I’ve always believed that you should follow your passion and give everything in pursuing work you love. If you can do that, the rest of life — success, accolades, titles — will work themselves out. After turning over the CEO reigns last quarter and now serving as the wise old Chairman, I reflect on my journey and one thing is abundantly clear is that the happiness in my life, and my ability to have the energy and foundation to go out each day and succeed in these pursuits, is because of the love and support of those around me — my family, my friends, and most importantly, my wife, Metta. So, while receiving a celebratory gift on stage at DocuSign’s annual Sales Kick Off was a surprise to me, thanking Metta from stage as a huge part of my success was a surprise to none.
It may sound trite to say you owe so much to your wife, but those who know my wife understand. At DocuSign, Metta needs no last name — people love her and consider her their friend. She is the consummate first lady and has always been an unofficial sales team member (she can give a DocuSign demo and elevator pitch with the best of them). She is the one who encouraged me to take on the CEO role at DocuSign seven years ago. From that stage, I recounted our conversation and her words of encouragement years back.
I had come home from a DocuSign board meeting and shared with her that I had been asked to take on the CEO role. I was on the fence about going back to being a CEO. The first time I did it, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into and I went mach 3 with my hair on fire, never looking back or slowing down. I tried to explain to her what I knew now as a battle-tested old CEO: the journey would be full of exhilarating highs, epic lows that are inherent with the risk, the intense pressure of putting yourself on the line every minute of every day, knowing you have so many people counting on you to get it just right, while pushing yourself and your team to grow exponentially and move at the speed of light. This time I knew the marathon I was signing up for and, in truth, I was looking for her to talk me out of it. I told her about the long 24 x 7 hours it would require, the focus and dedication, the possibility of being in the fetal position under my desk with the weight of the responsibility if things were to go wrong.
She stopped me mid-sentence and said, “I believe in you. Every time you go to a DocuSign board meeting, you come home happy and ecstatic about the immense opportunity. I have seen father Keith, husband Keith, Purdue Keith, Sigma Chi Keith and Chairman Keith. But I have never had a chance to see CEO Keith, and I don’t think I will truly get you unless I see that side. You always advise young entrepreneurs to ‘jump in water over their head’ and grasp for the ‘scary fun’ opportunities in life. I say take your own advice and go for it!”
And she was right. Being CEO of DocuSign was one of my favorite times in my life. Our amazing team, world-class partners, the biggest market I have ever witnessed in my career and a product I absolutely believe in. In retrospect, the stars aligned for DocuSign’s ascendancy and at home I had my own shining star who allowed me to dedicate myself completely without guilt. Truly my partner on the business stage and the home front. I knew Metta would absolutely be the best, and you know what, she absolutely has been. She organized my first employee meeting, she always throws the DocuFamily company picnics at our Beach Shack, she hosted countless customer gatherings at our home, entertained dozens of DocuSign Advisory Board members joined me on countless trips around the world, attended every All Hand Meetings except one, she never missed a holiday party, and in fact, was always the last one to leave. Metta spread the DocuLove wherever she went. She turned DocuSign into our extended DocuFamily. Perhaps, most importantly is how Metta shaped the way our 5 kids view my work. They never viewed my job as time away from them, or choosing business over our family, but as something they can be proud of. As she explains to our 5 year-old twins “Daddy is working late because he is helping to give people jobs”. For that, I get hugs and smiles of pride when I come home from working late nights, and that gives me the heart to put my foot on the gas.
It has been an incredible ride at DocuSign for the last 8 years as Chairman and CEO, and now again as Chairman supporting CEO Dan Springer in leading the company into the future. And I have Metta to thank. So from that stage, that’s exactly what I did.
As I went on stage, I was humbled when Neil surprised me with a hearty thank you and a plaque that read, “Great Leader, Great Dad and Great Colleague. With Great Appreciation, DocuSign.” When it was handed to me, I half-jokingly said that Metta would be sleeping with it under our pillow tonight knowing how much DocuSign and our DocuFamily means to us both. So I accepted the plaque, on Metta’s behalf, for her devotion to and love for this amazing company because I certainly couldn’t have been successful without her by my side every step of the way.
While on stage, I also took the opportunity to thank my three chiefs without whom I couldn’t have survived the day-to-day. First, my friend and former chief of staff Michael Arrieta, now a VP in our Sales organization. Second, Hiro Rodriguez, who has been an outstanding chief, liaising between me, our customers, and our incredible Sales team. And third, Mike Cipolla, my most recent chief of staff and the greatest gift I could have given to Dan in his role as our new CEO. I also took the opportunity to thank Daniela Bin , my assistant for nearly 20 years. Her commitment, dedication, passion and grace are the foundation of great relationships, and more importantly great friendships.
At DocuSign, we know that it is a team sport and we could never achieve our success without the devotion and support of our loved ones. Which brings me back to Metta who not only inspires me to follow my passions but is my business partner and my best friend in the deepest sense of the word. She always exemplifies the principals of what it sincerely means to be a member of the DocuFamily. This is why I get goose pumps every time I hear her affectionately referred to as the First Lady of DocuSign.