Maurice Harary is the Co-Founder & CEO of The Bid Lab and understands the role that self belief has played in their business journey so far. They took some time out to speak with The Industry Leaders about this powerful state of mind.
Firstly, can you give us a little bit of background about your business journey?
Back in 2017, my wife and Co-founder, Jordan, was climbing the ladder in the automotive industry while I was working at IHS Markit. Jordan was tasked with completing an RFP for her business and hired an outside consultant for assistance. When we saw the final work product, we were shocked by the subpar quality that seemed to be accepted by the industry at large. The formatting was off, the writing was shoddy and the information was not even compliant. She called me and we worked through the night putting together a proposal she could stand behind. It was then that we realized combining her writing talent with my RFP knowledge was a winning formula for success. Since then, we’ve created the world’s leading RFP company, had two daughters, and recently launched our own RFP search engine, Bid Banana.
What role has self-belief played in your journey as a business leader? How has it influenced your decision-making and overall success?
I, too, used to go into a 52-story skyscraper in New York City in a full suit every day. But, when I founded The Bid Lab, I remembered that the people I worked most closely with on my previous team worked out of the UK and India. Why couldn’t I work closely with people who weren’t located geographically nearby to me? The Bid Lab is, and always has been a remote company. While there are myriad reasons why remote work is worth championing (environmental impact, productivity, work/life balance, etc.) one of the reasons why I think it works best for The Bid Lab is because it allows us to hire from a unique pool of individuals. I’m looking at you, an amazing writer, living 3 hours outside of Albuquerque who needs to be available to her elderly mother in the afternoons. And I’m also looking at you, a sales superstar who wants to homeschool her kids but can also sell ice to an Eskimo. I’m proud of the fact that The Bid Lab is made up of a team of individuals who have individual needs but also a common ability to log into work wherever they may be.
Can you share a specific moment or challenge in your journey where your self-belief was tested? How did you overcome it and what did you learn from that experience?
Hands down the most difficult time we faced when starting The Bid Lab was when my oldest daughter was born extremely premature just as our business was exploding with new clients and revenue. The fear and the stress surrounding all of that is just impossible to describe. Fortunately, I was smart enough to choose a wonderful partner in life and start a business with her. My wife and I really leaned on each other to succeed as both parents and business founders. I am proud to say that both my daughter and The Bid Lab are healthy and thriving today!
How do you cultivate and maintain a mindset of self-belief amidst the inevitable ups and downs of life?
You really do have to schedule self-care the same way you would a business meeting. Put that time to work out on the calendar and treat it like an important meeting with your health. It can’t be canceled; it has to be given attention. Self-care has to be a priority. It’s just like if you want to help someone in a plane crash you have to put on your mask first. Schedule and prioritize time to care for yourself if you want to be able to care for the people and things that matter to you.
Are there any specific strategies or practices you follow to boost your self-confidence when facing uncertainties or setbacks in your business?
First and foremost, being your authentic self and being open to vulnerability saves you so much of the energy you would waste pretending to be someone other than yourself. Second, there is no way to succeed without risk and you’ll never take a risk if you aren’t willing to be vulnerable. Opening yourself up to the potential to fail is the first step to success.
Third, being open and vulnerable allows you to create a team of support. I work with businesses every day who have had the vulnerability to come to me and say “I need help.” That first step in seeking outside support is what often leads to them winning big and growing their business more than they had ever thought possible.
Fourth, it’s fun. I’m not kidding. We launched our new project, Bid Banana, an RFP search engine when we had a newborn, and raising those two together has been a blast!
Finally, when you are truly honest with yourself and who you are it opens you up to a world of fulfillment. There is no way to find out what you really want if you can’t start by being honest with yourself first and then being brave enough to go after it.
How do you handle self-doubt or negative self-talk that may arise as a business leader? Do you have any specific techniques for reframing negative thoughts?
Fear is the number one aspect that holds people back from being authentic and vulnerable. And for good reason. Being vulnerable and authentic takes work and it is scary. It’s been said many times because it is so very true, you can’t let fear win. Often, we are afraid to be who we are in the world because we fear rejection, but it’s far better to be rejected for yourself than for someone you’re pretending to be. And every failure, every rejection just gets you one step closer to success.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who struggle with self-belief? How can they start building a stronger sense of confidence and belief in themselves?
I would strongly advise colleagues to hire people to do the aspects of the job that burn you out. That means something different to each person reading this, but for me, that meant hiring an accountant. This was by far my least favorite part of the job! Knowing you have quality people handling the aspects of the job that don’t excite you, frees you up to focus on the aspects of the job that you truly enjoy and helps maintain a sense of fulfillment and excitement about what you do.
Have you ever encountered external skepticism or negativity regarding your business ideas or decisions? How do you stay grounded in your self-belief despite external influences?
I could tell you more than a few! But I’ll keep it brief. Simply put when we don’t take care of ourselves, especially as parents and leaders, everything else falls apart. When you are running on empty you are more likely to get sick, make poor decisions, and lose your temper with people you shouldn’t. You can’t give from an empty cup. If you want to sustain the people you care about, you have to start with yourself.
Are there any books, podcasts, or people you'd recommend checking out for anyone who wants to change to a more self-confident and belief-rich mindset?
I was greatly impacted by the book The Go-Giver by Bob Burg. That book specifically focuses on taking the attention off of getting and redirecting your intention to giving. It’s a powerful foundational shift.
Finally, what are some practical tips or exercises you can recommend for entrepreneurs to strengthen their self-belief and mindset on a regular basis?
1. Prioritize good sleep. Get on a consistent, restful schedule and stick to it. A solid night’s sleep allows you to tackle big decisions the next day and is a huge predictor of mood. Everyone is more irritable when they aren’t sleeping well. Getting into a good routine to create a restful night’s sleep is one of the best things you can do to fuel your mental health. 2. Don’t skip the workout! It’s so easy to let working out fall off of your to-do list but physical health is vital to mental health. Schedule time in your day to work out so you feel your best. It’s proven that working out has serious mental health benefits and even though it can be the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling down or stressing out, just moving your body is a great way to get out of your head and give yourself a mental break while boosting endorphins. 3. Socialize. It’s important to maintain friendships and focus on relationships outside of work. Good friends are so sustaining. Starting a company is very lonely in the beginning, even if you are constantly pitching potential clients and working with vendors. You lose out on that built-in cohort of people in a traditional work environment that you see day-to-day and makes the work easier. Working alone means you are constantly needing to seek out socialization, which can be challenging especially when you’re working day and night to get your business off the ground. I recommend taking time to network with old college friends or co-workers. There needs to be a time for you to socialize without discussing work. Just like you schedule a meeting, schedule time to grab dinner with your best friend or have a date night with your spouse. This should happen regularly, not once in a while, and will make a world of difference in your mental health. Starting a business allows you to manage your own schedule, so use it accordingly to make plans that work for you! 4. Surround yourself with loved ones. It’s impossible to be successful without support. Know who is in your corner and don’t be afraid to reach out when you need help. Whether it’s business advice or just a kind ear after a long day, you need to feel supported to have the energy to keep pushing and create your business. 5. Write it out. I know it can sound silly but writing out your mental health struggles and frustrations can really help. It’s like a release valve for stress. Give yourself ten minutes to write out everything that you’re struggling with mentally and really give yourself a chance to feel it. When you’re done, you still might not have all the answers, but just the act of writing out your thoughts and feelings can help connect you to solutions or at the very least make you feel a little less stressed out.