Brian Halligan (chief executive of HubSpot) in “The Corner Office”

HalliganAdam Bryant conducts interviews of senior-level executives that appear in his “Corner Office” column each week in the SundayBusiness section of The New York Times. Here are a few insights provided during an interview of Brian Halligan, the chief executive of HubSpot which makes software for marketers. He is a firm believer in the value of naps.

To read the complete interview as well as Bryant’s interviews of other executives, please click here.

Photo credit: Earl Wilson/The New York Times

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Bryant: Were you in entrepreneurial roles when you were younger?

Halligan: I had a painting company during college, but nothing particularly interesting.

Bryant: And after college?

Halligan: There was a guy in our neighborhood whose name was Richard Harrison, and he ended up in sales at a company called Parametric Technology in Boston. It was a really early start-up. He hired me out of college, and that turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. I joined when it was $3 million in revenue, and when I left 10 years later, it was $1 billion in revenue. It just took off, and that’s where a lot of my leadership lessons come from. After I was there for about a year and a half, they asked me out of the blue: “Would you move to Asia and start Asia for us?”

Bryant: And you were how old?

Halligan: About 25. I remember flying into Hong Kong, looking down at the city and thinking, “I don’t know a single person here.” I had to figure it out, and I just started doing whatever I thought made sense. I built a big business for them over there —– about $100 million, with 300 or 400 people. It grew really fast.

It was formative and influential for me in a couple ways. I have a lot of confidence in young people, and I have a lot of confidence in everyone’s ability to do more than they think they can do. I have very high expectations for people, and I push people to reach even higher.

I take these young kids at HubSpot and I give them huge responsibility. Sometimes they mess it up, but more often than not they get it right. I think, at least in the tech world, gray hair and experience are really overrated. I think my gray hair is overrated.

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Adam Bryant, deputy national editor of The New York Times, oversees coverage of education issues, military affairs, law, and works with reporters in many of the Times’ domestic bureaus. He also conducts interviews with CEOs and other leaders for Corner Office, a weekly feature in the SundayBusiness section and on nytimes.comthat he started in March 2009. In his book, The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed, (Times Books), he analyzes the broader lessons that emerge from his interviews with more than 70 leaders. To read an excerpt, please click here.

His next book, Quick and Nimble: Lessons from Leading CEOs on How to Create a Culture of Innovation, will also be published by Times Books (January 2014). To contact him, please click here.

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