How Do You Stay Sharp as a Leader?

Jeff Booth disrupted an industry that others said was impossible. What advice would he give a young entrepreneur who may be experiencing self-doubt?

This was one of the questions asked on a live Twitter chat hosted by YPO as it counts down to the annual YPO EDGE conference taking place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in 1-3 March 2017.

Booth, who is Co-founder, President and CEO of BuildDirect and a YPO member in British Columbia, joined the chat to share business and leadership insight from his inspiring career. He is speaking at YPO EDGE.

Drawing on his background as a builder, Booth co-founded BuildDirect in 1999 from his firsthand experience with the inefficiencies and high costs inherent in the home-improvement and building-supplies industry.

While most told him the industry was too large and too broken to fix, Booth only saw possibilities. He knew that by combining technology with his entrepreneurial spirit and vision, he could build a simpler and more trusted home-improvement industry. Ultimately, he opened a world of possibilities for homeowners, suppliers and those in trades and shipping.

With Booth at the helm, BuildDirect stands at the forefront of innovation in the home-improvement industry. Booth applies his deep knowledge of both technology and trends to invent new ways for people to explore, purchase, and ultimately interact and connect in the home-improvement space.

Search #YPOLeadership on Twitter to see the full discussion with @JeffBooth and @YPO.

*Editor’s note: Some of the responses have been edited for clarity and do not reflect Twitter’s 140-character limit.


You disrupted an industry that others said couldn’t be done. What would you tell a young entrepreneur who may be doubting him or herself?
Be resilient. We were knocked down many times, but always got up. You have to embrace obstacles to learn and move forward.

What is your top strategy for continuing to identify ways to innovate and disrupt?
Entrepreneurs don’t disrupt – they create. The focus should be on designing a better solution.

Your business survived the dot-bomb, housing crisis and recession. How do you motivate yourself in tough times?
It’s hard sometimes, but you need to remember why you do what you do. It’s the true test to see how badly you want it.


You wrote leaders should be “arrogant to launch and humble to last.” What does it mean to be a humble leader?
It’s about strong ideas, weakly held. You need to have the strength of your convictions to make decisions quickly… and humility to see where you have made mistakes and how you can learn from them.

You have written about work-life balance. What is the first step a leader should take to reset that balance?
Look at your calendar and see how much time you’re spending in different areas of your life. Your time reflects what is important to you – your calendar doesn’t lie.

Last year, you announced unlimited paid time off for the BuildDirect team. What impact has that had?
More employees are taking the minimum required vacation! Productivity has grown and the increased flexibility has been empowering.

You have a supremely empowered team. Is there a secret to being a likeable yet effective leader?
Be vulnerable. When you open up to people, they behave more dependably and put more faith in you in return. Also, trust first – most people will surprise you. It deepens and strengthens relationships faster.


You are a YPO EDGE speaker next month and the theme is “Sharpen Your Edge.” How do you stay sharp as a business leader?
Have a curious mind and learn as much as you can. An informed perspective will keep you at the forefront of your field.

What is one message or lesson you hope other leaders take away from your leadership journey?
Be authentic and be yourself. You can be successful and build a great company while still holding true to your values.

More than 2,500 CEOs are attending YPO EDGE in Vancouver. What should they know about Silicon Valley of the North?
British Columbia is filled with opportunity for the tech world. I’ve been lucky to work with some of the best minds in the industry. It is important we continue this trend by paying it forward to the next generation of entrepreneurs.


YPO is the global leadership community of more than 29,000 chief executives in 130 countries who are driven by the belief that the world needs better leaders. Each of our members have achieved significant leadership success at a young age. Combined, they lead businesses and organizations contributing USD9 trillion in annual revenue. YPO members become better leaders and better people through peer learning and exceptional experiences in an inclusive community of open sharing and trust.