Who: Gil Elbaz, cofounder and CIO of Oingo Inc.
Sign of the Times: "In a world where speed rules, it's all too easy for people to feel lost in the shuffle."
How do you create a company that's built to last when companies all around you are failing? For Gil Elbaz, 30, cofounder and CIO of Oingo, the answer lies beyond spreadsheets and P&L statements. While much of the tech sector is contracting, his company — a search-technology outfit based in Los Angeles — is growing. But he worries that fast growth can foster a narrow perspective, so he has incorporated works of philosophy into his diet of reading.
"Oingo has 32 employees, and no one has left the company in the two years since it was founded. Why do people stay? People here often refer to me as 'the rock' — as a role model. A big part of my job involves helping employees see that each of them is a crucial piece in a really large puzzle."
"Here's a simple way to figure out your purpose in the grand scheme of things: Read works by writers like Hermann Hesse, Carl Jung, and Bertrand Russell. I read business books and magazines, of course, but reading a little philosophy helps me home in on why our business truly matters."
A version of this article appeared in the May 2001 issue of Fast Company magazine.