THE BLOG

Diego Saez-Gil, CEO at Bluesmart, Talks About Building A 100 Year Business

06/22/2015 11:21 am ET | Updated Jun 22, 2016

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Fear is good. It’s a friend. It’s a primal emotion that is engineered to keep you safe. Unfortunately, fear has a dark side which also prevents you from pursuing your dream of…

  • writing that book
  • starting that business
  • traveling to that foreign country

Why, because fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that something is dangerous. So you live your life avoiding everything that appears to be dangerous. As a result, you have given into living an average life that is plagued with resentment.

But you don’t want to live an average life. You have a dream of living an extraordinary life. So how do you overcome those fears so you can start living a remarkable life? You don’t.

You don’t overcome your fears. Instead, you have to be more fearful of not living a remarkable life. You have to be horrified of what your life will be like if you never attempted to write that book or start that business or, travel to that foreign country.

This is, in part, what has driven Diego Saez-Gil to live out his life’s mission…

  • traveling throughout Europe
  • traveling to NYC
  • building 2 companies
  • creating the world’s first smart luggage

Saez-Gil did not allow fear to govern his life. He used it to become a world traveler and successful entrepreneur.

The Interview

How do you choose your team?
The most important criteria for me is shared values and belief in the mission that we are working towards. Of course skills and experience are important and I seek to work with very talented people. But I’ve learned over the years that talent and skills without passion and a sense of mission, are not enough to overcome the big obstacles that you face when you are building a new company or project.

Entrepreneurial Tip: While skills and talent are crucial attributes, they become worthless if the team-member no passion for the work.

What about co-founders? How do you know who will be a good partner?
I think for co-founders shared values and mission are even more important. Additionally, I look for partners who are honest, humble and ambitious. People with whom we can speak openly about everything, giving each other constant feedback, so that we can all grow, and pushing each other always to not settle, to go for more ambitious goals. I have been fortunate enough to find partners like that in my entrepreneurial journey.

Entrepreneurial Tip: co-Founders are the backbone of a successful business. More importantly, co-founders must drive the business forward through ambitious goal setting.

How do you design a company that will be around for 100 years?
I think it must start with a purpose, a mission. Then products can change, markets can change, industries can change. But if you have a larger purpose the company will be resilient to those changes and will adapt to continue fulfilling its purpose. Additionally you have to think long term on everything you do and build a culture of long term thinking. We live in a time in which this is rare, but it’s so important.

Entrepreneurial Tip: If you want to build a 100-year-old business, then focus on the long-term mission, not the product.

The execution of a creative idea can be a chaotic experience. So how do you organize, prioritize, and manage your creative ideas?
Yes, I think that a certain level of chaos is actually necessary in a creative process. That’s why I think startups have a better chance at creating new breakthrough products and technologies than larger companies. Still, you do need to be able to organize and prioritize your ideas as focus is key. We try to prioritize our ideas and projects based on whatever is better and more important for our customers, the travelers.

Entrepreneurial Tip: A little chaos injected into the creative process is healthy, but it must be tempered with organization and prioritization.

Can you tell me about a time when you almost gave up, how you felt about that, and what you did instead of giving up?
Once with one of my first entrepreneurial endeavors we were trying to raise investment and got rejected by every single investor we pitched. It was disheartening and it made me doubt what we were working on. I thought of quitting and maybe going back to look for a job or doing something else. But there was something inside of me telling me I shouldn’t quit. I realized that while the “what” we were doing could be off or improved, the “why” we were doing it was right and worth persisting for.

Entrepreneurial Tip: Failure is part of the entrepreneurial journey. This is why focusing on the mission is more important than the product.

What Are Your 3 Biggest Accomplishments?
I try to stay humble and not get too proud of past accomplishments. That being said, I feel proud of a few things:

  • Firstly, of moving to a new country where I didn’t know anybody and barely spoke the language and still “making my way”.
  • Second, I feel proud of building my first company which I started having no idea how to start a company and being able to make it arrive to a good port (it was acquired by StudentUniverse).
  • Finally, I feel proud of helping create the world’s first smart suitcase, which brings significant innovation to an important industry and will empower a lot of people to travel the world better.

Entrepreneurial Tip: If allowed fear will derail your dreams. So accept your fears, surround yourself with mentors and have a bias toward action.

Question: What’s your life’s mission and what’s keeping you from accomplishing it?