I’ve always found partnership to be one of life’s greatest teaching instruments. When we find someone with whom we “click”, we teem with the excitement of what might now be possible. We feel powerful — full of new potential, but also anchored in a way that focuses us and calls our attention inward, into the practice of partnership.
While most people will point to the importance of shared values, or a common vision — for me, that’s only part of the equation.
I need to see the person.
I need to see how they interact with their family. How they lead, and where they are willing to be led. The way in which their team comes to their defense, and they to theirs. Alignment isn’t something you can cross-check by writing it all down. It’s peace of mind that comes from the most intimate of data points. From knowing that all of one’s energy can safely be focused on the act of creation because the foundation isn’t going to move. Ever.
I’ve been fairly blessed when it comes to partnerships in my life. My first business partner was ten years my senior and taught me everything I ever needed to know about work ethic and will. That was 14 years ago and today we are still investors in each others’ companies.
Fast forward to 7 years ago, and I can distinctly remember Satish and Verne telling me it was time to come home from backpacking and become their partner. While we didn’t have a clue what the business plan would be, the faith in the partnership — the people — was more than enough to take the leap. It turned into 3 of the best years of my life.
And because I like to think in chapters (and 7 years seems about the right length), it’s only fitting that a new partnership should now emerge.
I met Cliff van der Linden 1024 days ago. I was roughly 8 months removed from my time at Shopify and Cliff was looking for something of an informal advisor. I was more than happy to oblige. He struck me as one of the kindest and most genuine people I had ever met.
As our relationship sailed past the one year mark, we began to talk about our paths purposefully intertwining. Cliff had built Vox Pop Labs as a solo founder and so there was a lot to consider. Though our conversations never really took off back then, the exploration brought us closer.
After a second year of getting to know each other, Cliff decided we should re-visit the idea. We danced around it ever so carefully and tried to wrestle the broad strokes into something that would align us — both now and in the future — but ultimately, it took a few more false starts and close calls before finding a place of traction.
Which brings us to today.
It is with great pride that I am joining Vox Pop Labs as their COO and in the process, becoming Cliff’s partner. To say that I feel the excitement of what might now be possible, would be an understatement. I can’t help but see the incredible potential this team has to shape the future (and I look forward to writing about it more in the weeks to come).
But most importantly, I feel anchored in a way that cannot be undone. And there’s an incredible peace in that grounding. One that allows us to set our sights on the horizon without the slightest concern for whether we’ve chosen the right ship.
These are the table stakes of great partnership. They are earned, not found.
If peering into the future is your cup of tea, feel free to follow me here as I will be increasingly writing about machine learning and AI.