Sam Parks on Leading Geniuses

When he was in grad school, Sam Parks marveled at all of the energy conservation advancement being made in the academic world. But he quickly grew frustrated about how those were effectively communicated or translated to industry. 

He sought to change that, but wasn’t sure how. 

One day, he was microwaving Hot Pockets in his dorm room, and an idea struck him: what if there was a simple way to track how much energy that microwave was using?

Providing Value

Fast forward a few years, and he co-founded Sapient Industries, a wildly successful company focused around solving the problem of “vampire currents,” or the energy that appliances and electronics use just by being plugged into the wall.

Their solution was a simple wall plug in, sandwiched between the outlet and our device, that collects data about how much energy is being used. 

As their client list grew, they unearthed troves of data they harnessed to do everything from predicting infrastructural and equipment needs to cutting back on energy waste. Along the way, they’ve provided immense value to their users. One client even saved the cost of building a new $50 million facility because of Sapient Industries’ help.  


Outsourcing is Key!

As a young CEO entering the business world fresh from academia, Sam’s gained some pretty valuable leadership lessons. One of the key ones: outsource!

“We hire the experts to tell us what to do, not to tell them what to do,” Sam said. 

He’s obsessive about finding the best experts to advise on different topics, instead of looking for one mentor for everything involved in his business. 

“No one is an authority on all topics,” he said. “That feels very uncomfortable at first, because you want to just find that one sort of golden egg reference to be the authority on all the things you need to build and run your business. I’ve found that golden egg doesn’t exist.”


A Supportive Workspace

“If work is not a source of stability, and a sort of constructive influence on a person’s life, then it’s really not a place you want to be. Because you spend most of your life at work,” Sam said. 

Sapient’s company culture reflects this. Their goal is to support employees so they can enjoy their jobs and do their best work. Parks get coffee with everyone in the company at least once a week to ask them about where the company can improve. 

If he had to leave one lesson for anyone who wants to be successful? 

“Become very comfortable and excited in searching for answers constantly.” In his company, they call it “do the math,” prompting employees to go out, find the answer themselves, question everything until they come to a solid conclusion. 


Book recommendation: Walter Isaacson’s Book on Einstein

Connect with Sam: 

Sapient Industries:

Sapient twitter:


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