Turning the ship

So I’m basically three months into my new job, five weeks in the middle of which I was out of the country. The first month I didn’t really know what was going on. The second month I thought I did but I was wrong, and I kept figuring that out week by week. By the third month, I’m now feeling like I’ve picked up enough of what’s going on that it’s time to start making some decisions. I’m sure a year from now I’ll look back on my foolish self of now … but you can’t wait until you’re actually good to start taking action.
The ship is slowly turning.
Some things are easy but just take time. Some things are very important but require careful analysis lest you make a mis-step. Some other things are more politically sensitive than anything, because they may have been done a certain way for a long time and humans are not computers.
But you know what? I love my team. I’m figuring out how to work with them to get things done, at about the same rate that we’re all, collectively, figuring out what needs to be done, and prioritising it. This week was cross-functional team meeting kickoff week, in between some external meetings.
One of the things that Doug said to me a few weeks back was that he thought it was clear I was a good strategist, and we would soon see how much of a decision-maker I am. I remember getting a bit defensive at this, probably because I was a bit concerned that I wouldn’t be as decisive in this new role as I perhaps had been in previous lives.
Well, there are still some negotiations that I haven’t done before where I’ll want help, but I’m definitely starting to hit my stride. I think the guys were actually just waiting for some direction and, on the one side, high expectations and on the other having someone to stick up for them. I did one thing this week that I thought was going to be a lot more controversial than it was. I also got a verbal yes on two deals: both hopefully the beginning of some good partnerships. I never put too much weight on verbal commitments: money talks, especially here. But still, it’s encouraging.
You know what, I’m pretty simple. Ask me what I think and I’ll tell you. I am reasonable and try to be fair. I’ll admit when I’m wrong and say when I don’t like something. But I never shout and yell and the only time I get upset is when there’s a criticism or attack that I find to be unfair.
In one of those strange twists of fate, I found myself on the roof deck at the Grand Daddy getting along like old friends with a hopefully soon-to-be-resident in Cape Town American by the name of Elizabeth. This was ironic because the only reason I was in that place at that time was that I happened to go to an event in San Francisco on a night when my heart was actually distinctly elsewhere …. But at that event I met a guy who connected the two of us. It’s a small world. And who else showed up that night but Karl, El, and Sheraan. Funny how you can be in Cape Town for years and not meet people then once you know each other you see each other everywhere.
Sometimes people ask you questions you can’t answer. Someone asked me on this occasion what my next thing was. That’s like asking me where I’m going to be in ten years. I have NO CLUE. Haven’t thought about it. Yes, I’ve thought about what I would do if I for some reason had to get another job tomorrow, but that’s not the plan. Me, the world, and my situation will be very different in a couple of years when the time is right to move on. Right now, trying to separate me from the company would be like trying to separate me from my Inov8 collection.
But in all seriousness, I’m quite excited to have met this new crew, and see what they might bring to my future. There are some interesting aspects to being female in technology, to being a female business leader, to being a female leader in South Africa, and to being an American expat in South Africa. I suppose there are some aspects of this that are just me: there is the Ellie that gets Aidan to talk all about this girl he’s crazy for only a few hours after he meets me, the Ellie that persuades Mike to talk his crew into letting me stow away with them for a week, the Ellie that has a knack for meeting the right people, the Ellie that continuously procrastinates basic things like importing my cat and buying furniture.
Why I set the bar high in some parts of my life but completely ignore it in other aspects puzzles me. Fear of failure, most likely. Stick to what I’m good at. I guess I want it all, I don’t want to compromise, I don’t want to have to make choices. Except the ones I do. So I avoid the ones I don’t want to make.
Yes, I really do care what other people think. But not when that means compromising what I think is right. Sometimes there are things more important than being popular.
I also took a day off this week to play model for a day, shooting a Reebok TV commercial. It’s going to be shown worldwide, so hey if you see someone in a Reebok ad with a Tom Brady look and orange headband, that just might be me. I was originally meant to do the CrossFit ad they were shooting but got a strange call saying they’d prefer me rather for this other ad rather. I can’t complain, this way I actually got to meet a bunch of fun new people. I hang out in CrossFit gyms all the time anyway, it’s not so often I get a chance to apply my CrossFit skills to new situations!
Sadly it did put me into a state of exhaustion for Friday. Our call time had been 5am at a wine farm in Stellenbosch and the day after a day of activity and sun, inadequate sleep a few nights in a row, not to mention a lunch with Elizabeth at Sandbar, including a glass of lovely Sauvignon Blanc, I set up the bars for a hectic workout. The guys from CrossFit Platinum and Ballistix CrossFit had in recent weeks done a “20s” workout which was 20 reps of 20 different exercises. Bottom line, I was in quite possibly the worst possible state I could have been to do this workout. I underestimated it and was dehydrated and without enough carbs in my body …. I hit the wall 20 minutes in but ploughed on because I was too stubborn to stop.
I’ll do it again. This should be a sub-30 minute workout for me, and next time it will be, damn it.
I had a moment about a week ago when I was in the middle of a beach workout in Camps Bay, running through the sand and I just thought how amazing my life is right now. Sure there are things I’m not 100% happy with, but I am trying to learn and trying to get better. I guess that’s the main thing; I really try to take criticism to heart, whether it’s self-criticism or criticism by others. I can be selfish, I can be arrogant, I can be oblivious, I can be cold-hearted, condescending, scornful. So can we all. You know what they say about people who live in glass houses.
And you know what? Those things make me who I am, and it’s the other side of some of those attributes that give me whatever success I’ve had and will had. As to why I’m here and where I’m going …. I may have no clue, but I’m ok with that. I don’t really have another choice now do I?
The worst thing you could ever  say to someone is ‘don’t ever change.’
Well, that or tell them what the future holds.
  • “A little bit of luck didn’t hurt.” – Keet
  • “I’m arrogant. But I’m not THAT arrogant.” – Elizabeth
  • “I don’t have a next thing! I’m three months into my current job!” – Ellie
  • “There are very few things that can’t wait a few hours.” – Debbie
  • “I was like: ‘You have some serious attitude issues to sort out, guy!’” – Helen
  • “Skyrove is not a ‘thing.’” – Henk
  • “There is a lot of data that we need.” – Tim
  • “It’s actually a farce, at this point.” – Ellie
  • “Some customers you just have to fire.” – Allister
  • “Aren’t you glad you don’t have my job?” “Yes!!” – Ellie & Tim
  • “Tim’s not evil!” “Tim hasn’t started drinking yet.” – Ellie & Adam
  • “Everything you say just gets more and more ridiculous!” – Richard
  • “You are today, sweetheart.” – Gareth
  • “Yeah. Sometimes it is.” – Paul
  • “I’m sorry – you jumped out of a 20-storey building?” – Ellie
  • “I should hang a sign on myself that says ‘I’m not an extra!!’” – Olivia
  • “From now on we’re going to call him Wet Chesty.” – Paul
  • “I don’t remember.” – Paul 
  • “By legal they might have meant not as well enforced.” – Tim 
  • “You can’t get rid of people’s networks. Which is a bit of a problem.” – Tim
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