38 Lessons from 38 Months

November 10, 2021

Below is a list of observations and annecdotes that I developed (and/or plagirised) while working at Birdie for just over 3 years - for context, Birdie is a well-funded SaaS start-up, which I joined when there were less than 10 employees and left with the team close to 100.

I've purposefully left each item in list-form, without any additional context or explanation - leaving you, the reader, to interpret them however you see fit.

For me, they serve as cues that enocurage me to reflect, whenever something similar is discussed in my future endeavours. For you, I hope there is something here that can encourage you to interrogate your current thinking and perhaps the ways of working at your company for the better.

  1. Buyers and users have different, often competing priorities
  2. User pain will supersede buyer pain over time
  3. Care is complex
  4. Users cannot always be personified
  5. Language should adapt to your audience as your business scales
  6. Innovating and iterating are two distinct phases of product development
  7. Small teams can have big impact
  8. Find the right people for the right job
  9. Improvement starts small and starts today
  10. Perfection is a journey, not a destination
  11. Execution without a strategy = waste, strategy without execution = hot air - you have to work hard on both
  12. Pessimism can be valuable
  13. Be ruthless with your time
  14. In order for design to have a seat at the table it needs to provide for the table
  15. The future is murky, the present is clear - both are equally important to explore
  16. Agile is still a mystery
  17. OKRs are just ok
  18. Recognise your privilege
  19. Find what energises you
  20. Burnout is real
  21. Testing should not supersede thinking
  22. Rules are made to be challenged
  23. Specificity for the win
  24. In the absence of data, respect the discipline
  25. Share, share and share again
  26. Document as you go…
  27. …And don't stop working on it!
  28. Come with ideas, not just problems
  29. “How fascinating?”
  30. Actually disagree and commit
  31. Be honest with priority
  32. Speed and quality will always be enemies, but they can see eye to eye if given enough resource
  33. Constantly seek out your blindspots
  34. Always act with intention
  35. Work to prove yourself wrong
  36. Pick your battles
  37. Don’t take things too seriously
  38. Make friends

Got feedback? Let me know over on Twitter.