“Get up, do something, do anything, just make a start.”
On the evening of November 10, REES Capital Managing Partner Amy Rees Anderson will be inducted to the UTC Hall of Fame alongside Pluralsight CEO Aaron Skonnard and Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne.
At age 17, Anderson arrived in Utah as a BYU freshman. Armed with her first checkbook, she quickly bounced enough checks to compel her dad to catch a flight to Salt Lake City and explain to his daughter how bank accounts work. “If I can go from being that girl who couldn’t balance a checkbook to selling a company for just under $400,000, 000, that’s a testament that anyone can do it,” Anderson says.
Anderson sold MediConnect, one of the largest cloud-based health information exchanges, to Verisk Analytics for over $377 million, then founded REES Capital and the IPOP Foundation, where Anderson currently works to help the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Prior to MediConnect, Anderson founded a healthcare technology company when she was just 23. “I decided to start my own company because I thought it would give me freedom,” she says as she chuckles. She explains that as a single mother she wanted to provide for her two kids and have some flexibility in her schedule. While the flexibility wasn’t quite as flexible as she had hoped, she learned she had a refined acumen for business and enjoyed running her own. She later went on to found MediConnect Global in 2006. She sold MediConnect Global in 2012 and started REES Capital and the IPOP Foundation that same year.
“You’re capable of a lot more than you think you are,” Anderson says. “The most important thing is to start and try.” She remembers the advice of her grandfather who told her, “Get up, do something, do anything, just make a start.” Then she offers advice of her own. “You can’t be afraid to fail. You only fail if you don’t try. If you try something and it doesn’t work, don’t ever look at it as a failure. But don’t make the same mistake twice.”
When asked what other words of wisdom Anderson has for young entrepreneurs like those she mentors through IPOP and REES Capital, she answers, “Don’t compromise your integrity. It’s the most valuable asset you have.” She explains that young people may not recognize that there’s a dollar value on integrity, but should understands that clients appreciate businesses with a reputation for acting with integrity.
She also encourages leaders to set and stick to their company values, and to apologize immediately should they violate any of those values. She recalls a time when she apologized to each of her employees after she hesitated to remove an employee who had failed to treat others with respect. “We all make mistakes and are learning as we go. Being CEO doesn’t make you a perfect person,” she says. Anderson also expresses the importance of connecting with employees, especially when your team scales quickly. “If you don’t communicate for yourself, other people will communicate for you. In the end it’s really about communicating.” While running MediConnect Global, Anderson wrote daily blogs for her employees. “I found that the more authentic you are, the more [your employees] will get behind you and support you.”
Amy Rees Anderson contributes weekly to Forbes and the Huffington Post and serves on the boards of a number of organizations. She has been the recipient of Utah Business Magazine’s CEO of the Year Award, the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, is the first ever woman to be named BYU’s Entrepreneur of the Year, and is now a UTC Hall of Fame inductee. “Amy’s unceasing pursuit of the vision for her company and her life is the example of transformation that the Utah Technology Council seeks to recognize through induction in our Hall of Fame,” says UTC CEO John Knotwell. “From the literal kitchen table to a multi-hundred million dollar exit, Amy demonstrated fortitude, perseverance and grit — the values that have made the Utah Tech community successful.” Of being inducted Anderson says, “It’s humbling and obviously an honor. I want to make sure I continue to give back.”