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Loren Padelford
Loren Padelford, Former GM, Revenue at Shopify

Loren Padelford on leading for hypergrowth

Loren is the former GM, Revenue at Shopify. Under his leadership, Shopify Plus grew from an idea to $1 billion+ in revenue, more than 600 people worldwide, and 10,000 customers – in just five years. Lorne’s animated and inspiring talks on what it takes to be a great leader are a favourite among ScaleUp execs.

Hire the best people

It sounds obvious but it’s shocking how few companies do this. An amazing organization starts with an amazing team – the rest is irrelevant. The moment you lower the bar on the quality of your hires, your organization starts to slide.

Don’t make sub-optimal hires. Just wait. You’re better off having an open seat than a seat filled by someone who isn’t amazing. Why? You will end up firing the person who is less than stellar, then you must go through the entire hiring process all over again – this takes longer than just waiting for the right person from the get-go.

Set and hold high standards

Once you have a stellar team, challenge them by setting goals that seem impossible. How do you know when you’ve done this? They’ll throw their hands up saying, “Hell, we can’t do that!”

And that is the moment when innovation shows up: right at the edge of everyone yelling and screaming about how hard it is. The key is to not relent. Your job as a leader is to smile and tell them you believe in them and that you have their backs. Don’t let them off the hook.

Because it’s okay if you don’t hit these crazy goals. Since the bar was so high to begin with, they have probably overachieved just in the attempt to hit the goal.

Create the conditions for success

Next, you need to eliminate barriers. The highest-performing teams have the fewest distractions. They know their leader stands behind them, listening and helping. Make sure they have the right tools, technology, people, resources, coffee – whatever it is – for them to focus on achieving these crazy goals.

Invest in strong relationships

A company is not a thing. A company is a collection of humans who have decided to go in the same direction for a while. As a leader, you need your humans to have good working relationships and to trust you, and each other. Trust means people are more willing to do extraordinary things. Trust takes time, but this emotional bond is essential to building a high-performing organization.

Be great storytellers

Your team needs to know why they’re doing what they’re doing. Why the work matters; why it has an impact. To do this effectively, you need to tell a story.

Storytelling is how we convey massive concepts in an emotional way. All great achievements are on the back of great storytelling: nobody in history has ever done anything truly inspirational or exciting because it was the technically accurate thing to do. Without this story, you are just a technical firm doing interesting technical work.

Leaders need to become world-class storytellers. Tell and re-tell your story to your team every chance you get.

This story is also what customers want to hear before purchasing your product, and why investors will bank on you. With your story, you change worlds.


To learn more from Loren, and world-class leaders like him, join Lazaridis ScaleUp.
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