In the heart of the meatpacking district, on the 6th floor of the swanky New York Soho House, I met with founder and CEO Cyrus Massoumi from ZocDoc, a free to use marketplace that makes instantly booking an appointment online with a nearby health practitioner who accepts your insurance as easy as snapping your fingers. Today, more than 4 million patients use ZocDoc monthly and the company’s service covers 40% of the U.S population across 1,900 cities. The fact that ZocDoc has over $95 million in funding from some of the top startup investors such as Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, Khosla Ventures, Ron Conway, Marc Benioff, Goldman Sachs, and Founders Fund, proves that they are truly disrupting the way in which people find and book health appointments.

Massoumi was able to overcome the two hardest things that are required to create a successful company: 

1. Building something that people want to use, 

2. Fundraising. 

Currently leading around 500 employees, Massoumi attributes most of ZocDoc’s success to the company culture he and his co-founders established from day one. A number of premier media sources like Crain’s and Fortune have named ZocDoc The Best Place to Work for multiple years. With unlimited vacation, open door policies and catered lunches everyday, it’s easy to see why the company would be nominated time and time again.

The CEO of a company often single-handedly has the largest role in setting the tone for the office environment. Employees should be inspired by the CEO and motivated to work toward a common vision, and Massoumi has taken this to heart.

Massoumi is a firm believer that leading by example is the only way to manage a company. Rather than being blocked off in an executive office suite, he sits in an open cubical alongside ZocDoc’s employees and regularly sets aside time for office hours of which anyone in the company can take advantage. The company also provides a catered lunch to employees every day, and Massoumi purposefully eats lunch late to make sure there is enough food for everyone before he serves himself. This speaks to one of the company’s seven core values – Us Before Me. Put your team before yourself, and don’t ask others to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself.

Massoumi also operates with a mindset of company connectedness and inter-departmental collaboration, and the idea that at the end of the day, there is one mission that unites all of the company’s teams.

Giving orders, micro-managing, and having strict working hours may not always be the best practice in enhancing company productivity, purpose, and passion.

As I learned about ZocDoc’s unlimited vacation, the biggest concern I naturally had was that people would take advantage of this. To the contrary, however, Massoumi reassured me that to his knowledge there has never been an incident of abuse. In fact, as he explained further, employees intrinsically feel a heightened sense of responsibility, ownership and ambition, rather than being obligated to do something.

As referred to earlier, Massoumi and his co-founders lead by example with one of the goals being shared understanding and alignment of everyone towards a common vision. The single most important thing people want is to feel a part of something bigger than themselves and by taking the time to keep employees connected, it fosters a spirit of working as a team towards a shared goal.

In essence, establishing a healthy and productive company culture is at the heart of every successful company. Massoumi and his team have developed an award-winning culture at ZocDoc through leading by example, connecting the company, giving employees a sense of ownership, and creating an overall shared purpose for everybody to work toward.

A big mistake most early stage founders make is to focus solely on the product and sales before establishing a culture people want to work in. I too made that mistake, and luckily realized in time and in conversation with Massoumi how to change and build the foundation of a successful company.

As seen on Forbes: