I thought it would be appropriate to write about the place where I spent the better part of the last decade.
Wattpad is an incredible system of impact. I’ve learned so much about the meaning of leadership and company building through my time there. Many of these lessons were learned the hard way, but I’m grateful Allen and Ivan created a company where we had space to do those things.
There are so many individuals to thank; those that know me know I prefer to say those in person. For everyone in the leadership team I worked so closely with, to the early product, design and growth teams, and most recently to Emily and the entire Tap team: thank you so, so much for the lessons you taught me. Here are some of the most important ones I’m carrying with me.
I learned that first and foremost, it’s about the people. Understand every individuals intrinsic motivations, and try to align them to what the company and their team is trying to do. When those two forces align, magic happens. Understand that every individual is on their own journey of personal growth, and that you have the the privelege of sharing a chapter of their career with them. Use that wisely to help them develop in all the ways they want to.
I’ve learned that individuals working together cohesively can create an unstoppable force. Individual flow is amazing, but team flow is almost magical. Understand that the relationships within an organization carry tremendous leverage; teach others to invest in them in order to get work done. Also, avoid zero sum team thinking. Reinforce the value of winning together; one team’s victory shouldn’t come at the expense of others, especially in small organizations.
I’ve learned about the value of craft. That craft isn’t relegated for just design or product; sales or community management or is just as much of a craft. How we become better craftspeople is by practicing good habits. The consistency that we practice these habits will defines how successful we will be.
I’ve learned so much about the dynamics of markets. More than anything, the value of a multi-year laser focus on a specific customer is a powerful way of creating massive market change. I’ve learned how much winning matters, but every victory carries a timeline. The world changes around us rapidly; we can’t ignore those changes so even the best strategy can only be successful for a certain amount of time.
One of the most valuable lessons has been that we have a higher responsibility as an organization, and especially as a software company with massive reach. We are accountable and responsible not just for our product, but for how it is used for good and bad. Wattpad has carried this ethos from early days when others were praying at the altar of growth at all costs. Understand that there are 2nd and 3rd order effects that we may not be able to predict but we still have to accept responsibility for. We also take responsibilty for our organization as a force of positive change, and know it has to be reflective of the diverse community we serve, and diverse group of individuals that choose to work here.
Here’s to a new decade and new adventures.