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🌞 Earlywork #45: The Missing Ingredient in Your Job Description
Featuring a guest piece by Yaniv Bernstein (Advisor & Executive Coach + ex-COO @ Airtasker) + roles from Steppen & Performl + a One Minute Hustle with Pia Campagna (Co-Founder @ HelpMate)
Ello ello Earlyworkers!
Flown via drone and dropped in your inbox today is Earlywork #45, a careers newsletter providing free weekly career resources, news, jobs & real-world career stories for young Aussies & Kiwis in the tech, startup & social impact landscape.
If you’re not already part of the crew, subscribe now to keep a pulse on our latest stories and conversations:
💡Weekly Cheeky Tip
Whenever you apply for a job, you might be told you’ll be responsible for leading certain projects, or running certain marketing campaigns, or building features for a certain use case.
And accordingly, one would expect your performance would be measured by.
But whether you’re an engineer, product manager, designer, salesperson, marketer or recruiter, there’s one responsibility often missing that you will ALWAYS be measured on, whether explicitly or implicitly.
Not just on your immediate responsibilities, but your team, company, customers, and stakeholders beyond.
That’s why, looking beyond your immediate projects, it’s worth zooming out on the scope of what success looks like.
When I recently asked my new manager, Venki Vellingiri, what I could do to amplify my impact as a product manager, he gave me a simple but powerful tip:
“Think two levels up.”
Not just how your success is measured.
Not just how your manager’s success is measured.
But how is your manager’s manager’s success measured?
If you can understand that, you can adjust how you prioritise your work towards a greater picture of success, and ultimately, greater impact.
But look, I’m a goober and still early in my journey. Does taking a consciously impact-oriented lens as a junior really change your career trajectory beyond just smashing your core responsibilities?
He shared his amazing story going from Google software engineer to COO of a top Aussie startup (Airtasker), and how even as an engineer, thinking about customer and company impact accelerated his career:
“I began my career at Google. My first few years there were fairly successful and after 3 or 4 years on the job I thought I knew most of what there was to know about being a software engineer.
Around this time, Google released a new model for assessing performance for their engineering team, and it was very simple. The only three criteria on which we would be judged were:
The technical difficulty of the work we were doing. ⚙️
Our leadership skills. 💪
The impact that our work had: on the world, on our users, on our business, and on our colleagues. 🌏
I was outraged by the third one. 🤬
How is it fair to assess my performance as an engineer on factors that were beyond my control?
It wasn't my job to decide what to build.
It wasn't my job to decide how to go to market.
That was a product manager's job, the marketers job.
My job was to take what they said to build and to build it well. That was what I should be assessed on.
In fact, I was so outraged that I wrote an internal blog post entitled “Impact Considered Harmful” in which I talked about why this change was so unfair and unreasonable.
In fact, I even had an illustration of a giant asteroid hitting the earth to demonstrate quite how harmful impact could be! I thought I was pretty clever, and that my argument was pretty solid. ☄️
But then I cooled down, got to talking with a senior colleague of mine, and he flipped things around for me. I was looking at it all wrong. This wasn't an unfair and capricious judgment based on things that were beyond our control.No. In fact, it was an invitation. More than an invitation: it was a demand.
It was a demand that as an engineer we care about more than just building good software, because software should never be an end in itself. We were being told directly, you are going to be evaluated based on the actual impact of the work you do because ultimately, that is what really matters.
And the beautiful thing about it is that by making impact a part of our official assessment criteria, it became part of our job description. 🤯
That was actually incredibly empowering. Once I took on board that it was my job as an engineer to actually deliver impact, provide value, then I became a lot more engaged with my cross-functional partners.
I no longer saw it just as my job to do what my product manager told me or what my marketer told me. Instead, I understood that it was my job to partner with them, to respectfully challenge them, and to work together to deliver that impact, which I would ultimately be judged on.
I asked a lot of questions. I challenged assumptions. I insisted on understanding our underlying motivations. I suggested alternative ways of doing things.
A lot of what I spent my time thinking about would not have been considered software engineering at all by conventional standards. At all times, my eyes were fixed on the horizon of delivering impact. Everything I did was focused on maximum impact for minimum effort. 📈
At first, I was worried that my new empowered attitude to my job would mark me as a troublemaker. And I'm sure some people did feel that way!
But overwhelmingly, my increased engagement and attention to the big picture that resulted from my focus on driving impact was well received.
For most people, it made me a more valuable and collaborative peer and colleague. Increasingly, people wanted to work with me because my perspective on my job led to better outcomes for the work for the entire team.
Maintaining a laser focus on impact changed things profoundly for me as a professional. It is something that has driven my career for more than 15 years, and continues to do.
Everything I do, I judge by its ability to create impact.
I come from an engineering background and this story is about engineering. But the lessons to be learned apply far more broadly than just engineering.
Zoom out enough, and every job at every business is about delivering impact.
As an early career professional, you can rapidly increase your value to your employer by orienting yourself and defining your role in that way.
No matter your role, the behaviours it drives - collaboration, intense curiosity, respectful conflict, and a sense of urgency - serve to simultaneously increase your current value and accelerate your growth.”
If you’re keen to follow more of Yaniv’s awesome content on the intersection of engineering & leadership, check out his newsletter People Engineering below:
What content would you like us to cover next? Anything we missed? Keen to share your own Weekly Cheeky Tip?
🌏 Earlywork Community
🐝 The Buzz
What’s been happening in the community?
We ran the inaugural edition of Earlypitch, our pitch night for early-stage startups from early-career founders. Join the #earlypitch channel in the Slack community if you’re keen to pitch or watch pitches from tomorrow’s unicorns 😉
Startmate currently has open applications for its Accelerator Program, investing $120,000 into founders across all industries and stages for a 13-week customised program combined with access to the Startmate network for mentorship, hiring and fundraising.
Earlywork Community Members Michelle Li & Vicky Hu recently launched NOVU, a paint & craft kit eCommerce startup
Earlywork Community Member Misha Cajic recently launched Avarni’s climate search engine on Product Hunt. Search any country or company in the world and receive real-time analysis on their carbon strategies and net-zero targets.
📚 Trending Topics
Our favourite reads and resources being discussed in the Earlywork community
Chris Dixon: Climbing the wrong hill
Legendary piece on the risks of optimising too early for a certain career path in your career.
High Flyers Podcast: Different things w Nick Crocker
📈 Ecosystem Exclusive: Wall St Rank
“During the pandemic, I saw a lot of my friends and family joining the wave of new investors participating in the stock market.
Due to their inexperience and unfamiliarity with the subject, they relied on YouTube to learn from 'experts' and ended up losing money.
As a way to combat the misinformation, I built Wall St Rank, which ranks stock ideas vetted by analysts on Wall Street (actual sector specific experts).
I’m offering a free month of Wall St Rank Premium for the Earlywork community: use code ERLYWRK1M to redeem.
Disclaimer: Earlywork received monetary compensation for this content partnership.
If you’re building something making a positive dent on the planet that’s relevant to a young, ambitious audience, contact us here to team up!
🔎 Gigs Spotlight
⚙ Full Stack Developer @ Steppen (Melbourne / Remote 🌍)
Steppen is a social fitness app built for Gen Z, helping solve the solve the problem of finding time to work out.
They've consistently ranked in the top 20 on the Apple Health and Fitness Charts in Australia, and count Anthony Eisen (Afterpay Co-Founder) among their investors.
They're looking for a full stack developer with an eagerness to join the startup world and experience building mobile applications in Node JS and React Native, who will work closely with the CTO.
⚙️ Analyst Developer @ Performl (Sydney / Remote 🌍)
Performl are democratising the performance tools that social impact organisations need to excel.
As a Pledge 1% firm, they direct 1% of their product, profit, equity and employee time to social impact causes.
They're looking for an Analyst Developer who thrives at the intersection of software engineering and data analytics.
Apply for legendary roles like these & more at 👉 earlywork.co/gigs
Disclaimer: Earlywork received monetary compensation for the roles featured in this section.
1️⃣ 🕐 💪 One Minute Hustle
We are back once again with One Minute Hustle, a bite-sized interview with an emerging Australian young startup founder or operator.
This week, let’s get inside the noggin of a young founder is changing a fundamental flaw in how we think about dementia care…
Pia Campagna, Co-Founder @ HelpMate
⚙️ What are you working on?
After a diagnosis, people with dementia and their carers - often loved ones - are left alone to navigate their journey with little to no education and support.
Unfortunately, this leads to restrictive care for the person with dementia, limiting their independence and quality of life.
HelpMate is a post-diagnosis platform that holds carers’ hands throughout this journey.
Through reablement - cognitive, physical, and social rehabilitation - and continuous feedback loops, our platform empowers carers to help people with dementia stay independent for longer and continue living the life they want.
🌱 How’d you get started?
Everyone in our team came from Startmate’s student fellowship! We teamed up for MYMI (Monash Young MedTech Innovators)’s 2021 MedHack contest, where we came up with HelpMate and won the competition.
Since then, we’ve been speaking to people with dementia, carers, occupational therapists and geriatricians to further validate our idea and prepare for product testing.
🤔 Why do you do what you do?
We’re a mission-driven team. Dementia is a disease that’s close to our hearts. We’ve experienced the grief of losing someone while they’re still with us and want to do something about it.
There is robust evidence that reablement care improves outcomes and quality of life for people with dementia, yet post-diagnosis guidance and tools for carers who enable this type of care is lacking.
Currently, dementia care is reactive.
Our mission is to make it proactive.
Keen to share your story, or know a young startup founder or operator we should feature next?
Share your deets and we’ll get in touch!
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Ciao for now,