Intuit focuses on delighting customers and changing people’s financial lives. They have a history of spotting a need, let’s say the need for a better way to pay bills before online banking existed, and then solving the problem with technology. This philosophy drives Scott Cook, the founder and Chairman of Intuit, to continue growing and evolving the business.

Before the internet (yes, there was such a time, although it’s hard to imagine), Cook pioneered the company with four stalwart colleagues. Their dedication resulted in a thriving American software company that develops financial and tax preparation software and services for small businesses, accountants and individuals.

Intuit remains relevant after 25 years and a sea change in business and technical environments. To learn more, Jason Nazar, Co-Founder and CEO of Docstoc (acquired by Intuit), sat down to a Fireside Chat with Scott Cook. Here are a few of the pearls of wisdom from their conversation.

On learning from the customer: Learn the customer’s pain points by observing them, not by surveying them. Trust their behavior over what they say.

On corporate culture: For good or bad, companies grow by what leaders do. Not what they say.

On lessons learned: If he knew then what he knows now, he would hire an executive coach. Everyone needs a coach, especially leaders. Changing habits is hard.

On how to help the customer: Customers give us their money, and they pay our salaries. What’s the biggest change you can make in their lives? Help them be better at what it is they are trying to do.

On developing staff: Offer constructive feedback in small bites. Make it immediate and regular. People want the honest truth.

On failure: What was the outcome you were aiming for? How did your results compare? What did you learn? What 3 things could I have done better (make sure everyone answers this)? Get concerns on the table to address their root cause.

On Intuit in 10 years: Intuit will be similar, but on steroids. It will be a network of small startup teams running multiple, independent sprints.

On exciting developments in tech: The ability to stand on the shoulders of giants. The speed of development continues to increase due to the contributions of others. This is the essence of the share economy, which represents the future of collaboration and creation.

On conveying the mission: Creative people need to experience the customer’s need at a gut level, see it with their own eyes and feel their pain. In this way, people come to understand the company’s mission.

On integrity: Integrity is job No. 1. It’s very important whose advice you listen to. Connect and consult with the best experts in your field. Find out who they are, what they do and spend time with them. 

Article by Karen Keating.