Stay humble.

By Filippo Conforti on February 06, 2024

Few years ago, I had the chance to meet John Collison, co-founder of Stripe. Our Series A round led by Benchmark had just been announced and John wanted to know more. He wanted to know why such a legendary VC firm would invest in a small Italian company called "Commerce Layer". So he contacted me.

It made me rub my eyes a couple of times when I saw his email. My first thought was it was a fake message but then I realized it was actually him asking for a Zoom meeting. I shared my Calendly with him and after hitting send, I thought: I can't believe I did it. I asked John Collison to pick a time from my calendar! What's your brain telling you, Filippo? Y'all, he's John Collison! Just tell him your availability and his assistant will handle it! But he just did it, he booked a time from my calendar, responding that he was looking forward to connecting.

The pandemic was going on at the time, so he took the call from his bedroom. He was intrigued by our approach to commerce, so he asked a lot of questions. I asked him a lot of questions too. I couldn't pass up the chance to pick his brain. He made me feel like we were talking among friends. I'll never forget that chat.

A year later, I was at an event in Montecito, California, hosted by Coatue, our Series B investors. Definitely the best event I've ever been to. Let's say that's the kind of situation that doesn't help if you're suffering from imposter syndrome.

Among others, I met Patrick, John’s brother. This time in person. We had a few drinks, discussing the future of commerce and other unrelated topics. There were so many things I was eager to ask him, but the conversation shifted when he asked, “Hey Filippo, how do you think Stripe can be improved? ”.

Wait a minute, Patrick Collison just asked me how to improve Stripe? This is what he did. He asked me for my feedback, my thoughts, and how they could improve their product and APIs. His attention was focused on finding the smallest hint from my thoughts that might trigger a new idea or spot a weakness he wasn't already aware of.

Back then, I thought it was amazing that the founders of one of the most iconic tech companies were so eager to learn, improve, and iterate. During those two conversations, I realized John and Patrick were being sincere when they said Stripe wasn't done yet, and they're still on their journey. Later on, I realized they're not alone.

The best entrepreneurs, visionaries, investors—just the best people—I've met in my life are also the most curious. They've taught me you're never done learning. Anyone can teach you something, no matter what. Be open to feedback. Don't be too proud of what you've done. Look for ways to do more instead. You can learn a lot from your customers, colleagues, partners, and even competitors.

Stay humble. Eventually, incredible things will happen.

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