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Secrets of Success: David Hassell

There are some “rules” of business success most entrepreneurs abide by. But many also have their own “secrets”—things they do or believe that helped them achieve success. In “Secrets of Success,” a weekly interview series here at’s Small Business Forum, I ask some of today’s smartest, most innovative, most successful business owners to share their insights and success secrets with you.

Meet: David Hassell, the founder and CEO of 15Five, performance software that creates an open weekly dialogue about what’s most important, so managers can react quickly to employee challenges to increase employee engagement, productivity and morale.

You can reach David on Twitter @dhassell.

Rieva Lesonsky: What did you want to be when you grew up?

David Hassell: Until second grade [I wanted to be] a doctor. But then I started my first “business” with a classmate and I’ve wanted to do be an entrepreneur ever since.

Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?

Hassell: I started my first real business after graduating college, mainly for freedom — the freedom to work on something of my own design and the possibility of creating financial freedom. I started my latest business to not only create financial freedom, but also work on something meaningful that can improve the lives of potentially millions of people.

Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?

Hassell: The pivotal moment for me, which actually changed the nature of what success means to me, was deciding that I would only work on things that were meaningful. For me that meant they had the potential to create a significant, positive impact in the lives of others, including both employees and prospective customers.

Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?

Hassell: Focus on the deeper purpose. I was first introduced to this concept by Simon Sinek before his now-famous TEDx talk, and it’s had the single most biggest impact in my ability to build a great product, team and company.

Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?

Hassell: Meditation. The constant stream of distractions and stressors for an entrepreneur can drive most people crazy. In addition to other benefits, meditation helps build your strength in maintaining focus, staying centered and being less emotionally reactive to the daily stressors. Furthermore, the difference in quality between focused work done in flow and distracted work done while multitasking is profound, and meditation is the best tool I’ve found for getting into focused flow and building immunity to both internal and external distractions to help me stay there.

Lesonsky: Do you have a prediction for small business?

Hassell: I predict that the best talent will continue to flock to companies that can offer their people both meaning and purpose in their work, and a great culture. This is both due to the the Millennial generation’s desire for meaningful work, and the rising competitive standard that’s available when employees consider their options when considering what jobs they will take.

Lesonsky: What’s your favorite book?

Hassell: Unique Ability by Catherine Nomura and Julia Waller from The Strategic Coach. I believe the concept that we all have a “unique ability,” the intersection between what we’re passionate about and what we’re naturally good at, that gives us energy and is our greatest opportunity for contribution.

Lesonsky: Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?

Hassell: Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.—Robert Louis Stevenson

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Author information

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and, and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.