I'm the CEO and co-founder of Sift, the Digital Trust & Safety platform
I sent the following note to the Sift team today. I’m also sharing it here in case it’s useful to others.
Hey Sifties, in recognition of 9 years of Sift, I’m sharing 9 lessons learned, framed as a note to my younger self. Thank you for being a part of this wonderful journey. Sift on!
Focus on inputs, not outputs. There’s a lot that you don’t actually control. The sooner you accept this and understand what you actually do control, the more productive and happier you’ll be. You can’t always control what happens, but you do always control how you react to it.
Happy customers are your best salespeople. Focus on doing right by your customers and much will take care of itself. Your happy customers will champion your team and product with passion and credibility that can’t be beat. Your reputation in the market cannot be bought, it must be earned.
Your biggest obstacles will be within. Respect your competitors but don’t forget what really matters. Most of your challenges will have little to do with them, e.g. implementing the right processes and structure at the right time, building the right team and culture, and executing.
It’s more important to learn than to be right. Keep an open and curious mind. Interrupt less, listen more, and ask more questions. Surround yourself with people smarter than you and enjoy being wrong. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason.
Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind. (Brene Brown) Practice courage over comfort and speak honestly with compassion. Don’t shy away from healthy conflict. People deserve to know what you’re really thinking and feeling — it’s how you’d want them to treat you.
Enjoy the journey. “The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.” (Jonas Salk). “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” (Teddy Roosevelt)
The most important project is yourself. Investing in your mind, body, and spirit is the highest impact investment for your leadership at Sift and for your life in general. See a therapist. Work with an executive coach. Meditate, exercise, eat right.
Don’t take anything personally. Take pride in your work but don’t attach your identity to it. Investors will reject you. Customers will churn. Colleagues will leave for other companies. Don’t internalize your mistakes and failures. Learn and move on.
Gratitude is the attitude. It’s a privilege to do what you do — to be a healthy, educated male in America, building innovative solutions to meaningful problems with great people. Your concerns are first-world. Everything that happens is a blessing and opportunity — it’s up to you to decide how you use it.
Previously published at https://medium.com/@jasontan/nine-years-nine-lessons-21d3672baf24