Why you should listen to me: I work at Lucid, the world’s largest platform for human answers. If MacGyver worked at a tech company, he’d do what I do. I’m the CEO’s right hand man. I see everything and execute on most things.
In addition to working closely with Patrick, I also work with the entire executive team at Lucid. One of the few consistent aspects of my week is a meeting with the execs where company direction is discussed. As I mentioned in my last post, I was addicted to reading about what these folks do, but I had never actually met someone with a “C” attached to their title. I thought that these meetings would be choc-o-bloc full of data and robust analysis of KPIs, revenue and margin updates, client cohort analysis, etc. To that end — I’d be lying if I said I didn’t consume absurd amounts of Zest Tea while practicing all of the buzzwords in anticipation of the first meeting.
“If we really want to be a disruptive company then we have to pivot.”
“This new initiative will be a win-win. That means it’s mission critical. Ping me throughout the day with updates.”
“We are change agents.”
I was prepared. I had the lingo. They would be impressed. Then I watched a two hour meeting focus almost exclusively on people. Of course this was an anomaly, right? No, it happened the next week, and the following week after that. During a 1:1, Patrick asked me what was the biggest thing I had learned, and it was simple. The executive team focuses on people…a lot.
My initial thought was that, actually, this was genius. By understanding your employees’ desires in addition to their competencies you make them ultra-productive. Wrong. I failed to realize that executives actually have feelings too. Working alongside someone for a considerable period of time inevitably creates mutual affection. Not as strong as family and friends, but a long way from the cold detached way I was thinking of employees.
Lucid is a fast-growing company, (roughly 70% year over year) so that means people will likely leave at some point in the near term. Additionally, a good number of employees here are in their mid to late twenties which increases the likelihood they will leave. The vast majority of departures I have seen here were not only cordial, but embraced. We threw a party to wish a group of employees the best of luck in their next endeavors. Patrick tells new hires, “Nobody stays at Lucid forever, not even me.”
Lesson learned: It’s better to have an A-team with a B-product. But why not strive for both?
I admit, for a while, I didn’t fully understand this. Sure, happy employees means a more productive company. Sure, we have talented people in the building and aligning their current activity with personal goals sounds great. But I was still unsure of what that actually meant. It had to be more than just telling employees “we care.” It had to be more than scheduling a 1:1 with them. It had to be ingrained within the company culture for things to actually work.
Then something strange happened a few months ago. We introduced a goals initiative that covered everything from company-wide goals to personal development goals, and all things in between. Now, everything that you do should not only be tied to Lucid achievements, but also to your personal career growth. Also, these are not just conversations. Everything is written and tracked. In many ways, Lucid looks at themselves as just one stop on a very long journey that is much bigger than the company itself. I have learned many lessons, and will undoubtedly learn more, but this will rank at the top.
Lesson learned: You know nothing so write everything down and ask questions.
This tale is clearly very specific to my company, so now you may be asking yourself, “Why did I just waste my time? What is the TLDR?” My response to your natural question is two-fold. First, do not say TLDR outside of work, ever. Second, understand that there is a strong chance that your company cares about you outside of your margin contributions. Thus, you should express to them that it is mutually beneficial for them to invest in your personal development. Learn how to code. Learn stats. Take that cooking class. Just make sure you can quantify the benefit in a compelling way.
Lesson learned: I need to take stats. I am making a recommendation to you with a sample size of 1. A numbers person somewhere is cringing.
Why you shouldn’t listen to me: I’m just a philosopher. When is the last time they changed the world?
*Editor’s Note: This post was written by Andrew J. Albert and was originally published on Build21, a collective of young black entrepreneurs and innovators working to build meaningful inclusion in design, technology, and entrepreneurship. To read more about Andrew’s tech and entrepreneurship adventures, follow him @techmacgyver on Medium.