Tag Archives: leadership

Both sides of the Table – 2X Employee turned Employer

bestboss

 

As you rush to get to work in the morning, have you sworn that if you owned the company, you’d implement flex hours so that people could show up at work at their most productive times instead of come in and spend the first couple hours drinking coffee and blankly staring at the screen trying to wake up? Yep, I have too, and it seems so obvious!

Have you hoped that you’d be included in strategic discussion, so you can not only have insights into your own near-future but also grow professionally and see “how things are done”? Hey, I have too!

I always had plans to start my own company. Yet, after graduation, with looming bills and debt (which have only gone up with time), I held 2 full time jobs before starting up. I had amazing luck in coming up with a list of things NOT to do because one of my bosses was an exceptionally unlovable person (to put it mildly) – for example; he had a software installed in everyone’s computer to capture screenshots every 5 seconds which he checked religiously to ensure we weren’t wasting our time! Polar opposite, my other bosses (co-owned company) were absolutely spectacular, nurturing, fair, encouraging, supportive and even protective! I can’t say enough good things about them.

Given these confoundingly stark differences, I started off with some fine ideas of what’s good and what’s not:

Things I feel I succeeded at, as an employer:

  • We have health coverage from day 1 (peace of mind is priority)
  • Constant (although meager) supply of snacks and pop,¬† (programmers are notorious snackers!)
  • All bank holidays are our holidays (yayyy 2-day Easter)
  • Bi-weekly Pay-Day lunches that the office pays for~
  • Open conversation about strategy, money, new clients, what’s keeping us up an night etc. (Sharing a common goal makes us stronger)
  • Related to above – having everyone aligned and motivated (to the point of making sacrifices of LeadSift)
  • Paid downtown parking (because, why not)
  • All the employees make more than all the founders (that’s table stakes)
  • Equality (it’s pretty easy for now though, since our team is pretty small)
  • Wear whatever¬† you want (I hated dressing up like a consultant)
  • You can choose whatever laptop you want, within a set budget (Ubuntu? Windows? Mac? Windows in a Mac machine? Sure, we have them all)
  • Real flex hours (Mostly because I can’t be productive before 10am)

Things I failed at, as an employer:

  • Promised half-day Fridays but due to work pressure, was unable to keep it up
  • Figure out a way to compensate engineers for their hard work as much as/similar to sales bonuses
  • Not have as many congratulatory or celebratory or seasonal celebrations as I wanted
  • 4pm Beer Fridays – something that was talked about but never implemented
  • Just failing to set expectations in general – growth numbers, commissions, raises etc (because even I don’t know)
  • Keeping sexist/discriminatory/rough remarks at bay
  • Maintaining a clean office when there’s no visitors scheduled to arrive

I DO LOVE my team, all the weirdness inclusive – nay, specially for the weirdness and quirkiness! So, I’d love to know what would you want to see done differently at your work place or mine? What’s most important to you?

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Founders’ Mania

This is going to be a very hard piece to write, because some of the thoughts are fogged by my personal emotions while the others are just controversial.

For the last few years, tech-company founders of the young, unabashed, hoodie-wearing type are being given celebrity status that is hurting their business and everyone else involved. And this needs to stop before there’s too many people crushed and a bubble burst and a lot of good cash lost.

Let me elaborate where I am coming from.

A lot of the first time founders find themselves flogged by media and hype. It’s not easy starting a company but come on, people have been starting businesses and making money from them for ages and, that endeavor, until recently, has never been looked upon as something “heroic”. This pr and superfluous attention is drawing more and more people into “startups” just because they like the way it sounds and not necessarily because they have a great business idea that they are committed to. This is spawning lots of really bad startups which live with ridiculous expectations.

The coolness of startups are also attracting and creating lots venture capitalists or investors – either people with personal wealth or folks who have been hired by institutional VCs because they needed positions filled. These investors create a whole new round of issues – they bring with them limited experience of running and growing a company, very little experience of leadership and venture capital and a tiny or non-existent network of connections – therefore being unable to support the young startups with the essentials they need at the early stages.

Who suffers? Almost every startup. While lots of the startups actually have a real business idea, the enchantments of startup life puts unnecessary pressure to live up-to the big fake picture. It instils incorrect priorities in pursuing “cool swag”, promotes stupid ideologies as the CEO is hailed as a rockstar, creates confusion as the tiny company slogs their ass off with minimal mentoring and publicizes ridiculous expectations about the little company that has a 99% chance to fail. It creates an unhealthy environment for employees who join startups and are expected to work super hard for a lower pay while neglecting family and have little to gain other than experience – the unfair part being, even in the off-chance that the company succeeds, the founders make most of the cash.

And the newly christened investors end up funding one failed startup after another.

 

 

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