People say good byes are not official unless you write a long blog post on LinkedIn/Medium. So here it is.
Yesterday was my last working day at CouponDunia. In the last year or so I moved to Mumbai, worked on my first ever product, built it from scratch and then scaled it to a million+ users. It was an amazing experience working with so many smart folks. While leaving I sent a farewell note to the company which I am republishing here. It is part thank you+good bye, part lessons learnt till now working for a bunch of startups. Hope it helps anyone who is planning to venture into the fast pace crazy startup world.
So today is my last day and this is probably the final mail which goes out carrying my signature ‘Manas Saloi, Product Manager - Cashboss’. This was good while it lasted. I am grateful for the opportunity I got at such a young age. Thank you Sameer.
I think it was sheer luck that you chose to trust someone like me who lacked the necessary experience to create and lead a new business unit. And I can never be thankful enough. Not just for this. But for all the other things you have done for me since then.
The time when I literally wrote:
“Actually this is the first time I have been in a PM role. In my last job everything I did was related to some task I had to complete in a day or two. Mostly development work which I could show in daily sprint meetings. As a PM when I do stand ups now I don’t have much to say. So maybe I have been feeling a little guilty thinking I have not been doing enough. Imposter syndrome maybe?” during my 2nd month here (when I was feeling clueless and was doubting my own abilities) and you replied :
“dont worry. you are doing a good job. not an imposter”. The time when you wrote a long mail praising the entire CashBoss team for our effort just after the launch of our app. That was the first time someone had praised me for my work and it will stay with me my entire life.
Also the times where I was probably a bit rude (out of my line) and said things which could have been avoided. Thank you Sameer for not telling me to f*ck off and having the patience to listen to all that I had to say. I can go on and on praising you but then I have to thank a few other people too.
People who have worked with me over the last year for CashBoss + Growth - Abhishek, Kavin, Siraj, Sarvesh, Sharan, Wency, Amey, Girish, Aamna, Rito, Sanket, Gopi, Vishal, Bharat, Udit, Abhishek Bansal, Komal, Nehal, Shrijal.
Some of you have left. Some of you are still here. But all of you are awesome. And it was my luck that during my first gig as a PM I got to work with a bunch of folks as smart as you are. And someday hopefully I will get to work with you all again.
I want to name other people who I have got to know/become friends with during my last one year. But then I am scared that I will miss one of your names. And then I will feel damn lame. You all know who you are. You have become more than colleagues. You welcomed me and made my stay in Mumbai more enjoyable. I will remember all the team dinners, outings, football matches and miss you all. Stay in touch.
I know the right thing would be to end this here when everything is all good and happy. But then I am leaving. So might not get another chance to say a few things which I have been meaning to say for quite a long time now. A bunch of career/life advice for people who are still new. I have experimented quite a bit in my life till now and hence probably am in a place where I can write all this. Might seem pretentious but these are the kind of things I wish someone had told me 2 years back when I was passing out of college. It would be up to you what you make out of it.
- Life is hard. No shit right? It is a massive optimization problem where there are multiple variables involved - career, family, relationships, freedom, hobbies and a bunch of other stuff. You will never be good in all these. So just pick the ones most important to you and be the best you can be. I wanted to build stuff since I was a college. Worked on my own startup idea. Failed. Joined a bunch of companies/startups knowing that sooner or later I would like a leadership position in one or start up myself. For me it was never about the next job which will give me a 30% hike. It was about reaching the next level. When I was a developer all I could care about was how much my lead knew and how quickly I could know as much as him.
Soft Dev -> Lead -> Architect -> VP -> CEO
Soft Dev -> PM -> VP -> CEO
When I had told my manager during my first ever appraisal in life that I wanted to be a PM (in 3 years) he laughed at me. In less than 6 months I was working here building a new business. It could have turned turned out spectacularly bad too. But taking that leap of faith helped. Not a lot of people know this but I had already told my reporting Manager that I would be quitting even before I got the CD offer. I just knew that I had to make it somehow as a Product guy. I did not want the luxury of a safe job behind me.
So if you really really want something just do it. The worse thing is that you will fail and learn something from it.
Shia says it better : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXsQAXx_ao0
If you are just showing up at your job daily for the heck of it then a 10/20 % hike every year is all that you can hope for. Don’t crib about other people being on higher salaries. Acquire skills which will help you reach there. But in case you are looking for stability and a better work life balance instead join a MNC. Startups are hard. Start up life is max risk, max reward. You will listen about people getting 50-100% hikes. You will also listen about 100s of people getting fired. In my own humble opinion startups are the only way to gain ownership, make sure your work stand out and create value faster. But you don’t have to believe me or the media hype. Ask yourself what you actually want.
- Work for someone who roots for you.
Over multiple internships and jobs this is one of the biggest lessons I have learnt. Always work for someone who is way smarter than you. Someone who pushes you and tells you when you screw up. Someone who roots for you and wants you to do well. I think you Sameer have been all that for me. I know we have had our share of disagreements over things in the past, but I can’t thank you enough for being there. Always listening. Giving me advice. It meant a lot for someone who was quite new here.
- Why/ Why should people give a sh*t?
^ This is one of the most important questions you will ever ask yourself.
Want to write a blog post? Ask why people would be interested in reading it.
You want a hike. You go and feel frustrated when you don’t get it. The right question to ask would be Why do you deserve a hike?, Is your skill irreplaceable?, If you leave will the company be able to find another person who can take over your position easily? Or maybe they won’t even need to hire another person?
Want to launch another product? Good. But why should people care?
I read a book called Lynchpin by Seth Godin last year and it changed how I looked at the whole concept of ‘working’. It was scary to realize that since I was just another average coder I could easily be replaced by someone superior. If you are not the best at what you do there is no job security. Job security is a myth. This truth led to me rethinking my whole approach to life/work.
- Create value.
Always be creating value. Relationships, life, out of work activities, jobs. Does not matter where you are. Ask why should someone be interested in you? Why should someone hire you?
Basically the ‘Why’ question. I share whatever I have learned working for startups on LinkedIn/ with anyone who asks for my inputs. It helped increase my network. Got me in touch with people I thought was never possible.
I remember Sameer mentioning the following as part of the mail he wrote during CashBoss launch:
‘P.S If there is a role you are deeply passionate about, come talk to me or your manager about it. Hopefully we can make it happen.’ I wonder how many CEOs write this. Asks you to come and get a role change in case you want something more exciting which suits you. This is the magic of working for startups/ SMEs. You can be whoever you want if you want it hard enough. Talk to your manager/CEO.
Working in SEO? Learn how to run Facebook campaigns too. Maybe even take up Google Adwords. Soon you will be a complete digital marketeer.
You are a Dev working on node? Learn angular too. The value of a full stack developer is »» than a guy who just somewhat knows one language/one part of the stack.
Network like crazy. If you know enough people and are good enough you will never have to worry about job security. Surround yourself with crazy smart people. Proximity is power. Ask yourself how can you help more people?
Remember Inbound » Outbound (In marketing and in life)
- Life is too short.
I can never go back to my school days and do all the things I missed. Can never get back my college days. I am in my mid 20s now and soon this decade will also pass. All I have is my time and what I can do with it.
Be self aware. Make the most of your time. Have goals.
I always declare mine publicly so that people can hold me accountable later : https://www.quora.com/What-do-you-want-in-2015/answer/Manas-J-Saloi
I have a new list which I will chase over the next year.
Ask yourself what you want in life. Being average sucks. Life is too short to be mediocre at your job/ life. Give the max you can. If you can’t then leave and do something else. You are not getting any younger. So why waste time?
You guys wanted a speech. I am really bad at that. So I wrote this super long mail instead. You guys wont have to bother with these anymore. Sigh.
Stay in touch