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The Signal Experience – 3 Month Mark

Achoo!

Man, there is so much dust on this blog it's stirring up all kinds of allergic reactions.  The cobwebs are pretty nasty too…

Anyway, figured it was high time to offer an update on my life here at Signal, three months post-CV.  There is no question – it's been quite the roller coaster ride.  Perhaps even more than anticipated, and I certainly expected to have my world rocked.  Here are some notable observations and experiences:

  • I work with some amazing people.  I'll be honest – I'm pretty used to being just about the smartest person in most every room I've been in throughout my career.  Even when I wasn't even remotely the most experienced mind, I was probably the sharpest, and that has perhaps been my saving grace (no pun intended) in many, many situations.  At Signal, I rarely have this experience.  I'm in school, and team Signal are my teachers.  While I certainly bring my expertise to the table and have found many ways to add value to the business in these short three months, I have learned more than I've added.  I love that.
  • Building a business is insanely hard.  There's really no roadmap.  Jeff & Chris have done an amazing job taking this company to it's current state (strong YOY revenue growth, terrific product & team), but they've lost a few pounds of flesh in the process.  Now that the leadership has grown beyond the co-founders, we all take on the burden of ensuring our decisions regarding product focus, sales strategies, expenses and talent keep the momentum going.  And that takes it's toll.  I know we're right more often than we're wrong, but that's of little solace.  You question yourself at every turn.  The health of the business, and people's livelihoods, are on the line.  It's exhilarating and exhausting.  Sure, I made countless decisions in other gigs that certainly impacted those businesses bottom line, but the sense of urgency was never so acute.  Everyone should have this experience.  It will fundamentally change how you approach every job you'll ever have, whether it be starting your own company or working at Humungo-soft.
  • Great leadership is the difference between success and failure – period.  And it's all too rare.  The lack of great leadership is masked in so many organizations that have 1) gotten lucky or 2) have engaged in herculean efforts to survive without it.  Even rarer than being a great leader – the ability to recognize that you aren't one.  Too little of one and too much of the other will kill your business.  This seems like common sense, and it is when you think about it in the abstract, but the real trick is understand where you stand in real time and take the action needed to ensure you don't have a leadership vacuum.
  • Work takes on a new form when it is bullshit free.  Every job I've ever had carried with it a healthy amount of bullshit related to areas such as HR, internal politics and dead weight (you know, those people).  This is the cost of doing business at Humungo-soft and NotSoHumungoButPrettyBig-soft.  I can honestly say those issues just don't exist at Signal.  We certainly have our own drama (see bullet #2), but none of it is a bullshit waste of time like these other issues that plague larger companies.  The real benefit here is that we all get to be ourselves, no "work persona" you put on every day when settle into your cubicle.  It's a breath of fresh air.
  • I know myself much better now.  Stepping out of my comfort zone has revealed a lot about both my character and my professional goals.  I know what products I want to build and how I want them to impact the world.  I've been humbled (in areas I really needed to be).  I have a better sense for the sorts of people I want to go to war with and that ones I want on the other side of my bayonet.  That's a pretty productive 3 months.
So, did I make the right call?  So far, my magic 8 ball is saying "Outlook Is Good."  I still miss my CV friends and sometimes have the itch to finish what I started there, but I know that's only nostalgia taking over.  

My place is here, in the bullshit-free zone, with the collective geekery that is Team Signal.  Now excuse me while I breathe into this bag – the next panic attack re: the latest earth-moving decision we're making is coming on 🙂

TG

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