Entrepreneurs

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom warns about the danger of being successful

Instagram Co-Founder and CEO Kevin Systrom speaks onstage at the inaugural Girlboss Rally on March 4, 2017 in Los Angeles.
Getty Images
Instagram Co-Founder and CEO Kevin Systrom speaks onstage at the inaugural Girlboss Rally on March 4, 2017 in Los Angeles.

Kevin Systrom experienced massive success relatively quickly. Two years after he launched Instagram in 2010, Facebook acquired the company for $1 billion. Today, the co-founder and CEO of the photo-sharing app is worth an estimated $1.34 billion.

Depending on how you choose to deal with success, however, it can be a dangerous thing, the 33-year-old tells Deepa Seetharaman of the Wall Street Journal: "The thing that I'm learning that has surprised me the most is you have a window of relevance and, unless you reinvent yourself within that window of relevance, you die.

"I call it 'success syndrome,' where you're successful, you do all the things that made you successful and you keep doing those things thinking that that's why you're going to be successful in the future. Things change."

Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom.
Emmanuel Dunand | AFP | Getty Images
Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom.

That's why the most successful people are constantly looking for ways to improve and educate themselves, no matter how much wealth they build.

Take self-made billionaire Richard Branson, who says he still hasn't "made it." Like many of the world's highest achievers, who continually push themselves out of their comfort zones, Branson doesn't want to get complacent — or, as Systrom would say, fall into the trap of "success syndrome."

"The way I see it, life is all about striving and growing," Branson writes on LinkedIn. "I never want to have made it; I want to continue making it!"

Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who helped break a 108-year championship drought last year when his team clinched the 2016 World Series, has a similar perspective. "You really want to avoid the potential for complacency," says Maddon. His next challenge is winning back-to-back titles.

Despite his team's historic 2016 win, the Cubs aren't going to be getting comfortable anytime soon, he says: "If you're uncomfortable, growth continues. If you're comfortable, growth diminishes."

Don't miss: A key mindset shift may explain why Richard Branson and other top CEOs are so successful