The new year has started. I have been wondering what it is about new year that makes it so exciting. Is it the promise of a fresh start that makes everyone so excited about it? Or a chance to forget about the mistakes, and the setbacks of the previous year? Either way, it's a good time to think about what is important to you, and act on it. I have been introspecting for a couple of months and I want to write about some themes and ideas that I would like to explore this year. These are ideas that relate more to my professional life, as an entrepreneur, and a CEO. I'll have something more to say about personal themes in another post.
Writing to think, and to decide
If I look back at some of the mistakes I have made, it's not the losses arising from them that I regret. It's not having given those decisions a fair thought. Or worse, not even realizing that those were important decisions worthy of more mindspace. Other times. I have been mindful that I am making an important decision but I am not able to collect my thoughts and make a well thought out decision. What is sometimes even more tiring is making a decision, and then second-guessing yourself for a long time, eventually forgetting why you even decided a certain way. Forgetting the reasons also reduces the chance of learning from the outcome of that decision.
Thinking well isn't easy, and certainly not to be taken for granted. It requires first a commitment to undertaking it, and then the discipline to allocating enough mindspace. Writing seems an indispensable tool for thinking well. Often, I am not able to separate the chatter in my mind, but writing almost always helps. It helps me see the bigger picture, and also reduces the stress associated with making a decision.
The same applies to learning new things as well. By writing down what I am learning, and thinking, I make the ideas stick. I see the gaps in my understanding. I notice my assumptions. I challenge myself. Often learning, and deciding go hand in hand. As a CEO, I am constantly thinking about things I haven't thought of before, and that means I need to learn about them quickly, and make a decision. And if it's something I have seen before, it helps to go back to my notes and rethink about them. That assumes that I keep notes as I learn and make decisions! :)
Defining my value system
Here is a good definition of value system -
A coherent set of values adopted and/or evolved by a person, organization, or society as a standard to guide its behavior in preferences in all situations.
I tend to think of a well-defined value system as something you can hold on to in times of turbulence. Perhaps because of my struggle with depression, I tend to lose mental clarity often and find myself in a dark place where I can't see clearly. The problem then isn't that I lack a value system, but that in these phases of depression, and confusion I can't recall it. I can't use it to bootstrap my state of mind back. By defining, and writing down my value system, I am hoping to mitigate that problem. Also, the act of writing it down, and revisiting it often will help me evolve my value system as I learn more about myself, and the world around me.
I have talked earlier about the importance of a self-image and I believe that a well-defined value system is a vital part of that self image. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to call it the foundation of that self image.
Cultivating a long term mindset
I have been pretty fortunate to work on some pretty exciting ideas, ahead of the curve. Both Muziboo, and SupportBee brought a new paradigm into the market. A decade later, both these ideas are pretty mainstream. However, I have been unable to execute them to market dominance. I have watched, as other teams have scaled up similar ideas. Naturally, these teams are led by very talented individuals, and I find them quite inspiring. Apart from their smarts, I notice that they are incredibly focused, and persistent. They think long term and they are able to bring the work of many contributors together.
Thinking long term changes how much you are willing to invest in your future, and how much you are swayed by fleeting challenges. Great things take time to build, and you need to manage your anxiety while you realize your vision of a better future. At work, customer relationships, a world-class team, a culture of constant improvement, and innovation all take time to build, and a lot of mindful practice.
Defining my role in SupportBee
I have gone back and forth on this several times. Like an old crutch, I often revert back to programming, though I haven't done any serious programming in SupportBee for about two years now. I have been dabbling with marketing, but in the last few months, it's become quite clear to me that I need to transition into the role of a CEO fully. I have a vague understanding of what that role is, but I want to flesh it out and embrace it. And then excel at it. Ofcourse, I am mindful that this isn't the first time I am attempting a transition but I am quite confident that this time I'll do better than the last time!
I'll have more to write about it in a future post, but my current understanding is that it involves working on defining the culture of SupportBee, fleshing out a good roadmap, and then focusing on building a great team. All of these are perpetual jobs with no finish line, and they all feed into each other. Finally, I need to (and want to) be a better leader, which brings me to the final point:
Understanding my leadership style/philosophy
I have been an excellent individual contributor, and I have usually led by example. However, I know that I can do much better. I know this because there are plenty of great leaders out there - in business, politics, and charity. I believe that they are great leaders because they understand their people, and help them achieve their potential. They are also constantly curious and learning more, often actively seeking mentorship from others. I would like to spend time consciously this year on learning about leadership, and practicing it. I have skimmed through a few good books on the subject, and I'd like to go back to them and read them more thoroughly and find ways to use what I have learned. I also want to reach out for mentorship from people I respect, and trust.
I hope that by writing all this down, I can use this post as a guiding light to channel my efforts this year. I'll be writing more about what I learn over the throughout the year. Happy New Year!