Reflections of a Former Growth Pilot and Company Culture

“If your employees leave, they should feel like they’re leaving behind a family.”

Call me a lucky guy.

I’ve had the great fortune of having loved every company I have served alongside with. It was no different for my most recent venture, Growth Pilots.

Parting ways with my companies has never been easy for me. I don’t know what’s worse: this or getting my limbs chopped off. Not joking. I mean, who the hell am I without my morning routine of checking for client emails and work fires first thing upon waking up? (*sigh* first world problems…)

But I take it all as good signs. It means I give a damn about my work. (or I need to seek help)

When I give my notice of soon to leave, my train of thoughts never steer in the direction of how can I ninja out of here fast and clean while doing as little work as possible. No. My biggest concerns have always and will always be for my team and clients. My thoughts tend to steer more towards questions such as: what should I tell my clients, who will take over my accounts, did I document all my work clearly enough? And can we still be friends!? *gasp*

It’s tempting to surf slickdeals, take longer lunch breaks, shuffle paper around, and tap my pencil until it erodes. Fortunately, I’m lazy, and I find it takes more work to be mediocre than to give it my all (#champagneproblems) (though, I’m sure I can find witnesses that can disagree with this).

Moreover, being lazy before the finish is outright boring. Ever seen a proud athlete walk across the finish line? Hell no, and I don’t plan to start. I’m sprinting across that damn finish line.

Leaving a company you love is comparable to breaking up.

I’d bet my paycheck that you spend way more time at the office than you do at home barring sleep (unless you’ve had your fair share of sleeping at the office too). Is it encouraged? Definitely not. Does it happen? More often than not. If you’re anything like me, you probably love it as much as I do! (mr. lonely much…) Like any breakup, clean or not, time is necessary to build a bridge and get over it.

Don’t tell me no one gets short episodes of anxiety and depression after they leave their awesome companies! Maybe it’s just me then.

Call me a sucker, but at least I’m a lucky sucker. And happily, I’ll be a sucker for great companies and the chance to do great work.

Based on my track record, so far so good.

A litmus test for good culture is how your employees feel when they leave, if they choose to leave at all.

The introductory quote above arose amidst conversation about company culture with friends who hold leadership positions. If your employees feel like they’re leaving family when they do choose to leave, that’s a vote of confidence for great company culture. Richard Branson can vouch for this as well: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

Overall, it’s an effective and telling litmus test.

In honor of my most recent work family coupled with my creative pursuits for writing and self-expression, I have created blog headlines for each of my teammates based on our random discussions or observations. (Some might be made up, but indulge with me) (@Daniel, I am also working on a dance for each individual as well)

Making of an Empire: Soso Sazesh on Scaling Excellence and Why All Dogs with (or without) Fleas Must Die

Adam Sahli and the Order of Operations for Growth and Eliminating Eating Altogether with Ketosis

How Oliver Cromwell’s Legacy Prepared His Successor Wil Cromwell to Dominate Paid Social, but Still Struggle as a Modern Day Wizard

The Great JP Saunders the Third, of the Legendary JP-Evan Duo, on Creating a Winning SEM-Social Tag Team and How America’s Mess Could Have Been Avoided Had You Listen to Him Feel the Bernnnn, God Damnit

The Trials, Tribultions, and Rewards of Getting a Ride Home Affordably Late at Night and Taking SEM Novices from 0 to 100 with Alan Vazquez

Upcoming Mother Christine Eitel on Raising a Future SEM Account Manager and Using The Power of Excel For Everything in Life like House Hunting and Tracking Teammates’ Diets

The Art of Content Marketing: How to Spot a Pleb with Sachin Maini and His Secret Middle Name

Hacking Editor for Stupid Large Accounts like Mixbook with Daniel Goodman, Balls of Fury Master and Professional Brisket Maker

The Life Changing Magic of a 100% Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Diet and How it Can Lower Your CPAs with Matt Lally

22 Ways to Pull Off a Perfect Solo Date and Successfully Launch Accounts Over Holidays with Marc Gutierrez 

Dmitriy Lizin and the Journey to Great Account Management without Vodka and How to Get into College at Russia Amidst Total Corruption

Standing on Shoulders of Giants: Dorry Funaki on Apprenticing from the Best and How to Create Awesome Spotify Playlists

Movie Critic James Scheibli Offers Advice on How Screenwriting Can Help You Crush Paid Social, and What it Really Means to be Gluten Free

10 Reasons Why You Should Choose a Life of Growth over a Life of Comfort with Shailey Kashyap, And Why She Also Agrees that All Dogs with (or without) Fleas Must Die

The Ultimate Guide to SEM Consulting and Living a Nudist Life While Soul Searching in Europe with Trevor

I had so much fun conjuring these up, it would be a shame to let them go to waste. Maybe I will write full blogs on each of my heroes. Or @Sachin, feel free to take any of these for MarCom.

How can I dream when so many people are having nightmares?

There’s a lot of suffering in this world stemming from all levels of our society — from the upper echelon of our broken political system that’s steering the world to oblivion, to the average unaware consumer making daily choices that unintentionally wreak havoc on our planet. I have the angst of an adolescent who just began asking himself what is the purpose of life.

I’m uninformed about politics. Not by accident, but by design. By staying out of the mud slinging, I can focus on being productive and do good work. Trust me, I can be a very unproductive and negative nancy after playing emotional roulette with facebook and twitter all day. The days leading up to the election were particularly torturous.

I heard a lot of Trump did this, he said that, and oh no he didn’t! He’s an unappealing and offensive menace, but I paid little attention to him. Don’t feed the troll they always say.

I embraced what Edward Snowden said regarding presidents, “We should be cautious about putting too much faith or fear into elected officials. At the end of the day, this is just a president.” Complaining is draining, so I focused on making, doing, and building with my head down at work.

But when things took a turn for the worst, when Trump approved the North Dakota Pipeline, I lost my marbles. Fuck you, Trump, fuck you…

With personal native american friends at the front line, posting live videos, my attention became fragmented and divided. This whole episode has made it hard for me to give 120% on taking my work, career, and clients to the next level.

Amidst the news of the DAPL, I was tempted to drive to North Dakota myself and lend a  helping hand to my friends fighting for all of us. However, with a sliver of enough restraint, I bit my tongue. I settled with donating money and asking others to contribute.

This situation prompted me to re-examine my body of work and contributions. What I found is that I want to do more good for this world. While I’m damn proud of my work, team, and clients, I want to directly effect the causes I’m most passionate for. This was a major impetus for me wanting to pursue my own path, to effect change in my own way.

Maybe I could contribute my SEM skills to mission driven organizations or nonprofits? I’m open to ideas.

I’m not a great protester. Heck, I couldn’t protest my way out of getting grounded or detention growing up. But when it comes to show and tell, I believe it’s infinitely more effective to show rather than tell. Let your actions speak for yourself.

Tweeting Trump “Fuck you” might give me a short dopamine burst — short term — but showing him through my volunteering, business ventures, writing, and donations would infinitely trump social media slacktivism. I hope what I have to show can help a little bit.

A longtime dream was realized

Three years ago, my dream was simple: to sit at a big table with the smart ass people at every corner, side, and angle as we strategize on how to take over the world with nothing but the laptops, wits, and hustle. When I arrived to Growth Pilots, my dream finally actualized.

Monday meetings were my favorite. I would always take a good hard look around me and remind myself, “Pinch me. It’s real! The dream is real! What a blessing.” When my coworkers looked around the room, they probably saw it as a typical monday with their regular teammates. My experience was different. I saw that we were elite commanders of an intergalactic space federation making all sorts of strategic decisions.

When we discussed account problems, I heard, “Who needs help with their engines, blasters, and cannons?”

By competition, you mean the alien forces that threaten our Jupiter orbiting supply station?

And why the hell isn’t the wifi working?! (yes, wifi still sucks even with intergalactic travel)

Oh if only you could feel what I felt and see what I saw. The child-like wonder saw no end.

Maybe that’s why taking notes was never my forte… I was always dreaming.

Sometimes dreams are so vivid and lively you have to ask yourself, “Was that real?” Typically, the dream begins to fade when you wake up. It escapes you. As you lie in bed, you try hard to remember and relive it, but it only hastens its vanishing. Eventually, you have to get up and move on with your life. So your day goes on, business usual.

However, this dream felt different.

The interview. My first day. The first 90 days (filled with atrocious and obscene mistakes that made me want to cry every night). The times I got chewed out my clients. When I began leading my meetings unsupervised. How much I learned from managing 10+ accounts. How much I grew from the mentorship. My quirky team. The hard times I wanted to give up, but persevered. The late night conversations. Friday lunches. Happy hours. The mischief after happy hours. My last day. How I gave it my all to the very last minute.

When I woke up from this dream, I still remember. It was all real: the joys, the laughter, the face palms, the trials, the pains, the growth. I wish I could lie down, close my eyes, and relive it. But I know I have to get up and move on.

One thing is for certain: I will not forget this dream.

Thank you for everything Growth Pilots!