The CEO of a billion dollar company explains how being naive helped him succeed


ragy thomas

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Ragy Thomas, CEO of Sprinklr, says the naïveté he developed as a child has helped him in his professional life.

You've probably heard that being naïve can lead to destruction. But as it turns out, it can also help you achieve success.


Ragy Thomas, the CEO Sprinklr, a company that helps brands like McDonald's and Virgin manage their social media presence, told Adam Bryant of the New York Times in a recent interview that attending a Catholic boarding school "in the middle of nowhere" as a kid taught him about life, made him "deeply spiritual," and "also made me extremely naïve about what life can be."

Later, when Thomas started college, he said most of his peers began to recognize that there's a "certain phoniness in life" and therefore wouldn't let many people into their trust circles; they'd lie; and they would mostly look out for themselves, he explains.

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But many of those things were lost on Thomas, he said - which allowed him to naïvely trust people. "I just believe that there is goodness everywhere, and I still go through life that way."

He continued: "It is a strength because statistically, when you act that way with 100 people, you might get beaten up 80 times because of it. But then there will be some people who respond because you believed in them, and they start doing things that they didn't think they were capable of doing. And those people just come through for you in a big way, and allow you to do big things. By embracing this approach and taking a statistical view of it, you always come out ahead," he told Bryant.


However, with a company valued at more than $1 billion as of last March, Thomas does admit to Bryant that some people try to take advantage of him financially. So he now enforces an important rule: You can fool him once, "but once I've lost my trust in you, I very quickly keep that person out of my inner circle - in fact, out of my circle, period," he explained.

"Over time, I have built enough of a reputation that people know that trying to appeal to my nobler sense will yield way more for them than they can ever negotiate," he said.

Read the full New York Times interview here.

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