Home Entrepreneurship Sometimes It Takes Digging Deep To Stay Positive As A CEO

Sometimes It Takes Digging Deep To Stay Positive As A CEO

by Keerat

Zander Lurie, CEO – Momentive (formerly SurveyMonkey)


By Phil Hellmuth

BUSINESS ace and poker king Phil Hellmuth is spreading the word of #Positivity, an exceptional book explaining how positivity has helped him become one of the leading and certainly most controversial but entertaining poker players in the world. 

Hellmuth, who lives in California and is a regular at the card tables in Las Vegas, has won more than £20million from the game. He is also a serial entrepreneur serving on ten advisory boards and has been involved in three successful reverse takeovers.

Here, exclusively for The Business Influencer, he invites a successful business leader to answer a set of positivity questions to see what makes them tick.


As CEO of Momentive (formerly SurveyMonkey), Zander Lurie is on a mission to power the curious so they can shape what’s next. The company, which rebranded in June of 2021 from the ubiquitous SurveyMonkey moniker to the sleek enterprise Momentive branding, has a vision to raise the bar for human experiences by amplifying individual voices. Momentive exists to serve people – their passions, pursuits, and potential. As a business leader, Lurie believe in equality and the power of elevated voices, especially those that might not otherwise be heard.

The company offers a range of agile experience management solutions to help decision-makers shape what’s next for their organisations and industries, including feedback management, brand-tracking, customer satisfaction and the recently launched Workplace Equity IQ, which takes a data-driven approach to managing diversity, equity, and inclusion at work.



Previously, Lurie was SVP of entertainment at GoPro and has served on its board since 2016. Prior to that, Lurie was SVP of strategic development at CBS Corporation via its acquisition of CNET Networks, where he was CFO and head of corporate development. He began his career in the technology investment banking group at J.P. Morgan. Lurie is co-founder of the non-profit CoachArt, which serves chronically ill children and their siblings.


In your business life why is positivity as opposed to negativity so important to you?

Sometimes it takes digging deep to stay positive as a CEO, largely because I sometimes get a whole bunch of challenges and tough choices in any given week. All the good news gets shared and easy calls get made by the team. So I try to remember that I’m never as dumb as I look on my bad days, nor am I as smart as I look on my good days. Leadership needs to steady the ship. That’s easier to do with a positive attitude.


Next to positivity, what is the most important factor that leads to success in business?

Investing in people. Human capital is the engine that creates the most value in business today. It’s not patents or supply chains. How you harness the culture and power of your teams to take on ambitious challenges and big risks – that’s where the magic happens.

I spend my time making connections for many reasons. A CEO can’t be everywhere at once, but there are no more important decisions you will make in your first days as a CEO than people decisions. You’ve got to surround yourself with world-class, high integrity people who prioritize the values you care about – whether it’s company culture or family – and are going to manage it with the same vigilance and care that you put into it. Nobody does anything really, really hard on their own.


What is your earliest memory of an act of positivity?

My dad was a cardiac surgeon. I watched him do a couple of surgeries when I was a kid. He would ask the nurse for the scalpel and then cut into the patient’s breastbone. He did the surgery and then sutured the patient. I couldn’t believe the person would ever walk or breathe again… but they lived! The four-hour surgery looked so hard and complex. My dad had a very positive message for me about his work: “Heart surgery is just a long series of simple steps. One step at a time.” He made hard things seem achievable through hard work and focus.



Who or what has had the most positive influence on your life and why?

My parents were incredible role models in my life. Their love moulded me into the human and leader I am today. In my career, I had other mentors who died far too soon: Jimmy Lee was Vice Chairman at J.P. Morgan, where I spent the first seven years of my career. He was relentless and always positive. Always focused on serving the client, winning the deal, never resting on past performance. And then, of course, Dave Goldberg. Dave was a dear friend and also a mentor. He succeeded at most everything he took on – he lived a purpose-driven life. Always spending his time, energy, money on things that mattered. Every day counted to Dave. I wish he had had many more of them.


Which positive person from history would you like to meet?

LA Dodgers’ icon Jackie Robinson, who became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era. I can’t imagine a human being who was as brave in the face of such immense challenges. And he was a winner too. (I’m a lifelong Dodgers fan!)


What is the most positive piece of advice you have been given – where, when, and by whom?

Serena Williams is on our board. She’s a record holder with 23 career Grand Slams, the second-most singles titles, and she’s an accomplished entrepreneur. She grew up with a strong work ethic, and she took advantage of every opportunity she was given. She’s also seen the ugly side of pay inequity (particularly discrimination against Black women).

Serena has grit. She’s battled back after surgeries and life-threatening childbirth. She never gives up. Even when she doesn’t win, she’s always in the mix, playing today against women half her age. All the while she is building up metaphorical muscle in other parts of her career (investing, entrepreneurship, advocacy, marketing sponsorships, etc). She is truly an inspiration, and I take all of her advice to heart.


What is the most positive piece of advice you could pass on to people?

So many of the world’s problems could be solved if we were willing to slow down and hear what each other has to say. I’m proud to share that we just launched Workplace Equity IQ, a new kind of DEI solution companies can use to layer HR data with confidential employee sentiment information so they can truly listen to what employees have to say about inclusion and belonging at their organisations. One of the most powerful aspects of the solution is that we empower employees to tell the truth (because we collect the data and keep it confidential, there’s no chance your manager can find out what you share) and companies to listen and take meaningful action.



How do you deal with negative people?

First I hear them out. Even the most negative ones can teach you something. I try to find ways to share differing opinions to see if they have a growth mindset. If they’re negative and arrogant, I move on. I don’t have energy for that negativity on a sustained basis.


Where in the world are you in your most positive state of mind?

Skiing. The higher the mountain, the more powder, the better.


If you could be known for just one positive achievement in your life, what would it be?

I’ll be proud to see my three kids live purpose-driven lives. Raising kids is the hardest and most rewarding part of my life. I want them to have strong values and big goals in their lives.

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