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Adopt ‘of course, but maybe’ mantra

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in Centerpiece,Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

But maybeRelying on what has worked in the past does not guarantee a better future. Sometimes, you need to buck conventional wisdom and start anew.

Apoorva Mehta, 30, founded Instacart in 2012. The online grocery delivery company is now worth $3.4 billion.

In addition to Instacart, Mehta has launched 20 mobile apps and other startups. He credits his success with his willingness to ignore precedent and break paradigms.

Not conforming to tradition—or the limits of any existing technology—helps him innovate. He studies successful systems, but he will reject them and build new ones if he thinks he has a better idea.

To unleash creativity in himself and his employees, he favors a four-word mantra: Of course, but maybe.

For Mehta, this translates to, “Of course that’s one way to do it, but maybe we could try it another way.”

“It sort of emphasizes the fact that of course this is the way things have been done before, but maybe if you use new technologies or look at the problem in a different way, you can come up with a solution that’s much, much better,” he says.

Thanks to his stint working as a supply chain engineer at Amazon, Mehta observed Jeff Bezos up close. He learned that effective leadership involves freeing employees to approach problems in new ways, rather than blocking their vision by forcing them to accept certain assumptions.

“For the company to be the best version of you,” he told Fortune, “you have to make sure you are really honing into your strengths and making sure you complement that by hiring some amazing people who can be better than you at your weaknesses.”

— Adapted from “30-year-old CEO of a $3 billion company shares leadership lessons from Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs,” Emmie Martin, www.cnbc.com.

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