Interview with John Florez: CEO of Drupal Connect

1. How did you come up with the idea to start Drupal Connect?
My wife Karen and I started a technology recruitment company in 2003. By early 2009, we began to see more companies looking for Drupal developers. At the same time, there was a significant dip in available technology jobs: we were witnessing the second-largest economic downturn is U.S history. The Drupal traction sparked an interest in our company, and pretty soon we found ourselves working with a dozen or so companies to help them find the best Drupal talent. 

In February 2009, we decided to take the plunge and dropped everything to start Drupal Staffing. It's always been my passion as are recruiter to find the best quality people, not just from a talent perspective, but also based on their personality. The candidates who made our clients the happiest possessed both the talent and the right personality to compliment the client’s company and culture. After about a year, it dawned on me that I had this massive pool of Drupal talent, and I realized it was time to start Drupal Connect. 

2. What do you think has propelled Drupal Connect’s growth over the last three years?
We have a team that is just so passionate about the organization and about collectively achieving a unified vision. When you have so many people going above and beyond the typical call of duty, it makes it a lot easier for me to drive the company’s vision and achieve our goals. We don't let things fall through the cracks. Our team is 100% committed to the company, and to each other. Our clients pick up on our enthusiasm right away. It's the combination of team and talent that has propelled our growth.

3. What does an average day in the life of John Florez look like?
Ha, man! No two days are ever the same. But in the course of the week it goes something like this:
There is a fine balance I try to execute. I try to lead more than I manage. I have enough faith in my team that they'll manage the day-to-day details that collectively make up a full day’s worth of work. I make sure that everything that can be done in order to achieve my vision is completed and underway and that I maximize my output. This week, for example, it's about SEO and the internal strategies that we are focused on helping us reach that goal. Constant growth strategizing is part of my every day routine. I do this by motivating our team to come up with ideas. Today, for example, I'm going to call on my brightest guys to get the creative juices flowing and come up with our next product, such as Trekk. It's all about empowering our staff to do things like this, and making them feel that in working for Drupal Connect, we can achieve anything we set our minds to.

4. What has been the best part of running Drupal Connect so far?
One thing I’m really proud of is when I step aside and I see everything for what it really is. I see a team of talented, awesome individuals, and many of the people whom I work with are also my friends. So I feel humbled, and I feel honored. That's the best part.

5. If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would it be, and why?
Right now we have so many safeguards and measures, key indicators for projects that keep them from spiraling into a dismal abyss. We have such a good infrastructure now, so many people keeping our projects flowing smoothly. And you know what, you won’t know unless you dive in and experience it first-hand and make mistakes. It's part of the growth process. There are so many pains along the way. But it's all worth it ultimately in the end.

6. If there's one piece of advice you could offer to someone who is about to start a new business what would it be?
You are about to dive into a lion’s den, and you're about to experience pain. You need to take that pain with enthusiasm and use it to gain knowledge. Realize that it’s a temporary pain, and if you stick through it, it'll yield a lot of positive results.

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