Will your DNA be the end of you?

“If we don’t upgrade our DNA, we’ll be done. We’ll be the next Blackberry or Nortel: a has been.”

That’s basically what Tobi Lutke, aka the CEO of Shopify, aka the keeper of the flame at one of Canada’s best startups, said to his team not that long ago, according to the report in today’s Globe and Mail.

But don’t take my word for it.

Here’s a little taste of the report and Tobi’s actual words:

“Tobi Lutke had run out of patience. As the chief executive of Shopify Inc. walked into his office on Aug. 12, 2015, he knew he had to drive home a message that his staff had been ignoring for too long, so he sat down to write something that would scare them.

‘There is no way to sugar coat it. Shopify doesn’t get mobile yet,’ he typed in a characteristically direct e-mail. ‘I’ve been doing a lot of pushing on mobile, but I just can’t seem to make enough of a difference due to the magnitude of the change needed.’

‘There is no way for me to overstate this. If we want to avoid being yet another BlackBerry/Nortel, we have to build mobile into our DNA.’ He sent the message to all employees at 11:16 a.m.

It’s hard to overstate the significance of that e-mail.

To outside observers the Ottawa software firm was a runaway success.. But Mr. Lutke was worried, with reason: The business of Shopify merchants was quickly shifting away from conventional computers. By early 2016, more than half of total order volume through Shopify merchants would come from smartphones…” (The story continues at http://www.theglobeandmail.com.)

Did Tobi get the attention of his team?


And all of us who are rooting for more folks to be like Shopify and Tobi are uber happy about it.


1. Leadership is always a speaking role.

Write that down someplace. Put it on a sticky note.

2. Folks can’t click on things they can’t see. :)

And right now, and for the foreseeable future, folks are glued to their phones.

3. Are you happy about the DNA of your new biz or startup?

If not, what are you doing about it? If not you, who? If not now, when?

Dec 3, 2016