How well do you know yourself? If I were to ask you what matters most, could you answer clearly and definitively? Better yet, can you say that what you are doing on a daily basis is taking you closer to where you want to be?
These aren’t easy questions, and kudos to you if you answered ‘yes’ to both. On the other hand, if this exercise was harder than you expected, don’t worry – most of us are somewhere in between. Plus, there’s always room for growth.
In my case, it’s been 16 years since I started my career as a software engineer, and in many ways it feels like I’m just getting started. As I’m rounding the corner towards my 40s, I feel re-invigorated and more focused than ever. In this article, I’d like to share some of the moments from my journey at Red Ventures that have impacted me most – and some tips I’ve picked up along the way.
Be humble and give it everything you’ve got
When I joined Red Ventures in October of 2018, I was part of a group of 40 with a mission to transform the economic and technological landscape of Puerto Rico.
Onboarding was intense, and expectations were established early: if we put in the absolute maximum effort, we’d grow more as professionals within a matter of 12-18 months than most people do in 3-5 years. Sounds impossible right?! Well, we are just over a year in, and I can honestly say that (although I’ve got a bruise or two), the growth is undeniable.
Nowhere else have I been part of a culture where everyone – from the most junior teammate who just graduated college, to the most senior board member; yes, even the CEO – is actively seeking to build connections and help one another.
Seek (and embrace) feedback
I recently participated in a training program that quite literally flips the traditional model of leadership upside-down. Many companies are overly concerned with procedure and structure at the expense of efficiency – sometimes even common sense. Here, we believe that everything is written in pencil. That means a manager’s most critical function is not to uphold hierarchy, but to empower his/her team by breaking down barriers and facilitating the flow of ideas.
It is our responsibility to challenge ourselves, each other, and the organization.
There are many people here that I have drawn inspiration from, and I’ve been fortunate to have mentors and teammates share direct, honest feedback about my performance. I do my best to take it in and adjust accordingly. It takes time and it’s not always easy – actually it is seldom so – but it feels great to give it your all and see how the ripple effects impact your team. Formulate a plan, be strategic but do not overthink it. Develop the mindset to make decisions, to take initiatives, and overcome the fear of failure or disgrace. If all does not go well, at least you’ve opened doors that you may not have dared to cross otherwise.
Pay it forward
Here at RV, many people live by the motto that what goes around comes around (all the way back around..)
Seriously though, the work by RV’s Social Impact team is changing lives, and it feels amazing to be part of their mission. In addition to Red Ventures-incubated programs (LifeSports, Road 2 Hire, Golden Door Scholars) that are helping close the opportunity gap here in Charlotte, RV also has a community involvement program that provides extra support for specific causes our employees are passionate about.
One of the most memorable moments during my time here was made possible by this program – specifically, in partnership with Project Scientist, an academy that helps young girls get exposure to science, technology, engineering, and math. This summer, we volunteered to host nearly 100 girls (aged 5-9) for a full day on campus participating in STEM activities.
One of those activities was set up to help the girls learn how to decode binary digits, then decipher hidden words. I clearly remember noticing how Zoe (a cheerful 7-year old that reminded me of my own daughter) became frustrated and withdrawn when she couldn’t solve the problem. Together, we tried looking for creative solutions. After a little while, she had a breakthrough – it was almost as if a lightbulb flipped on in her head. The whole exercise became so clear that after a few reps, she became the fastest decoder of the group. Literally – she quickly ran out of words to decode, so we had to make up new, more challenging ones on the fly.
Her confidence grew with every new word she conquered, and she even started to teach her teammates. I can’t help but wonder how much better the world would be if we learned to be more patient and to take better care of each other.
The Forward787 team will be setting up shop in Puerto Rico by year’s end, and at the core of our mission is the positive impact we intend to have on the island. We’re excited, motivated, capable, and eager to start the next chapter.
This past year at Red Ventures has taught me that if you take the time to reflect on what makes you happy and passionately pursue whatever it is with fearless determination, you will conquer whatever comes your way.
Never stop fighting for what you believe to be true and worthy.
Stay tuned for more updates from RV Puerto Rico here on the INSPIRED blog – and learn more about the Forward787 mission on our website.