The Importance of Personal Growth, and Why You Should Want to Be Like a Green Banana
“Every day you should do something to grow in an area you’re passionate about; your best skill should be your ability to learn what you don’t already know.
On September 24, 2015, Tobias Lütke (Co-Founder & CEO of Shopify) was invited to AccelerateOTT to speak on several topics related to Shopify and his personal story.
I have been observing Shopify for quite a while. One thing Tobi talks about consistently is personal growth. In 2014, he explained his theories of the “boxes”:
When I first started thinking of joining Shopify, I spent a lot of time self-reflecting, figuring out if it was the right fit for me and understanding why I wanted to join a tech company (you can read more about this here: http://bit.ly/fabienlifestory).
The position I felt I was best suited to was the position of Business Development Manager.
I felt like the right guy for the job, meeting all the requirements… except for one:
Number of years of experience
Having started a business in Bolivia, I had first-hand experience with commerce. In Asia, I saw how it is everywhere, being heavily influenced by mobile technology. Thus, I found myself truly passionate about the idea of a platform that allows thousands of merchants to build their own online businesses. However, I kept wondering how I could prove to the team at Shopify that I had what it took to excel in the role. After hours of reflexion, I came up with a one-sentence plan:
“Be authentic and high-touch.”
I knew that trying to hide who I was or sell a story that wasn’t genuine would not work. Instead, I tried to find a memorable way to be remembered as an authentic and high-touch person. After 8 months in Asia, I was back in Ottawa and living 5 minutes away from the Shopify offices. I decided to hand-deliver packages to thank them for interviewing me.
After my first interview, I put together the following package:
As I brainstormed for ways to demonstrate how fast I could learn, my ability to adapt and who I was, it hit me.
I was a green banana.
At this point, there were many things that I did not know, but I was going to learn them incredibly fast. I wasn’t ripe, meaning that my skills were only going to get better, and I was robust, so I could take on a lot of challenges and figure out how to solve them.
Seeing how Tobi is focused on personal growth made me start thinking about the concept a lot more, and it became a frequent topic of discussion with friends. Have you ever met someone who seems to always be learning or trying to know more? These people appear to be in a constant state of growth, asking questions, googling things just because they want to know more. One of my close friends is this type of person, so I asked him what was driving his desire to learn. He looked at me and said:
“If you’re not learning, you’re relatively becoming more stupid as human knowledge improves everyday.”
As direct and as questionable this statement is, I couldn’t agree more. I believe that, for young people and perhaps everyone, the best way to get a job is to show (not tell) how fast you can and did learn new things; how in uncomfortable situations, you adapted and improved to tackle the challenges you were faced with.
As I was going through the hiring process at Shopify (learn more about it here: http://interviewing.shopify.com/), I got to the final interview round: meeting the members of my potential future team. I had a great time, talking about the projects they were working on, my vision and so on. At the end, I left with a good feeling. By now, Shopify was my first and only choice. Never did I feel so much on the same page with a company culture, the problems it was solving and my potential future team. So, I went back to my one-sentence plan:
“Be authentic and high-touch”
I’m French, so I tried to come up with something that would make everyone in the team smile and convince them that I was the guy they would want to work with. My interview was on a Friday, so I figured what better way to start the week and remember Fabien than with…crepes! So there I was on a Sunday night at 10pm, cooking crepes and packing them with some Nutella. On Monday morning, I dropped off the package and hoped that I wasn’t starting to be doing “too much”. The responses I got cleared my doubts:
A few days later, I received the “official” call and filled in the paperwork. I am joining the Platform Team as a Business Development Advocate and will be starting on October 5th.
I wrote this article because a lot of friends and connections asked me about Shopify and “what I did to get in”. Instead of a “What you should do to get in a tech company” type article, I figured my story might be of interest. I hope this article also drove home the importance of personal growth, especially for students thinking about their career plans.
One last thought: