Why does Pluralsight exist? And what does it mean for you?

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Have you ever answered this question about your place of work: Why do we exist? I’m not talking about your mission statement or marketing slogan. What does your company aspire to do or to be? Pluralsight grew a lot in 2013. After taking $27.5M in Series A funding at the start of the year, we set out to build our executive team, the key leaders we knew would help us grow our training library and reach new customers. Before our first offsite meeting, I asked everyone to read Patrick Lencioni’s “The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business.” I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to make an impact on their company’s culture and goals. One of the main principles in the book is that leadership teams need to reach clarity and alignment by agreeing on the answers to six important questions, the first being: Why do we exist? For Pluralsight, we could have said we exist to give the industry’s leading minds a forum in which to share their knowledge. Or, we exist to release new courses on the latest technologies daily. Or, to give professional developers and IT admins the skills they need to excel in their careers. All of these things are true, but do they best sum up how we strive to contribute to a better world? It sounds lofty to think of any business in such a way, but it’s important to look beyond the day-to-day and communicate to your staff why what you do matters, so everyone in the company understands how important they are to the bigger picture. After some deep soul searching, we realized that Pluralsight exists to democratize professional technology training for people around the world. But what does this mean? All too often, “democratization” is a word that gets disassociated from technology education. In the U.S., 9 out of 10 K-12 schools don’t teach programming. Less than 2.4 percent of college students graduate with a computer science degree, and that number keeps dropping. The average classroom-based technology training costs more than $2,000 per week. The premise of “democratizing” something is to make it available to all people. Technology education, however, has long been reserved for only a few. We aim to change that, not only in the U.S. but everywhere. We want anyone, at any life stage, to be able to take control of their learning and pursue technology as a passion and a career. We do this by providing the most comprehensive library for serious technology professionals; no matter what technology skill someone wants to improve upon or learn for the first time, we aim to cover it, so people have a one-stop solution for their learning. We do this by incentivizing our authors with a royalty model, so they’ll create the most in-demand and highest quality courses. We serve our training online, so it can be accessed anytime and anywhere, without the restriction of being near a training center or school. We offer several entry-level courses free to introduce new people to the tech world, as well as kids courses to help inspire young learners. We also partner with schools to give students access to our training. And we remain committed to offering our professional training at an affordable price. I don’t want this to come across as the CEO patting his company on the back. We know there’s still a lot of work to be done toward the goal of democratizing professional technology training, and that’s the whole point.  When your company can rally around a call it truly believes is worth pursuing, your team will feel compelled to fight for it for as long as it takes. For our customers, that means we’ll be relentless in our pursuit of providing you with a better experience every day. We expect you to hold us to it.

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Aaron Skonnard

Aaron Skonnard is the CEO of Pluralsight (NASDAQ: PS), a fast-growing enterprise technology learning platform. Aaron cofounded Pluralsight in 2004 and has since grown the company to more than 1,000 employees and 1,500 expert authors. As CEO, Aaron focuses on business strategy, future direction, product development and strategic partnerships. On a day-to-day basis, he works closely with the entire executive team in different capacities, including recruiting, brand management, marketing, sales, feature planning and content acquisition.