Today marked my three year anniversary at Fitbit. It definitely feels a lot longer than that given how much growth we experienced as a company, how much we achieved as a health and wellness category, and how much I got a chance to experience in this amazing company.
I’m proud to witness eleven Fitbit product launches, and within my team built some of the best experiences Fitbit delivers (including all the sleep offerings and reminders to move) to its millions of customers. Thanks to my awesome team and everyone else across our organization who made these possible.
When I reflect back on this amazing journey a few things stand out for me as learnings. I frequently share these in many discussions with friends, with those who ask me for career advice, or in my talks. I decided to officially put them on paper for a couple of reasons:
- To help my readers better navigate their careers as they apply some of these learnings
- To show my appreciation to my colleagues at Fitbit, who made this ride so exceptional, and to the various people in this company who helped me grow as an individual and as a leader
Here are 5 things I found to be the key to success and satisfaction at work:
1. People: At the end of the day, your work experience is all about people you work with. They are the ones helping you solve the most difficult problems you face or adding to your problems. I’ve been blessed that Fitbit is famous for having extremely talented yet collaborative people. Working with great people made my experience quite pleasant at Fitbit. Also, the team I’ve led, has always had the reputation of being one of the most outperforming and tightest teams at Fitbit. This made my day-to-day so rewarding and fun. Our commitment to each other and to our work equipped us to go through many challenges and come out of them successfully. Thanks to all of my team-members and others I interact with frequently who made this journey so rewarding.
As you make career choices, make sure you chose a work environment that matches your personality. Also, try to surround yourself with awesome people at work (and outside of work). If you are managing people and building teams, please ensure to care about your people above and beyond anything. Your people are your biggest assets and the key to deliver the best products and to build the most successful businesses.
2. Passion: The reason I wake up everyday being excited going to work at Fitbit is that I fundamentally care about what I’m working on. I truly believe our work translates into helping people make better and healthier choices.
My recommendation is that you try to find a job that you are passionate about or develop passion for your current job (and yes you can cultivate passion if you want to and put your mind into it).
3. Mentorship: I’ve always had mentors whom I looked up to in my career and sought personal and professional advices from. I’m forever grateful for what my mentors offered me through my career.
What’s interesting is that most of my mentors have been male — in exception to two outstanding female mentors I had — and they were always outside of the firms I worked at until just recently. At Fitbit, pretty early on, I was able to closely connect with one of our rockstar female leaders. Eventually she and I formed an informal mentor/mentee relationship. Her energy, the way she approaches problems, and her awesome balance as an executive and a Mom inspires me every day.
My advice for everyone out there, particularly women, is to try to find mentors that you can relate to and look up to in your career. Having a mentor is like having a sounding board. The person is there to answer some of your toughest questions and guide you through turning points of your career while they typically have over a decade more experience than you do and sitting on a different vantage point.
4. Supporters: Overtime at Fitbit as I delivered my commitments, I established trust and respect with many of my colleagues and executives. These people became my supporters and partners. Now, we work closely together to push initiatives forward, to solve issues, and to deliver outcomes. I can’t imagine anyone feel successful day-to-day at their work, without the support and collaboration of their colleagues. I highly recommend that you navigate your organization and your stream of work to establish strong ties with your partners and stakeholders early on.
5. Merit-based environment: One of the most important things that kept me happy at Fitbit is that it’s a merit-based culture and every opinion matters. This comes down from our Founders. I’ve had the privilege of interacting with both of them closely. They both are very open to new ideas and approaches if you can back up your case with data. This is super important, particularly for a Silicon Valley based company.
You can only deliver the best if you listen to all the ideas in the room and ensure you pick the best ones. You want to empower your teams to express themselves and give them the sense that their opinions matter. I always encourage my team-members to stand for what’s right (and back it up by data), even if that means going against the norm and what everyone expects to hear.
I hope everyone can find an environment and culture that they can flourish at.
Please share your career experiences (good or bad) and tell others what worked (or didn’t) for you. I’m sure we all can learn a lot from each other’s experiences.
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