by Mike Duffield, Alchemy Co-Founder and CEO
When Jim, Bill, and I founded Alchemy, we all brought “lessons learned” to the company. Jim and I have worked together for 20+ years in technology, and Bill rounds out our team with new perspectives on professionalism, leadership, and teamwork.
We all have ties to Workday (and Jim and I, PeopleSoft), so our playbook is obviously filled with lessons about building great companies, being true to employees and customers, establishing core values, and creating a fun place to work—all hallmarks of Dave Duffield companies. (Full disclosure: Dave and I are closely related.)
As I thought about all the lessons Dave has taught me, it became clear that my personal guiding principles are also framed by examples from other family members—my Uncle Al, my mom Ella Brovitz, and my older sisters Amy and Laurie. I’d like to recognize some of those principles as they are present in Alchemy, our core values, and the way we relate to each other, customers, and business partners.
Dave Duffield: It’s not easy to isolate THE Dave Duffield lesson that leaves the biggest impression with a person. Living by core values is obvious—anyone who has worked at PeopleSoft in the Dave era or Workday knows the effects of a strong core values system. Here’s a lesson from Dave that is obvious but something that doesn’t always come to mind: Be bold. Tackle a real business problem, and expect it to be challenging. If it was easy, everyone would do it. As a serial entrepreneur, Dave has never flinched from taking intentional risks to start companies that solve big issues for its customers. It’s second nature to him, and he just does it.
Al Duffield: My Uncle Al, Dave’s brother and one of the best sales executives on the planet, led Worldwide Sales at PeopleSoft for many years. He is a great role model and the most candid person I’ve ever met. I’ve worked with only a handful of people who share his laser focus on professionalism and preparedness. Al has an inherent instinct for developing company growth strategies that clearly outline what you are going to do—and, equally important, what you are NOT going to do. He does not take shortcuts and has the discipline to pass on opportunities if they are not aligned to the company’s strategic goals.
Ella Brovitz: In true mom style, Ella instilled encouragement, self-awareness, and affection in my sisters and me. The intangibles she taught us show up in spades when relating to my own kids Ian and Hannah, my wife Kristine, teammates (Alchemists), customers, and business partners. Ella always supported our “creative” ideas and encouraged us to own and be proud of them. Be resourceful, trust your instincts, ask for help when you need it, and be empathetic and sincerely care about others. Thanks, Mom, for these invaluable reminders.
Amy Zeifang: I’ve had the great fortune of working with my oldest sister Amy, an advertising and marketing pro, at PeopleSoft, Workday, Alchemy, and on the Board of Maddie’s Fund (the Duffield Family Foundation). Amy always keeps an open mind and unselfishly considers all viewpoints before making a decision. She knows that good ideas can come from anyone—if you are receptive to hearing them—and that no one person corners the market on intelligence. She explores and probes until a good solution resonates, and she doesn’t settle for mediocrity—in a thoughtful, systematic, and generous way.
Laurie Peek: My older sister Laurie is an extremely talented artist, multi-state certified veterinarian, and the most creative person I have ever met. I’m proud to work with Laurie on the Board (with Amy) at Maddie’s Fund. Laurie has always shown an unconditional understanding of animals, and growing up, our house was filled with any number of birds, dogs, cats, rodents, and reptiles. She’s deeply passionate about animal welfare issues and has earned multiple medical and animal-related degrees from both The Ohio State University and Cornell University. Her all-in commitment and empathy toward any relationship—personal or animal—makes her a true friend.
Of course, Dave’s history has had a deep impact on my career and now, Alchemy’s trajectory. But how lucky am I to add my entire family’s wisdom and fearlessness to that equation? I am grateful to each of you, and I’m honored to carry on these family standards.