April 28, 2022

Why Aron Susman of Ro believes failure is the key to startup success


Ro CFO Aron Susman spends a good amount of time thinking about failure. But it has nothing to do with Ro’s substandard performance. On the contrary, Ro has experienced extraordinary growth, scaling from a telehealth business exclusively focused on men’s health to now treating everything from from dermatological conditions to fertility issues.

Aron is instead focused on failure because he believes that vulnerability and the ability to make mistakes and learn from them are superpowers in a fast-growing startup. He notes that businesses run into trouble when people aren’t empowered to make mistakes and don’t feel supported when they do. That’s why he spends a great deal of time building trust with both his team and the company at large. 

We’ve condensed some of the major themes from our recent conversation with Aron on the FinOps Today podcast and summarized them below. But to get a full picture of Aron’s story at Ro, be sure to check out episode 10, available on all major podcast streaming platforms. Here’s some of what you’ll hear about in this episode: 

The power of failure

“It's okay to say we messed up. It's okay to say we made a mistake. We try not to make the same mistake twice. But it's okay to make mistakes. And if you're vulnerable with folks and you share that with them, you will earn their trust. And I think ultimately that psychological safety and trust is what allows for great collaborative, cross communication."

Why clear communication and pre-reads are just as important as the work

“And I think it's what actually separates a really good finance person from a really great one. When you can give people information digestible chunks that give them the literacy they need to make the decisions they want and build an allianceship there, that's when you've really...crossed from good to great.”

Aron’s contrarian opinion on needing an MBA to move up in finance

“To be a CFO, do I need to get an MBA? And I don't have an MBA, so I'm probably biased. But my answer is no. I think if you are a physician who wants to then become an entrepreneur or join a startup and be more of a medical clinical officer and you don't have any business training, then maybe. But otherwise I don't think it's necessary."

How Covid-19 impacted Ro’s business

“What [Covid] did was change regulations, change behavior, change attitudes towards what telemedicine could become and pull that feature forward for us. And so we want to make sure that...even if the macro environment is different out there, you don't want to cut your nose to spite your face. You don't want to choke off future growth by not investing, but you also want to be smart about investing and just make sure that when the world's different, you operate appropriately and potentially act a little more cautiously.”

Check out the full transcript here.

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