Veering Off Topic With OwnerIQ CEO Jay Habegger

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get off the plane, I get in the rental car, and man, I can see for miles. Here I feel like I’m closed in.

X: What’s your favorite quote?

JH: There’s a Theodore Roosevelt quote about the man in the arena.

[Editor’s note: Habegger didn’t have the whole thing memorized, but we’ve got him covered:]

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

That Theodore Roosevelt quote is one that I have really always thought about, especially being in a startup, because that is what that’s about. You have to come to be very comfortable with that, being the person in the arena. Especially at the early days of a startup, when a lot of people are telling you it won’t work, all your competitors are going to quash you, VCs are telling you 30,000 reasons why not only they aren’t going to give you money, but other VCs won’t either. And you make mistakes, but you’ve got to pick yourself up and go on.

X: What’s one skill your mom or dad taught you that you passed on to your children?

JH: It was this attitude that whatever you find in the world isn’t what it has to be—it’s somewhere in your power to do something about it. I don’t know if it’s a skill, but it’s certainly a worldview that I inherited from them, and my daughters have inherited that from me.

X: What was your most memorable vacation?

JH: I’m a big history buff. I like learning about history. I made it a habit to tie in a lot of the vacations that we do into historical events and try to give them to the girls in a way they find palatable and not being stuffed down their throats.

We went to France and northern Europe a couple years ago because it was the centenary of the First World War and I was appalled that my kids and their classmates knew almost nothing about this. I said we’re going to France and we’re going to spend four to five days in Paris, but the other five days we’re going to go and see some of the major battlefields of the First World War in France and in Belgium. They did that and had no idea, going over, what to expect. And they enjoyed it. The First World War is a complicated thing to … understand. But they certainly have a much better appreciation for it and the significance.

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