Being a fish out of water drove Gurbaksh ‘G’ Chahal to make his own ocean. By the age of 26, he had built and sold two internet ad companies for a total of $340 million. G’s own ravenous appetite for success set him on the path, but hiring people as hungry as himself has kept his companies great.
What’s the Big Idea?
Gurbaksh Chahal, also known as ‘G’, was a multimillionaire by the age of 18. Yet he won’t hire anyone whose dream is to make money. To innovate and win, G says, a business needs a team of “rock stars” at every level––ambitious creatives hungry for success.
Chahal knows all about hunger. As a three year old, he emigrated with his family from Punjab, India to San Jose, California. His family of seven shared a one-room apartment. As the only kid in school wearing a turban, G faced constant verbal and physical abuse. “It made me realize,” he says, “that it’s a cruel world out there and you’ve got to make the best of it. You’ve got to get out there and do it for yourself.”
Wearing his outsider status as a license to take bold risks, Chahal set off in pursuit of his dream––total self-reliance. At the age of 16 he dropped out of high school to start his first online advertising company, Click Agents. Two years later, he sold the company for $40 million. His next venture, BlueLithium, sold to Yahoo for $300 million. By the age of 26, Chahal had achieved success beyond most entrepreneurs’ lifetime goals.
The addiction to success––something all his employees share––still drives Chahal “to do it bigger and better.” His new business, RadiumOne, is ushering in a new era of internet advertising by learning who your friends are and what they like. Using data from a wide array of social networks, RadiumOne can almost guarantee that you’ll want what its clients are selling.
What’s the Significance?
Nations, movements, and businesses fall when their leaders surround themselves with “yes men” for fear of being second-guessed. They become inflexible and are destroyed by internal and external forces to which they cannot adapt.
Wise leaders like Chahal create strong, adaptable organizations by hiring––and relying upon––driven entrepreneurs who share the core vision but have vivid dreams of their own. Given free reign to implement their ideas, these teammates will continually reinvent the organization, keeping it vital without losing its soul.