I started October in a cramped 1998 Black Mercedes. I was crossing Canada on a nice ol'fashion road trip even camping on the side of the road just to go live with Alex in BC for the month. What spells decentralized work better than going to live with your co-founder?
It was such an incredible experience learning how to spend my energy and how to grow from "real" situations.
Living with your Co-Founder
I had the opportunity to take a sneak peek into Alex's lifestyle. The first thing to know is when you are in Squamish, BC you HAVE to choose whether you are going to be a mountain biker or a climber. In my case, it was pretty straightforward because Alex already had decided I was going to climb... So I went buy climbing gear (💸💸💸) and once that was settled all there was left to do is go on the rocks.
The one thing we didn't account for is rain. See, rock climbing and rain don't go very well together and Squamish in autumn is wet, really wet. Our schedule ended up being ruled by the weather, which let's be honest, is still much better than your 'boss'. Whenever there's good weather, we would end up working on average 4 to 5 hours a day.
Some might say "that's not a lot! you aren't focused enough" but something I realized is I was never as productive as in October. When it was time to work, I was fully immersed and focused to get things done. Spending many hours a day go hiking or climbing didn't hinder our ability to work on Hookdeck. In fact, it actually helped us. There are probably many reasons for this but if I had to guess which were the two biggest factors then I'd say it was allocating time to think and spending energy to pursue a passion.
Time to think
We gave ourselves a lot of time to think and self-reflect during our activities. Whenever we went for a hike, I took that opportunity to process all the thoughts in my head and clearly structure them which greatly helped me tackle complex problems like pricing... well it's still something we are constantly trying to improve. Obviously keeping a balance is crucial because too much thinking means you aren't executing. However, taking the time to understand what you are doing and how you will doing it is something I wasn't appreciating enough.
I discovered a passion that led us down a path of dedication and allocating a considerable amount of energy towards improvement. Honestly, I don't remember the last time I took an activity as seriously as rock climbing. The last time was probably when I was part of my high school's football team. 5 practices a week, off-hours gym and training sessions, and 1 game on the weekend was almost the same level of commitment I had towards rock climbing.
When I think about, it's clear that a big reason I couldn't invest myself in a passion was that my time and schedule was dictated based on the society's need instead of my own. Doing a 9 to 5 is a clear admission that working is our number 1 priority. It has a great impact on how much mental bandwidth I had left after a day of work to do something interesting and it forced me to push my wellness and activities in inconvenient and restrictive time-slots. Who would really think that playing hockey at 11 pm on a Sunday is a great idea?
It might sound counterintuitive to carve time to NOT work but it has been without a doubt extremely beneficial and I feel it rubbed off in the other spheres of my life such as work. Dedicating energy to push myself to greater heights and experience actual enjoyment is something I totally forgot how to do. Now that I've experienced it again, I can't go back. Having schedule flexibility to optimize my personal happiness is a fundamental part of my life.
Dealing with "real" moments
Alex is a great friend with whom I've got to share amazing experiences throughout the years. The thing is a lot of the time we spent together was always in a positive setting. Road trip in Iceland, skiing in Colorado, or partying in Berlin isn't exactly hard situations to get along. I am grateful to have had the chance to live with him because let's face it, living almost 24h a day, 7 days a week for a full month, can get intense. It's prime for moments where the worst comes out from a person... That happened to me twice. The first instance was a heated argument on a business topic. The second was a very uncomfortable emotionally packed discussion. Alex had never seen this side of me and it was so strange that it had to be addressed.
At the end of the day, I feel that living these moments of "weakness" was definitely a blessing in disguise. It forced us to have honest discussions, share our thoughts on what happened and how can we move forward. We went for long walks trying to clearly express some of the emotions we kept pent up because we wanted to avoid difficult discussions. A major element we were able to put our finger on is the fact we are poor communicators. Many situations arose from miscommunication but were amplified by a lack of willingness to tackle them. Truth be told, I was definitely worst at this compared to Alex. When he explained to me how he felt about some of the things I was doing, it really sucked to hear. It was never my intention to put him between a rock and hard place however it did happen without me knowing. That stung and made me realize I lacked a certain level of awareness when I talked about specific topics. After I was made aware of this, it really pushed me to get feedback from my surrounding. I wanted to better understand the situation and seek out ways I can improve. I want to give a special shoutout to Jenny, Alex's girlfriend, her guidance was really valuable. She was there in many of the situations and shared with me how she saw things from a very different perspective. I took it extremely seriously and started to change how I approach certain types of conversation to avoid creating tense moments.
I feel so lucky and grateful to have Alex, yes as co-founder, but even more as a friend that cared enough about me to tell me the truth in my face. He saw a "not so great" side of me but still was able to manage it. I know I have to continue to grow but can always rely on Alex to tell me the truth. This was a valuable lesson because if we're serious about building a business together, there will inevitably be many more ups and downs. At least now, I feel and know we can manage it.
I've written about our month of October in 2021 but I believe it was such an important moment for Hookdeck that I wanted to keep a log of our victories. We were able to confirm to a certain degree that we can be extremely productive even with a super flexible schedule. Being able to get through some challenging moments indicated that we both wanted to make it work and continue this adventure together. By being honest and with good communication, we can handle anything coming our way. I'm very proud of us.