Jeff Hoffman has launched eight successful technology companies, including three billion-dollar firms. His first big tech success came almost by accident.
One day while traveling, Hoffman found himself frustrated while waiting in a long line to get reticketed following a missed flight. When he got home, he was determined to create a solution to a problem he realized many other travelers also face. He began writing code for his vision for a self-service ticketing kiosk. Soon, he was working with airlines to connect his application with their platforms. Next, he found an investor to fund kiosk development. Eventually, Hoffman sold his travel technology company to American Express.
That early success, preceded by a few years spent writing code for the NASA space shuttle program, eventually set Hoffman on a path of helping create such sites as Priceline.com, Booking.com and uBid.com.
Along the way, he discovered the communication keys that can bridge the gap between developer and business executive, between software and solution. He also developed his approach to “servant leadership” that drives him today.
“Jeff Hoffman will discuss leadership from a career as a billion-dollar tech pioneer at The Leadership Lectures presented by the Center for Leadership at FIU. Hoffman will reveal how focusing on talent management, product operational efficiency, branding, and marketing helped turn "good ideas" into achievements of multi-billion companies.”
Hoffman learned early on to manage his developers to help drive their best performance. As a Yale-educated “software guy,” Hoffman was prone to getting involved in application development. One day when Hoffman was poking around the code-writing process, his top developer - a “rockstar,” he calls such talent - asked Hoffman to “please stop helping. Go figure out how to sell the product.”
The anecdote brought to light three realities. Hire the best, let them do their jobs, and make sure they never leave you.
“I achieved growth when I realized my job was not to tell other people what to do. It was to find the smartest people in every functional area - those rockstars - and just get out of their way,” said Hoffman, who today runs a strategic consulting firm that teaches growth and innovation strategies to entrepreneurs, business owners, corporations, and governments worldwide. His TV series, “Going Public,” allows viewers worldwide to invest in the startups he mentors on air.
“Real leaders don’t create followers, they create other leaders,” he said. “I realized right then that my job was to make sure that guy never leaves. He’s worked for me at four companies in a row. That’s servant leadership.”
Join the Center for Leadership at FIU at The Leadership Lectures featuring Jeff Hoffman on Thursday, October 12, from 9:30-10:30 a.m. (doors open at 9:00 a.m.). Reception, book signing and meet-and-greet to follow in the FIU Graham Center Ballrooms.
This event is presented in partnership with the FIU Foundation, the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, and StartUp FIU.
The Leadership Lectures feature world-class, accomplished, and influential leaders with expertise ranging from business and philanthropy to public service and academic research. Through the lectures, we hope to inspire thought-provoking dialogue within the community by providing access to the expertise, advice, and best practices of some of the world’s foremost leadership minds. Attendance to the lectures is free and open to the public.