Reflections on Shopify On-boarding: Entering the Mothership

It’s easy to feel like you have no routine when you work remotely. Life throws lots of things your way and it’s much harder for norms to form if you work when and wherever you please. It sounds great, doesn’t it — and it can be. Waking up fresh the morning after announcing my resignation didn’t feel much different than any other morning until I turned on my computer and couldn’t get into Slack. I hadn’t realized how use to this ritual I was. I’m sure those of you that are used to this moment — when your screen lights up with messages and rooms with fresh conversations to dive into — can relate to this. I had weeks to get used to not working; and I’m not going to lie — it was pretty amazing. Annchen (my wife) and I spent a week in Egypt diving in the Red Sea. I then had a few days to myself in Cyprus where I did my first wreck dive, scary as. I was later joined by friends and had a blast snorkeling and exploring. Lastly I hopped over to Amsterdam to see one of my best friends who was in town from Johannesburg and got to spend time with his sweet family. The depths of the sea has a way of bringing everything inside your mind to the surface. Somewhere in the Mediterranean staring at a giant sunken ship, little voices crept into my mind that reminded me of all that I gave up (at WooCommerce / Automattic) and the uncertainty that lays ahead.

The days that followed, although incredibly fun were shared with increasing anxiety offset by gentle reminders to myself that I had really thought this out and tried to remind myself that I’m on the right track. I suppose we trust that in life we get better and better at making big decisions, but I had never made a decision quite like this. Not to mention I had to keep the looming decision quiet for some time, which is not a good feeling. In these moments you have the choice to dwell on what you think is true. The truth is that I am capable; I was chosen amongst many and chosen because of actual things I accomplished. On the flip-side there’s the other voice that says, your past successes were luck and it’s just a matter of time before you will be found out to be fraud. This is called Imposter Syndrome and the reality is that I’ve dealt with this every step of my journey in eCommerce, from launching my own store to working at WooCommerce, and there I was in Cyprus underwater starting to believe this was the end of the road.

Boarding the mothership.

Towards the end of my holiday I received the email outlining the weeks ahead. Turns out Shopify has an entire week of on-boarding introducing you to the history of the company, things they value and giving you a solid understanding of product and a feel for the culture / vision. Things that stood out to me right away was the great diversity of roles in the room. From a voice analyst to performance coaches, Shopify is attracting talent from incredible backgrounds from industry-leading companies. In between sessions with the on boarding and culture team we were introduced to executives and leaders from the company. Across the board, Shopify employees are down to earth, eager to share their stories and incredibly transparent. We learned how to make a good latté and teamed up to build and present our own store. The team I was on created a site selling opportunities to purchase experiences with celebs (Think ‘Get A manicure with Trump or Get speech writing lesson from Michelle Obama) — it was good fun.

I’m not sure if it’s just Canadians, the incredible talent acq team or just the buzz of a company accomplishing amazing things, but Shopify employees are an amazing bunch. There’s no replacing prior friendships and shared experiences but deep down there was a fear that I’d struggle to form bonds with new teammates; I couldn’t have been more wrong. My lunches, evenings and weekends were filled with spending time with my colleagues. It meant a ton to me to have the COO come up to me and let me know how happy he was I joined. Members from various teams made time to share their knowledge as I tried to learn how I fit in and how I can help. Navigating your way through a big company with central offices is certainly a new experience.

Where’s this Ship Going?

Shopify is all about entrepreneurship and helping people step out and launch businesses. This is true for employees as well, all are encouraged to start their own stores. Their commitment to helping businesses runs deep. From product to partnerships Shopify is paving the way to empowering people to make a living. A few things that have stood out to me so far in the partnerships space is the commitment to creating opportunity and true value for companies that want to work with Shopify. Anyone can join the program and immediately begin building themes, apps, dev stores and have access to play with all the apps. Whether you like Shopify or not there is a team putting out incredible content aimed at designers and developers. There are incredible webinars with world class thoughts leaders. Every partner is assigned a rep whose sole purpose is to help them grow their business and take care of their clients. Partners have access to sales reps when handling larger merchants. Merchants have access to 24-hour phone support. From top to bottom I have seen nothing but a commitment to customers, partners and each other. It’s infectious. Slack channels are filled with meaningful collaboration and when their are wins the company is quick to say well done from the very top to the bottom. Sometimes you don’t realize how much you were craving change until you see things through a new lens.

Outside of some edge cases where merchants need heavy customization I do not see why anyone would not choose to run their store with Shopify. I’ve spent the past few weeks on the phone with companies and agencies around the world that are growing incredible businesses with Shopify. Shopify’s partner program is free to join and lets partners earn recurring revenue for sites they build.

So, it’s probably clear to see, I’ve landed on my feet, and I believe in the mission we’ve set out to accomplish. Shopify isn’t perfect but a few weeks in I feel valued, known and trusted. I’ve been given the tools and access I need to get out there and I couldn’t be more excited about the job that I get to do. Honestly I feel like the luckiest guy in the world to be able to lead Shopify’s efforts to partner with key companies in Europe, Middle East and Africa. So stay tuned — we are already working on some exciting things!