expect; your workload is somewhat familiar, you expect to be paid a set amount of money every two weeks, etc. As an entrepreneur, it is very rare to have the same week twice and you have to have the personality to deal with extreme possibilities on both ends of the spectrum.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Paul Roberts: The day Kubient went public on the Nasdaq, I took a short break and took a walk to just take it all in. My team and I were able to accomplish something very few companies ever do. That day I felt a mixture of pride for my team and a reinvigoration of drive to exceed the expectations our new shareholders have for our future.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Paul Roberts: I was given advice to not go public and raise money privately to help scale the business. This process took longer than expected and we were quickly running out of runway. I had to sit down with my entire team and explain if we ran out of money, they could decide to stay on and keep pushing forward or I would be happy to help them find jobs with other companies. Each and every employee decided to stay on without pay and we eventually raised the money and took the company public.
Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
Paul Roberts: I was in constant communication with the team on the fundraising and eventually, we raised the capital.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.
We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Resilience is going with your gut, versus going with the status quo. When all the odds are against you, fight for what you believe in, and who you believe in. Resilient people are determined, driven, and focused, believing in themselves and their business to succeed.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
Paul Roberts: I grew up in a household where both parents worked hard to try and make ends meet. There were times we went without and I witnessed both parents doing everything they could along with sacrificing for their children. My parents instilled in me a strong work ethic and possibly even more important, a certain resilience. When things were tough, I remember my parents telling me that tough times are temporary. You need to work as hard as you can and keep moving forward.
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?
Paul Roberts: I believe if you cannot keep a positive attitude during difficult situations you will struggle as an entrepreneur. Not only that, but your entire team will look to you for a temperature on the company’s future. If your team thinks you are defeated, they will look for the exits.
Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.
Paul Roberts: Positivity is contagious. When you feel scared, intimidated, or in a negative space, others can feel it too. Being positive helps everyone feel that they’re on the same page or frequency. Being positive in a negative situation can help bring clarity and focus to a situation, leading to a more favorable outcome.
Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?
Paul Roberts: My wife bought me a simple bracelet that I wear every day that says “This Too Shall Pass”. I always remind myself that everything, both the good times and the bad times are temporary. I use this to remind myself when things are not going well to just keep working and pushing forward and the good times will follow. When times are good, I try to savor them because I also realize the feeling is temporary.
How can our readers further follow you online?
Paul Roberts: I can be found on Twitter @PaulD_Roberts
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with
this. We wish you continued success and good health!