Last year, I thought I had realized my lifelong professional dream when I launched my own consulting company to help entrepreneurs hire, retain, train, and love their people. Instead, I joined a start-up. Here’s why.
What was your answer to “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
When you started or finished school, what did you want to accomplish in life? Did you have a dream? A mission or vision? A hope? Why did you join your last company? Did you want to make money? To leave an impact?
When I was 12, I dreamt of building a school from the ground up so that I could work with children to inspire them to be kind little humans. I also toyed with the idea of becoming a therapist, wanting to help people find happiness.
With these ambitions, I thought I could change the world. But you don’t often get to — or discover that it doesn’t even make sense to — turn your childhood dreams into your life’s work. You can, however, always keep those ideals close to you. And you may find that your opportunity to change the world presents itself.
I did. And that’s how I ended up as the head of talent and people at MadKudu. Let me tell you why.
Most of us spend at least of a third of every weekday at work; that adds up to [13 years and two months of our life]. Relationships with our co-workers are indeed as important as our other relationships. If we all want to act with kindness, change things for the better, and live happier lives, we have to apply that approach to how we engage with our colleagues, too.
My mission is to do the best job I can of taking care of people at work.
MadKudu’s core business is intelligence: We help businesses leverage their own customer data to make smarter decisions by answering questions like, “Should sales talk to this lead?” Ultimately, our product is born out of a passion for people. We help companies build meaningful relationships with their customers by creating a more relevant buyer journey. Whether it’s our own people or our customers, we’re aiming to get the human part of running a company right.
I was struck by the culture this startup of about a dozen people was creating — one based on transparency, inclusion, and humility. And it was not for the sake of marketing or political correctness, but for an authentic desire to treat people well. I had discovered a company whose three co-founders’ genuine passion for people equaled my own.
I still remember MadKudu CEO and Co-Founder Sam Levan asking me during my interview, “Are you sure we’re the right place for you?” Unequivocally, yes. Even above forging my own business path.
Whether it’s implementing a global parental leave policy, diversity initiatives, or a useful peer-to-peer performance feedback tool, I can’t wait to build that from the ground up for our people — otherwise known as kudus — and evangelize about it to other companies.
All of this is not to say that no other company out there is like MadKudu. I sincerely hope there are others. But I want you to know that this kind of company — with its emphasis on valuing people and treating them with kindness — does exist. And I will do my best to make MadKudu the best example that I can.
I’ve always sought out jobs to put my mission into practice. I’ve approached every opportunity with the same hope of improving human relations in the workplace to enable growth and success. I’ve tried a lot of companies and have seen both good and bad models. I am also the president and founder of Talent Lab Today, a consortium in France to share HR best practices. I’m proud to be a part of it and to share the experience with our members. We discuss our goals, the future of our profession, and ways to foster more collaborative and compassionate work environments. I also love to volunteer to help others find their mission or coach them through a career change.
There are no job openings that I want to promote here and no brand message to convey. I just want to spread some hope and perhaps find some people out there who share a similar mindset about their mission at work and in life. Believe me, you don’t have to be a famous executive or politician to make this kind of difference — we all can.
Please feel free to reach out with any questions, and I would love to welcome you to our offices for coffee and to chat. We are based in Silicon Valley and in Paris, and travel back and forth between both locations frequently. We don’t bite, I promise.
Whatever your most cherished values, know and embrace them. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re too idealistic, too kind, too egalitarian, or too whatever. Find your cause and believe in it. Once you have, you can find the right people to work with and join the company they’re building or build something new together. And it only works in that order.
The right company is out there for you — I’m sure of it. Ask yourself: What mission am I on?
Admittedly, the notion of changing the world can be vague and overused (after all, who doesn’t want to change the world?). But I’ve been inching ever more closer to what it means for me.
I’m on a mission to change the world by taking care of people the right way at work, and I found my place to do it at MadKudu.