Thoughts On Business Leadership – Dax Dasilva

Small Business Canada

Dax Dasilva – Founder & CEO of Lightspeed

Dax Dasilva is the creative mind behind Lightspeed, Never Apart, and Age of Union. Founded in 2005, Lightspeed develops a cloud commerce platform used by retail and restaurant customers in over a hundred countries. The company’s mission is to bring cities and communities to life by powering independent businesses.

Lightspeed employs over 800 staff located in eight cities and has raised $292M USD from Accel Partners, iNovia Capital, Investissement Québec and the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. The company went public in March 2019 on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol LSPD, becoming one of Canada’s top 10 technology IPOs.

In 2015 Dasilva also founded Never Apart, a cultural non-profit determined to bring about positive social change and unity through original programming with global reach and impact. Housed in Lightspeed’s former offices, Never Apart cultivates a diverse following and has welcomed thousands into its 12,000-square-foot space.

Helping entrepreneurs become leaders in their communities through Lightspeed’s technology and elevating artists through his work at Never Apart are fundamental to Dasilva’s philosophy. He fosters cultures of innovation, promotes diverse leadership, and values different viewpoints.

Dasilva’s debut book released in May 2019, Age of Union: Igniting the Changemaker, brings leadership, spirituality and environmental guardianship together with themes of identity, diversity, cultural expression, and individual empowerment to ignite the impactful changemakers that the world needs now.

  1. What is your definition of Leadership?
    • To me, Leadership is unlocking the potential for individuals to be agents of change in ways both large and small.
    • Leadership is about inspiring leadership within others so that they too can make a difference, guiding in a meaningful way; true leaders create leaders.
  2. What are the most important values and ethics you demonstrate as a leader?
    • Some of the most important values, ethics, and qualities I believe I demonstrate as a leader and hope others can learn from include:
      • Listening – hearings others’ needs and opinions, applying different perspective to a problem or scenario
      • Creating seats at the table – embracing diverse ideas which contribute to innovation at Lightspeed
      • Instilling trust – This comes not from behaviour but from accountability. Your attitude and conduct overtime should demonstrate that you can be depended on
      • Developing a community of allies – Strong leadership builds a team with impact. Leaders need to set aside their ego, and where they lack experience and knowledge, attract people with specialized knowledge
      • Knowing how to make difficult decisions – Always looking at the broader picture and making choices that contribute to the greater outcome
      • Fostering a culture of inclusivity and diversity – Leaders set the tone for exchange and action and making values such as these prominent in a workplace culture contributes to a healthy, supportive environment
      • Being a role model – Educate, support, mentor and grow individuals by demonstrating the qualities you hope to inspire in others
      • Being a thought leader – In your industry or area of expertise, share tools for success through open dialogue
  1. How do you encourage the development of your employees?
    • Many of the values and qualities I’ve just described apply to how I work to encourage the development of my employees, including listening to their needs, giving everyone a voice, and fostering that culture of inclusivity and diversity.
    • I truly believe in also giving employees the opportunity to give back in a way that is meaningful for them. For example, as part of our corporate social responsibility, we empower employees to take one day a year to volunteer with any of our customers, a charity, or not-for-profit of their choice.
  2. What is your advice to Canadian business owners during the COVID-19 Pandemic? ​
    • My advice for Canadian business owners is to truly use this time to support one another, especially as small and medium-sized businesses will need that support now more than ever.
    • For example, we at Lightspeed announced several new initiatives to support its local retail and restaurant customers who have been affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Effective immediately, and for the next 3 months, Lightspeed is now offering the following services for free to help customers adapt:
    • Lightspeed has also rolled out a #lightspeedlocal initiative that engages its company employees to shop locally and support small businesses in our network. The program reimburses employees in its 14 global offices up to $500 in local currency on purchases employees make from any Lightspeed retail or restaurant customer, whether through eCommerce shopping, meal takeout or delivery.
    • To further help SMBs protect their businesses, Lightspeed launched an online COVID-19 Retail and Restaurant Resource Guide. The guide includes tips for operational tasks, as well as tools for new revenue streams to help businesses navigate changes in consumer behavior. This time can also be spent reflecting on the current business model, considering strategy, and spending time on the back end of your systems. For example:
      • Do a full audit of your business by running Lightspeed Analytics reports
      • Review methods for optimizing customer experience on eCommerce
      • Refresh social media skills and promote positive reviews
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