Neil Blumenthal is a co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker, an eyewear designer that partners with non-profits to donate a pair of glasses for every pair sold.
This week on Dreaming Made Simple, Neil shares what led him to co-found Warby Parker, and about the importance of clarity and curiosity.
Dreaming Made Simple: What’s your professional dream? How did your dream originate?
Neil Blumenthal: My goal is to help people—over the last ten years, it’s been to help people see. After graduating from college, I interned at the International Crisis Group, where I quickly began to wonder if there were quicker ways to effect change than through policy. Through family friends I met Jordan Kassalow, an optometrist who founded a social enterprise called VisionSpring. I worked with VisionSpring to train women in developing countries to give eye exams and sell affordable glasses to members of their community. It was witnessing the impact of this simple intervention—getting glasses to people who had trouble working or learning without them—that planted the seeds for what would become Warby Parker.
Dreaming Made Simple: How do you define who you are and who you are not as a company?
Neil Blumenthal: It’s crucial to have a deep understanding of your organization’s reasons for being. We were methodical about building an identity from day one—coming up with a list of core values, defining what we wanted our company culture to be, thinking about long-term goals.
We also defined what our hierarchy of messaging would be—what we would focus on communicating to customers. There were (and still are) three messages: first, that Warby Parker glasses look amazing; second, that our glasses are affordable; and third, that for every pair purchased, we distribute a pair of glasses to someone in need.
Dreaming Made Simple: Tell about the importance of simplifying and how you do it.
Neil Blumenthal: Simplifying is important because it forces you to recognize what your priorities are. Tips: Be direct in communication. Try to respond to emails quickly so they don’t pile up. Smile. Say "thank you” often.
Dreaming Made Simple: You told Inc., “Discover what you love as fast as possible.” How does someone do that?
Neil Blumenthal: By being curious about the world, trying a million different things, pushing yourself to meet people from all walks of life and continually expanding your own horizons.