The Best Job I Ever Had
Friends often ask me what it’s like to start a company, to which I usually respond “it’s a rollercoaster, with higher highs and lower lows than I’ve experienced in any other job, but ultimately the best job I’ve ever had.”
A lot of my energy and motivation comes from the phenomenal team we’ve built, and the amazing things they accomplish in propelling DataFox forward.
Here’s an example of an awesome day I had recently:
6:30–8:00am: prepare for the day
I love getting to the office early to prepare for the day ahead. Before meetings start, I read the Wall Street Journal, get my emails to inbox zero (really more like inbox ten), and write down the day’s priorities.
One-on-one with our newest sales rep, Eric. I was curious to hear his suggestions for what we could be doing differently as a company. What I love about his input is that it wasn’t just in relation to his job; he also had product and management suggestions. People like Eric (and all of our teammates are like this) join a young company like DataFox because they’re ambitious and they relish the opportunity to propel the whole company forward.
One-on-one with another sales rep, Brooks. Brooks has been crushing it at DataFox. We hadn’t had coffee together in a while, so we went on a walk. He too had great ideas for things we could do to ensure we hit our aggressive goals for 2017. Brooks needed no special motivation from me, he’s pumped about the great 2016 he had, and is incredibly self-motivated going into 2017.
9:00–9:30: “DataFox University”
I taught a session for our latest hire, Sarah. New hires at DataFox get two weeks of training on topics of all sorts, including how our customers use DataFox, how we use machine learning, and how we prioritize new features. Many topics aren’t directly related to their day-to-day, but help them understand important aspects of the business. This is also a great way for new hires to get to know their teammates. The session I taught was called “Customer deep-dive: what do private equity people actually do?”
I aggregated into one document all the goals each team (product, sales, marketing, customer success, ops) have set for Q1 2017. We’re using the “OKR” approach: Objectives and Key Results, a goal-setting methodology popularized by Intel and Google. This is the first time we’ve done this, and it’s been a great experience so far.
10:30–11:30am: meeting with Head of Sales and Head of Marketing
I met with Ben and Kaitlin to finalize our forecast for 2017. It’s exciting to see how aggressive the plan is that they and their teams have come up with.
11:30–12:00pm: team lunch
We get lunch catered every day. We all sit at one long table, and everyone shares a similar drive and ultimate goal, so it leads to lively, interdepartmental conversation.
12:00–1:00pm: founder meeting
Once a week I sit down with my co-founders to discuss strategic topics and hammer through administrative items. On the agenda this week: we discussed the details of an offer we’re about to make to a candidate, reviewed my proposed agenda for our next Board Meeting, and reviewed our Q1 OKRs (goals) to make sure our own priorities are represented.
1:30–2:00pm: call with a Director of Strategy at a Fortune 500 company
They’re organizing a conference in March where I’ll get to speak on a panel. We discussed the logistics and high-level topics for the panel.
My monthly catch-up with Stefan, from our marketing team. Stefan joined us straight out of undergrad just over a year ago and is a shining example of the impact smart, driven people can have at a startup like DataFox. We give him lots of autonomy, which he converts into incredible results. He’s climbed up the learning curve faster than I did working for a bigger institution at the start of my career
2:30–4:15pm: quarterly product planning session
Prioritizing new features for next quarter is one of the hardest parts of building a startup. There are just so many great things to build, but we are constantly running out of hands. Cyrus, our Product Manager, did a great job sitting down with each and every employee at DataFox, in groups of about 6–7, to collect ideas. He combined their input with insights from user analytics and customer feedback to organize all these ideas into the most important themes.
4:30–5:45pm: on-boarding demo
Our Customer Success Manager, Sean, gave a demonstration of a typical onboarding session for a brand new customer. Despite this being an optional meeting and late in the day, the room was full of teammates wanting to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of our new user experience.
6:00–6:30pm: quick run
My usual loop to Embarcadero and back. Time to reflect.
7:00–8:30pm: recruiting dinner
Dinner with my co-founder/CTO and an engineering candidate we’re looking to recruit. The best part was when we made him the offer and he accepted, but I also really enjoyed getting to know him — he was at one point one of the top five chess players in his age group in the US. I’m constantly astounded by the incredible talent we get to work with.
While the day-to-day at a startup can vary a lot, I’m constantly inspired by the team I work with. If a day like this sounds exciting, drop me a line!
We’re hiring across engineering, customer success, sales, marketing, and business development, and we’d love to work with other people looking to do the best work of their career.
For more notes on life at a startup, check out “Notes from the Startup Learning Curve”.