Even though I had never worked at a tech startup, or any other startup for that matter, I knew that if I accepted this position as the Marketing Manager, I was in for a ride.
Living in the heart of Tel-Aviv, you can’t help but have friends who are in the field, trying to make the next big exit. You also witness them working crazy overtime. Believe it or not, I was excited about the idea of joining the club (and I still am).
When I came in for my interview, the first person I met, was the BizDev guy and he was the brilliant character who eventually wasted no time in hiring me. The CEO, although 23 years young, was just as inspiring when I met him, too. He’s the type of determined Israeli, who sets the highest goals and, not only reaches them, but he does it the best–and will encourage everyone around him to do the same. So it was no wonder that when I met the R&D team building the product, he chose an unstoppable bunch and had them fully equipt. The CTO leading the team is just as impressive, known to be one of the best programmers in Israel among other things. Moreover, the more that I learned about the product, the more I understood that this widget has the full potential to revolutionize the way digital publishers engage with their online community within their site forever and is about to change the way people all over the world will socialize as they surf the net. With their offices located in the hot bed of Startup Nation, surrounded by a brilliant network of support, one couldn’t ask to be apart of a better killer startup. And even though the stats are against them, I was in!
At the same time that this position came up, I was also offered another position with a significantly higher paying salary, at a well established hi-tech company, with lower demands, and normal working hours. Just to add a little background, my previous job was at an established IT security company. It was my first professional marketing gig, and it lasted nearly 2 years. I learned a lot in the first 6 months, but there was no room to grow, and the mundaneness of it all was making my life miserable. As cool as our product was, for a spicy, creative, hyperactive social bug like me, IT security became boring real fast. However, I found myself having to remind myself constantly to appreciate what I had. But to put myself back into a corporate world that is so boring just for the sake of stability and security? Hmmm…let me think about this one…
The Real Life at a Startup
And so begins my new adventure. From day one to day 30, INCLUDING weekends, there has not been a day that I did not work a minimum of 10 hours. The crazy thing is that I actually enjoyed it. I’m growing by leaps and bounds. I’m meeting interesting people and learning valuable information left and right.
I won’t lie, though. The amount of information and tasks that I have been learning, absorbing, processing, organizing, prioritizing and executing has been overwhelming. My first two weeks, I was just starting to learn and understand the product, let alone start putting together the marketing plan. I wasn’t used to the amount of emails I’d get throughout the day–all of which were completely relevant to my to-do list. Luckily, I knew that this would happen, so right off the bat, any file or email that I got, I immediately tagged it. Staying organized really helps you stay on top of your game.
Furthermore, I couldn’t have handled my first 30 days any better without the help and guidance of my dear friends Rahav Harari, Dave Rogers, Lior Weinstein, Avishai Bitton, and Uri Tagger. How I have access to the best in their field, I’ll have to chalk that up to karma. Each one of these pros have been super supportive and insightful into giving me the best professional advice anybody could ask for, steering me in the right direction every time I was faced with a new challenge.
12 Lessons Learned
With that said, I’d like to offer 12 helpful, yet often forgotten, reminders that may help you not only with your first 30 days at a startup, but in general.
1) Leave your egos at the door and get comfortable with the idea that things are going to get uncomfortable.
2) You do not know everything, so listen. And remember that sometimes it’s better to be smart, not right.
3) Look out for your co-workers. You’re a team, and their success becomes yours. (Anyway, it’s good karma, so if you can help, do it from a good place. Do it because you can and because you want to.)
4) Stay FOCUSED. I am pretty sure I have ADD (with about 59 Chrome tabs opened as I’m writing this), so this has got to be one of the biggest challenges for me. No time can be wasted. Often times, I can catch myself trying to multitask, but things don’t get done that way. Do one thing at a time, starting with the hardest task first. If that doesn’t work for you, find something that does…and fast. For example, put on some headphones, listen to music without words, set a timer on, work for a solid hour or so, and then step away from the computer and take a break.
5) Stay organized.
6)Don’t forget to eat! When you do, eat clean and healthy. Stay away from processed foods and drinks with carbs as much as possible. A good diet can help you not only stay healthy, which is the most important thing in life, but also help you stay focused and energized throughout the day.
6) Surround yourself with inspiring, motivating, supportive, successful, good people. Don’t be dragged down by friends who suck the energy out of you. You don’t have time for that.
8) Meditate every day for at least 10 minutes.
9) Brace yourself. You will be faced with all types of challenges–some familiar, some new. When they surface, recognize that this is your test and say to yourself, “Challenge accepted.” Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned here, so try to approach the challenge differently than you normally would. Rise up to the occasion and do the best. Notice that I said “the best,” and not “your best.” Big difference. Nobody can beat the best.
10) Be flexible like a yogi in lotus. In a lean startup, the team is small, so you’ll have to wear many hats, including the ones that don’t fit under your job title.
11) Find yourself someone that you trust to clean your house ASAP. You’re not going to have time to do it, so outsource. Coming home to a clean environment and a made bed is worth it and will make all the difference in a good night’s sleep.
12) Do whatever it takes to get a good night’s sleep. Be sure to give yourself enough time to be rested so that you can function well the next day.
In conclusion, my first 30 days working at a startup has been a lot of fun, and I couldn’t have been happier with my decision. I highly recommend it for those of you are up for a serious challenge and have a strong desire to push yourselves to the limit. Determination and savviness is vital. Good luck!
What suggestions can you add to my list?