Two Years and Still Afloat

I came to Amazee Labs with a background in both startups and corporate business to help the company realize their vision of sustainable growth on its continued journey to become a leading global open-source web development agency. Seven weeks after starting my position, I became not only the CEO of Amazee Labs Zurich, but of our branches in Cape Town, London, and Austin. Or as I like to see it, the captain of our global fleet of ships. 

Every workday is different, with unique challenges and areas that need my attention. In addition to making sure everything is ship-shape, it’s my role to make sure the entire fleet is heading in the right direction at a sustainable speed while adjusting for changing conditions. Here are some of the most important things I’ve learned. 

Stock your larders

Just as I could never sail a group of boats alone, my role as CEO is often to give my savvy team everything they need to perform their roles and exercise their expertise, as well as making sure all our efforts are working towards our goals. Sometimes this might mean looking at the fleet as a whole, charting where we are and where we’re going, or jumping into a particular team to support, review and help out.

While speed and reaching your goals are important, managing a crew of twenty is different from managing a team of fifty, and creating the support and structure to grow is just as important as charting out your ideal path. 

Finding the right people is a huge part of determining where you can go ...

Challenges can be large and external, or small and internal and the two are often related. Adding a new client or project can be thought of as adding a destination to our voyage, and affects decisions such as the distribution of resources or hiring extra hands. Finding the right people is a huge part of determining where you can go, and this has been reflected in the past couple years by building out our management team to include both veteran sailors and fresh talent. I’m happy to report that today our teams are helmed by highly-skilled experts all over the world.

At university I learned an important lesson that’s proved true over and over again – there is always an unlimited amount of work to do and a limited amount of time to do it. So prioritization is key. My time, energy level, and my ability to stay passionate about our voyage are resources, and I must make certain those resources are kept in stock. All decisions, no matter how small or large, must be prioritized accordingly.

A great captain needs a great crew

When weighing all the variables of a complex system, there is nothing better than trusting your shipmates and crew. Having the right people in the right roles is invaluable, and being able to get their expert opinions enables a captain or CEO to maintain both the big picture and all the moving parts. I strive to treat everyone as an equal, to make sure everyone has a voice and everything they need to keep sailing. Sometimes decisions have to be made for the good of the entire fleet, and while that lies firmly on the shoulders of the captain, it’s important to always listen to the crew at large before evaluating and making a decision.

As simple as it sounds, the best strategy to garner useful information is to ask plenty of questions. Never be afraid to dive deep into a topic. Often, information that might seem obvious to a specific team might be obscured from a higher-up vantage point. Getting clarification on how things work and what challenges exist eliminates grey areas for everyone involved. This is always worth the captain’s time. When people understand each other’s processes and goals, they’re a more efficient, happy, and powerful team.

Anytime a group of people work together there will be mistakes or missteps. Learning curves for everyone, including me, is always ongoing. 

Trust your instincts

Sometimes you might have the time for evaluation, but often quick action is needed. At a certain point, when you’ve gathered as much information as you can, or when circumstances necessitate a choice, it’s imperative to trust your instincts – adjusting your course or strategy, knowing when to move on and when to delve in. These are moments when you have to take the lead and trust that you’re making the best decision you can with the information you have. 

Look back, aim forward

It’s easy to focus on the horizon but I’ve come to realize that looking back is just as important as looking forward. This is important not only to revisit and learn from the paths you’ve taken so far but also to celebrate successes, appreciate the people who helped achieve them and be grateful and present on the journey. I feel honoured to be celebrating new levels of success with my amazeeing colleagues as we set our sights on new destinations. 

If you'd like to talk to me about what I have learned, and how we can work with you on your next project, please get in touch.

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