Jack Dorsey says practice, and punk, makes perfect

Jack Dorsey

As Square celebrates two years of processing payments in Australia, co-founder Jack Dorsey — of Twitter fame — explains how he’s inspired by punk music, and how practice makes perfect — eventually.

Dorsey is currently visiting to Melbourne, and Square has used the occasion to announce it is opening a new engineering hub in the city, and that it has grown its base of sellers in Australia by 150% over the past year.

Opening a ‘fireside chat’ event with Dorsey at Melbourne’s Wade Institute on Monday, Square’s country head for Australia Ben Pfisterer said: “I am thrilled to say we have been embraced by the Australian small business community, beyond our expectations.”

Square is fulfilling a need for small businesses in Australia, Pfisterer said, and the opening of the new centre and hiring of Australian engineers, is a “big part of our growth strategy”.

“We’re here and hiring amazing tech talent,” he said.

Dorsey added that Square was created to fulfil the needs of small businesses. Speaking to Ally Watson of Australian startup Code Like a Girl, Dorsey said the payments technology came about after his co-founder Jim McKelvey lost out on a sale for his glass-art business because he couldn’t accept credit card payments.

Dorsey also described his approach to business is very much ‘learn-as-you-go’.

He said he was inspired by the punk music scene in his hometown of Saint Louis, Missouri, where people get up on stage “with a guitar, with no idea how to play a guitar”, and get better through practice, over time.

“What was interesting about it to me was people learning in public, and getting better in public, and making mistakes in public, and being able to face the critique and face the haters, and face your own fears about not being good. They just move so quickly.”

This philosophy was also evident in open-source technology culture, he said, calling it “such an amazing way to build something”.

“Developing in public, and all the vulnerability and all the openness that that entails was really captivating to me,” he said. 

Dorsey said he takes this approach to entrepreneurship, doing “whatever it takes to make it work”. He never wanted to be a chief executive or an entrepreneur, he said.

“But, I had an idea, something I really believed in, and I knew what I didn’t know, and I knew that I needed to do the work to fill that gap.”

He always goes with “the principle that I know nothing”, he said, and through identifying the gaps in his own knowledge, he learnt programming, and learnt how to run a successful business.

This may take time, Dorsey said, but he added: “The biggest thing that I’ve learned is having patience for something you really believe in.”

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