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July 23, 2021,

Rockaway Insider with Jan Jírovec, Rockaway Capital Investment Partner: You can’t build a business relationship without humility and respect

Rockaway Insider with Jan Jírovec, Rockaway Capital Investment Partner: You can’t build a business relationship without humility and respect

For Jan Jírovec, good relationships, humility, and respect to one’s colleagues as well as one’s “opponents” are alpha and omega – which is why it’s logical that as an investment partner at Rockaway Capital, he focuses mainly on business development, thus ensuring fulfilment of its long-term vision and management of strategic activities. And all this usually from early in the morning and with a virtually empty mailbox.

What key thing has 2020 taught you?
2020 showed us what we’d never have been able to imagine: that everything closed overnight – shops, offices – and that suddenly everything had to be done differently. We were suddenly able to put together projects that had been languishing on the back burner, we were able to work remotely and without holding meetings, and nevertheless we succeeded in doing a huge amount of work and in most cases our business did well. It turned out that in a crisis like that, the team is capable of pulling together and focusing on the right goal. I’m very grateful for that.

What is the number-one rule that you follow at all costs in your business?
I really believe that it’s important to keep your objective in mind and try whatever works. People often forget where they’re headed, and it’s often better to overcome initial obstacles, look for various options, look at the problem from a greater perspective – simply put, to not give up.

One learns from one’s mistakes. What mistake taught you the most, and what, specifically?
In life it happens that you think you’ve exhausted all possibilities, that no agreement is possible. But it’s good to be really certain, because in the future you could regret your decision. That’s why it’s good to step back and go over it several times. We too have found ourselves in situations where we didn’t give some projects they deserved at the time. Today they’re successful companies, but back then we didn’t follow through due to other things we had to concentrate on.

What is your most important piece of advice for new entrepreneurs and start-uppers?
Remember that even where your competitors are concerned, you shouldn’t cross the line of mutual respect. You never know when and in what circumstances you will meet a given person again – in a few years they may be in a different position and help you in a major way. Many times in my life, I’ve conducted tough negotiations with various people, but even years later we’re capable of having a drink together and talking like friends. You can’t build a business relationship without humility and respect, and as you grow, so do your “opponents”. That’s something you should always keep in mind.

What do you consider the greatest benefit of your business for society?
Over the years that I’ve been involved in the digital business, I am exceedingly proud of everything that we’ve accomplished in this field. On a daily basis we’re bringing to society something that we were formerly not even able to imagine; every day, people are using services that ten years ago were completely groundbreaking and certainly not mundane: shopping delivered to your door, comparison of thousands of products with one click, everything accessible from your mobile phone – we’re influencing the behaviour of millions of people in the best sense of the word, and saving them time so they can devote it to other, more pleasant things.

What question are you asked most often, and how do you answer?
That’s simple: “Where’s Jakub?” I’ve known Jakub Havrlant for ten years, and that whole time I’ve succeeded in avoiding this tricky question with dignity. That’s because Jakub has an incredible characteristic – due to his extreme workload, he is often impossible to find, but it’s precisely due to this fact that people around him often solve a problem without having to discuss it with him.

What life hack helps you most in your work?
I’ve got two relatively simple ones that have been working for me for a few years now. I always keep the number of unread messages in my inbox under forty. That’s how I prioritize the most important things, and then know that the rest is either finished or not that important. As soon as my inbox is fuller, I know it’s time to work harder.
My second “hack” is being one of the first in the office. Not so I can demonstrate to those around me that I never stop working, but on the contrary, I give myself the opportunity to prepare properly. The whole day is then significantly simpler for me.


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