Techstars APAC Summit 2018 Ashley and ladies embarrassingly dancing

I’d rather be “Employee #3” than CEO

I’m just not very good at having crazy ideas of my own. I’m passion-driven sure, but a lot of the things I fight for have already been started by others. As much as I try to think of something on my own, it’s often something that doesn’t last for very long in my commitments list.

Dave told me that I do have vision but I just “chose to specialize in operations because that’s what you’re best at.” And to that, I say thanks because it’s a compliment from my boss which means I won’t be unemployed soon.

Kidding aside, it’s been something I’ve been reflecting over the past few weeks. I’ve been in the startup community for about five years now and shouldn’t I be walking the talk? If I’m to help the existing and aspiring founders in our community, shouldn’t I be starting my own startup too and lead by example?

I saw this video during Halona’s session about self-care and self-love at the Techstars APAC Summit 2018 in Bangkok. While watching the video, I immediately knew who I was in the mass of bodies that slowly made their way to the topless dancing guy (yes, this sounds weird if you haven’t watched the video so please watch it).

I want to be that third or fourth crazy gal taking a risk and making a fool of herself along with a few others who are passionate about an idea or movement that we think is great.

So many times do I meet a startup founder who is having a hard time looking for a co-founder a.k.a. another crazy guy willing to dance topless with him. I want to be able to show to others that believing and supporting someone else to make an idea that isn’t even their own succeed, is still something that the community needs before we can start building meaningful teams and products.

I’m not a visionary, but I am kick-ass in establishing operations and keeping teams happy while doing it. How might my strength fill out someone else’s weakness? It took me a while to figure this out. I had to be critical of the startup I cared about and the people in it. I had to be critical of myself so I could find a meaningful place for myself in the company I wanted to make a difference in. After some thought and talking to my team, I worked it out and would like to think that the skills that I’ve been focusing on developing is helping push the company forward.

I also learned that if you’re an active employee of a startup, you’re not isolated from the challenges a startup founder can face. You still have to do field research on the product you’re building and receive critical feedback, you still have to help look for great people to hire, you still have to deal with company morale and making sure everyone in the company is rowing in the same direction. When team members take their roles to heart, their drive and commitment is just as important as the founder’s. Don’t you think that if a good enough number of people have this mindset, we’ll have more successful startups?

Will I one day start my own startup? Maybe. I don’t really know. But what I do know is I want to see the startup that I work for right now succeed. And if I can be a part of that success, I’ll give as much as my belief in our founders will let me. After three years (and counting), I know I’ve still got a hell of a lot to give.

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