Though my demeanor is often like old man Carl Fredricksen's from the movie Up, I have to admit that I’m still young. And with youth, comes inexperience. In my case, it particularly shows in the areas of office culture and politics.
My first “real” job out of college was at a mid-size startup in a pre-sales engineering role, where I demoed our solutions and ran configuration calls for prospects. A year and a half later, I transitioned into a marketing role where I first got my feet wet in the fun stuff - traveling for events, having a real impact on the direction of our products - and the not so fun stuff - politics, egos, and passive aggressive peers.
I was told that I would have to learn how to fight my battles. I was told to rear up and be ready to argue for what I truly believed was right. It wasn’t always going to be the reasoning behind my argument that would be heard, but the volume of my voice.
I thought this was part of an “adult” job. I thought this was normal.
I didn’t learn what should be normal until I got to mabl.
As part of my interview process for product marketing manager, I was invited to come crash the weekly team meeting, which is a relatively quick sync-up and summary of the week, followed by food, drink and games. A week later I returned for a formal 2-hour onsite interview.
First, I’ll go ahead and put on record that I am a terrible interviewer at all stages of the interview process. I get quiet and nervous, I jumble my words, and I don’t always ask great questions.
But the atmosphere at mabl was different. Everyone was relaxed, personable and tight knit. I didn’t feel like I was being sized up, but like I was already a colleague and they were just getting to know me.
At the onsite interview, there were several mentions about how the bar is never lowered for any role they are hiring for, no matter how long it takes to find the right fit. According to my interviewing track record, that statement should have intimidated me, but instead I felt like they were really evaluating me as an equal.
On my first day, I sat in on the first sprint planning meeting of the year. As the team worked through priorities, I noticed that everyone had a slow, purposeful, mild, and direct way of speaking. Rebuttals led to more insightful discussion. Doubts were openly explored by the team and resolved in an incredibly effective manner. Interestingly, Positivity is the first of 3 core values at mabl. In the boardroom, this seemed to be the team’s driver for hearing out all ideas without shooting them down. The second value, Insight, was also very present as everyone took the time to fully discuss and understand the ideas in the same depth that you would feel your own ideas deserved.
This was fascinating to me.
A week later I had a team meeting where we discussed one of the first projects I was working on. I saw a newly added comment in the Google doc from someone outside of the project who suggested a different angle; one that I didn’t agree with.
Like muscle memory, I began to raise my voice and explained (with an admittedly negative tone) why that suggestion was unacceptably out of scope for the project. I was ready to fight. My arms were in the air. I had to save this project from this horrible personal offense.
After I went on for probably way too long, I was finally told: “Chou, I don’t think they’re trying to change the entire project.” (What I heard was: “Chou, you need to chill out.”)
And that’s when it finally dawned on me; people at mabl are actually… nice. They offered suggestions, not to insert their dominance or needlessly sabotage an idea in its infancy, but to genuinely help the progression towards our united vision. And this collaborative nature at mabl seals its third value, Drive.
From the team meeting I had crashed pre-hiring, to the sprint planning meeting, to the day-to-day collaborative efforts, I witnessed mabl employees leave their egos at the door and actively practice mabl’s core values: Positivity, Insight, and Drive.
I sheepishly put my arms down, and for the rest of the day, defragged my brain to let those core values take their proper place in my own core.
I finally understand that “adulthood” in the working world doesn’t mean you have the most puffed up chest. It actually means that you continuously practice humility and respect. And I can’t wait to see what else I’ll learn while I’m here.
If our core values sound good to you, we’re hiring!