THE UPS AND DOWNS WITH THE FOUNDER OF LIFELOCK
I recently had the opportunity to interview Robert Maynard. While he may not be a household name, the company he founded in 2005 certainly is. Robert co-founded LifeLock with Todd Davis. He left the company two years later, and in 2012, LifeLock went public. In 2017, Symantec acquired LifeLock for a cool $2.3 billion.
LifeLock is one of the many ventures Robert has founded. He currently runs a company called SurchX. Here is Robert’s official bio:
Robert is a father, grandfather, serial entrepreneur, and lives with Bipolar Disorder. His business successes include LifeLock, DotSafe, Internet America and his most recent, SurchX. Over his career, Robert’s companies have returned nearly $7 billion worth of capital value to their investors, created more than 2,000 jobs and sold more than $10 billion worth of goods and services to American consumers and businesses. Two of his companies have gone public and been listed among the Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Companies. Robert served as an enlisted Marine where he was as a combat engineer. He describes his duties as “building some things and blowing others up.” He also served as a commissioned officer in the Army, ending his career as a team leader in the 12th Special Forces Group. He graduated in 1987 from Northern Arizona University with a BSBA in Finance. He received many honors and awards including the 1986 nomination as Truman Scholar, Wall Street Journal Award and Distinguished Military Graduate, among others.
What was more interesting to me, though, than any of Robert’s entrepreneurial endeavors was his extraordinary journey in aggregate, consisting of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. On the one hand, he founded a company that ultimately went public and was acquired for $2.3 billion. On the other hand, he spent time in jail.
I asked Robert about his ups and downs in a wide-ranging interview. Here are some of the highlights from the personal side of Robert’s journey, including what he has learned along the way and what we can take away from his experiences:
Adam: At what point did you figure out you had bipolar disorder? How have you learned how to manage it? What advice do you have for others who are bipolar?
Robert: I was originally diagnosed with Major Depression, which was why I underwent ECT. It was the side effects of the electroshock treatment – mainly the mania – that led doctors to my Bipolar diagnosis. I was 40 years old. The most important thing people need to know is that this is a deadly, tragic illness with a mortality higher than many cancers. It is not a personality defect. My advice? Get the best treatment possible, and don’t stop until you are stabilized.
Adam: How did you wind up in jail? Can you describe your experience there? What did you do to stay mentally strong and ultimately bounce back?
Robert: That happened during a mania, while I was undergoing ECT (electroshock therapy). One of the primary side effects of ECT is something called retrograde amnesia – basically short-term memory loss of events leading up to and during treatment. I went to Las Vegas and took out a marker from the Mirage and I did not pay it back. Because I was in treatment at the time, I have no memory of this episode. When I was arrested, I thought my identity had been stolen, which had happened to me before. I am now convinced that I did it. I paid the marker and all charges were dropped.
Adam: You have experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows. What advice do you have on managing both?
Robert: The lows were physically painful and were very tough to manage. Until recently, I’d just vanish during depressive episodes. I couldn’t get out of bed which made me pretty undependable. The highs were great – until I ran out of money. I didn’t manage either of them terribly well. But I guess I am resilient, because a constellation of miracles has given me another chance.
Adam: LifeLock has had its fair share of ups and downs as well. What is the best lesson you learned from your LifeLock experience?
Robert: Do the right thing, no matter how hard it is.
Adam: How are you doing now?
Robert: Well, I was told by two doctors that I would never work again – and here I am. I have been diagnosed, treated, and stabilized and I’ve got a new startup. However, you never overcome mental illness, you just manage it and live with it. I know there are some things I can no longer do, like deprive myself of sleep or go off my meds. I have learned humility through my illness.
We also spoke about business and leadership. Here are a few excerpts:
Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader?
Robert: Creating and growing more leaders. Hire the right people, enable them to lead, and then get out of the way. You can’t grow a fault-tolerant, resilient company without creating leaders from the people you have hired.
Adam: How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?
Robert: Study. Leadership is a skill and it must be learned, practiced, and honed. Humble yourself. It is the humble leader who is effective.
Adam: What is your best advice on building, managing and leading teams?
Robert: Systems are managed. People are led. This is my core leadership approach, which comes from the Marines and the Army, where I spent time in Special Forces. I work hard to earn my leadership every day, because I know that employees who are managed go home at 5:00, but teams that are led break down all barriers.
Adam: What are your three best tips applicable to entrepreneurs, executives and civic leaders?
Robert: Don’t ask for anything you’re not willing to give. Commit to rigorous honesty at all times. The more people you lead, the more you serve.
In light of Robert’s journey, his answer to my last question makes a lot sense (not cents):
Adam: What is one thing everyone should be doing to pay it forward?
Robert: Keep in mind there is a larger purpose for your life than making people money. Find, pursue, and defend that purpose.
Check out the full interview at in Lessons In Leadership series on Thrive Global at https://thriveglobal.com/stories/tips-from-the-top-one-on-one-with-robert-maynard