“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.”
– Booker T. Washington
I’ve been working with another company that we may partner with as part of our new strategic direction. If we are going to partner with another services firm, we need to have a solid culture fit and a shared vision on how to best take care of clients. In speaking with the founder of this company, we were walking through his core values. To be honest, it was really nice to engage with someone who was like-minded in the sense that the values should drive the company and its culture. It is and has always been my goal that Tahzoo would be a mission-driven company that does good for the world and is also profitable. That’s why our mission is to build solutions that make millions of people a little bit happier every day.
I’ll paraphrase one of the values that resonated with me: “there are no passenger seats on the bus, everyone is a driver.” The point being that everyone is responsible to chart their own career trajectory, everyone is responsible for delivering great work, and everyone is responsible for the growth and profitability of the company. Those are the three legs of the stool for any successful company.
Charting your career – I’ve never waited or hoped to get promoted. I’ve always wanted to run a company, and I specifically sought out roles and responsibilities that I thought would further my professional development. I communicated my goals with each manager I’ve worked for and sought feedback from them on how best to achieve my goals. My relationship with my managers has always been more of a partnership than someone who is going to tell me what to do next. I would encourage each of you to be clear about what you want out of your career with your manager and leadership so we can help you achieve your goals. That is the whole reason I started Tahzoo; I wanted to build a company that helped people find the best versions of themselves. While you may or may not know what you want to be when you grow up, I’m sure you have some experiences and skills that you’d like to develop. Communicate and be intentional; no one can read your mind. Be a driver in your career, not the passenger.
Delivering great work – You know it when you see it and you know it when it’s subpar. We’ve all been working together for a long time. I know it when one of you doesn’t have your heart in the work. When I see that, it bums me out. Not just because it’s bad for business, not just because we are breaking our promise to our client, but because you’ve given up on yourself and your colleagues. You owe it to yourself and the people who come to work every day that are trying to make a difference and advance their careers to not be that person on the team who’s loafing. If you see something that isn’t up to our standards, then call it out. Take it up with whoever isn’t getting it done and if that doesn’t work, feel free to call Matt, Gabi, or me. There is no greater joy than seeing a team come together and do their best work. We all need a nudge from time to time, so be that person that makes everyone around you better. There are no passenger seats on the Tahzoo bus.
Growth and Profitability – When I worked at Nordstrom, it was important to beautifully wrap gifts in those Nordstrom boxes. Each piece of tissue paper that wraps around a blouse or shirt before it goes in the box costs about a penny. When I trained new people in the Nordstrom way, I explained this to them so they wouldn’t waste tissue paper; literally, I explained to them that every penny counts. The same thing is true at Tahzoo – every hour counts. When we miss our deadlines, hire outside contractors to do our work, or under burn on a project, we are throwing money away. If you’re on the bench, think about what can you be doing to find billable work, grow the company, or improve our quality. When the company is not growing and is not profitable, then there is no money for training, pay raises, or extra benefits. Each of us must focus on growth and profitability. It’s the cumulative impact of lots of little things that make the difference. Unfortunately, there has been a mindset with some people in the company that growth and profitability is a management problem. It is not. It’s everyone’s problem.
I was thrilled today to see our pitch for the branding work at Fujitsu. What a great win that would be for the company. However, what thrilled me even more today was that Shawn Webber stepped up and said he’d code a page so that Fujitsu could experience the interaction and movement of the design. Thank you, Shawn, for setting the example for what it takes to win business. Like I said on the call today, we win together and we lose together. There are no passenger seats on the Tahzoo bus.
I usually try to make my DOBs focused on uplifting and thoughtful messages. This one is more direct, and I am calling out some things that I see in the company that need to be improved. If you’re part of the solution, help me make the changes necessary for all of us to be successful. If you’re part of the problem, step up and be part of the solution or step out of the way so we can make room for someone who wants to be here. We have so much talent and opportunity at Tahzoo; let’s make the most of it, together. I want each of you to have a chapter or chapters in your career at Tahzoo that are the building blocks of your success. I look forward to chatting with all of you on Monday.
Let’s go be great!