Meet Forbes Technology Council member Keith Krach.
If you search for Krach online, you’ll find a plethora of awards, accolades, and recognitions. You’ll find that he’s been named Ernst & Young’s National Entrepreneur of the Year, Life & News Transformational Leader of the Year, and Harvard Business School Association’s Business Leader of the Year.
How did he get all this recognition?
Krach created Ariba, one of the fastest growing software companies of all time, which went public just two and a half years after it was founded, and ultimately reached a valuation of $40 billion. Then he served as CEO and board chairman of DocuSign, turning the startup into a global powerhouse, transforming the way more than 400 million users in 188 countries sign agreements. Most recently, Krach has been nominated to serve in the state department as the under secretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment.
A unique set of attitudes and strengths enable Krach’s success and make him who he is. He is focused on family; he says, of all the accolades he has received, he is most proud of the moniker his kids have bestowed — “the FUN dad.” He is an early riser; it makes a big difference, he says, to take the quiet time of the morning to organize his thoughts and priorities. Finally, he is “a fanatical goal setter,” and always writes down the goals. (Once, he set 100 goals to meet over a six-month period: family, physical, intellectual, spiritual, and friendship goals. He met them.)
This month, we caught up with Krach to get his thoughts on service, teamwork, mentorship, and living our best lives. Here’s what he had to say:
I always say, “life is a team sport.” There’s nothing I love more than being on a team and working with teams of interesting, talented people. My life’s work has been focused on creating innovative companies and transforming social causes by building high-performance teams that challenge the status quo. I believe the team with the best people wins and that diversity of thought on any team is the catalyst for genius.
My biggest thrill comes from mobilizing and empowering people to embrace noble causes, and watching them accomplish things they never thought were possible — more than they ever dreamed of.
I have been nominated to head up economic diplomacy for the state department by serving as under secretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment. It would be a real honor for me to work side-by-side at all levels with the accomplished and committed teams in the state department. I feel that it would be the privilege of my life to serve this country and pay it forward to the next generation of Americans.
I fully appreciate the enormity and gravity of this role, especially in a time where the reality we face as a nation is one of ever-increasing cyber warfare and seemingly ceaseless variations of intense, perhaps even weaponized, economic competition. [In this role], I would work tirelessly and strategically here and around the world to optimize economic growth, energy security, and the health of our planet. I just want to make a difference—to make people’s lives better.
I went straight from high school to college to Harvard Business School to General Motors. I think if I had taken a year to volunteer, it would have been an incredible thing. I could have given a year to anything — military service, community service, the Peace Corps, diplomacy … anything. I have no doubt it would have made a big difference, made me a better person, and taught me a lot of important lessons.
One of my first bosses at GM and perhaps greatest mentor, Phil Monnin, said, “What we’re about to do isn’t written in any book. I am going to teach you everything I know by giving you 20 years of experience in four years. You just have to promise me you won’t quit. Are you in?” We did everything and went everywhere together. He taught me so much.
Too many young people, with their intelligence, energy and enthusiasm, get stuck in menial jobs, “learning the ropes.” Instead, they should be challenged to jump in with both feet, get a taste of real responsibility and start taking on the big challenges.
I’ve recently launched a new initiative called the Virtual Mentor Network — to develop the next generation of transformational leaders by making mentorship more scalable — so aspiring leaders can learn from a broad range of mentors, who can help them get the important life lessons that aren’t written in any book.
My professional legacy is not going to be the organizations I’ve built. It will be the lives I’ve touched, particularly the people I mentored.
On Living in the Moment
I’m so blessed to live with two little tornados of happy energy: my 7-year-old twins, JD and Emma. Every day, they show me how much we could relearn about life and happiness.
The twins live their lives as if right now, this moment, is the best time they’ve ever had in their lives. When I ask JD how his day at school was, he responds, “Today was the greatest day of my life.” (And you can tell he means it.) When we go to a new restaurant, Emma says, “This is the best food I have had anywhere in the world.”
Why don’t we all enjoy life like this more often? I realized that to live our best lives at home or in the office, we might just have to revisit the basics we might have forgotten along the way.
Top 10 Hacks for a Happier and More Fulfilling Life (as Taught by Emma and JD):
- Love everyone like a dog does.
- Share everything, from gummy bears to toys, even if you don’t want to.
- Say you’re sorry before you’re forgiven.
- Put someone else up on a pedestal — the higher the better.
- Never hold a grudge.
- Forget about the past and don’t worry about the future. Live in the here and now.
- Kiss each other goodnight, tell each other a story, and remember your prayers.
- Do whatever it takes to make your buddy laugh, no matter how naughty you need to get.
- Sing at the top of your lungs, love with all of your heart, and learn like you don’t need the grades.
- Hug like you’re drunk and run around the house with no clothes on every chance you get.
I challenge you to try the twins’ life hacks for yourself and see what a difference it can make. I promise you that, at the very least, you’ll find yourself smiling a lot more than you used to.