Leading an organization can be hard. Deciding to step down from leading that organization can be even harder.
That’s the decision ClassPass founder and former CEO Payal Kadakia made just a few months ago.
“I think founders, as they go through their company, the founder/CEO role just fundamentally changes,” she explained in an interview with Business Insider US editor-in-chief Alyson Shontell on Business Insider’s podcast, “Success! How I Did It.“
Kadakia decided to hand the CEO baton to an early ClassPass investor, Fritz Lanman, and stay involved in the company in an executive chairman position. Ultimately, she said, the decision to move into a new role wasn’t as difficult as some people might expect.
“I’m a very creative person and I think about my product from that place of creativity and wanting to improve people’s lives. I went to MIT, I worked at Bain, but my magic is in my artist side and I kept feeling like I was pushing away from it. And that’s actually what built this company. Every single day, I was getting further and further away.
“You have to build a team to be able to go back to that, and that’s like one of my advisers always said, ‘Your freedom to create lies in people’ I looked around and I was like, ‘Who are the folks that I have around me?’ And Fritz and I have had such a great relationship and I trust him 100 percent. He knows exactly what I want to build. I don’t know if I would make the decision if it was anyone else and so it’s been great and he’s been such a great partner and I love what I’m doing now.”
Kadakia told Shontell that she believes the impact she has on people’s lives is more important than the title she holds. “The only thing and I thought a lot about this was: I want little girls to believe that they can be CEOs. The best thing I could do, though, is be an empowered female and authentically doing what I love. That’s the message I want to send,” she said.
“To me, I will be a stronger person if I’m moving forward, doing the work I want, and continue to drive force the purpose that I want to create versus doing what other people think I should be doing, which is never a way to live.”