December 28, 2019

Finding my place

Design

I want to tell you a story about how came to work at ConvertKit.

In a stark contrast to the formal applications, handshakes, CV reviews and dressing up nice for interviews that were part of the process for landing the previous roles I’ve had in my career, my job at ConvertKit came to me in a completely unexpected way.

I’d happily been the marketing designer at a fashion analytics company for the past 18 months when I met ConvertKit’s founder, Nathan Barry, at a conference. I’d been a speaker at said conference, as had Nathan, and after the event ended he invited two friends and I out for lunch.

We spent several hours at a little pizza joint in Austin, Texas chatting all things life and design when Nathan asked me a question I wasn’t expecting:

“Have you ever considered working remotely for an email marketing software company?”

Not quite sure where he was going with this, I’m sure I stammered a very uncool and uninspiring “uhhhhhh...” until our friend Levi chimed in with “I think he’s offering you a job.”

He was indeed.

We met for breakfast the next day to discuss the role and Nathan told me to get in touch if I decided I was interested.

On my flight home to London I had somewhat of an existential crisis. What did I want from my career? Would it be a good idea to leave my safe and secure role at a London-based tech company to be a contractor for a US startup? Did I really want to start over at a new company, with a new team so soon? I hadn’t applied for this role so was I really qualified for it? Had I somehow fooled Nathan into thinking I was a better designer than I am? Would he be massively disappointed in me and end up firing me, leaving me to figure out how to pay my extortionate London rent with no job?

Yep, I can spiral downwards pretty quickly when making a tough decision.

There was nothing in particular pushing me away from my current role, but I felt a pull towards ConvertKit and to working alongside Nathan. The role sounded cool, the mission was inspiring, but was it worth the risk?

Whenever I have a tough decision to make I default to a good old-fashioned pros and cons list. This is the list I wrote on my phone on that flight:

Ultimately, I decided that being afraid of the unknown was not a good enough reason to decline this offer. What didn’t make it onto the list was a gut feeling I had that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I’d regret forever if I didn’t take it. I decided to take the chance on this role, knowing that I had a good resume of established tech companies to fall back on if I needed to.

I sent Nathan this email this next day:

A couple of Zoom meetings and a contract project later I officially became ConvertKit’s marketing designer.

It was the best decision I ever made.

I’ve been working at ConvertKit for 3 full years now, making it my longest-held job ever in my career. And what I love is that I’m just as excited about my role now as I was when I started back in 2016.

The following is an excerpt from a post I wrote on a previous blog back in early 2017 when I was on my way home from attending my first Convertkit team retreat.

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I feel like I've found my place. The culture at ConvertKit and the way it operates is rare and wonderful. I've never seen anything like it before.

I've just spent a week at a beach house in Oceanside, California with my workmates. Retreats are common for tech companies, especially companies that are remote. I expected it'd be a fun but exhausting week of team building and project planning. But I got a lot more than I bargained for.

The conversations I had with my new workmates this week were incredibly deep and meaningful. Deeper than conversations I have with the majority of my friends. We shared our hopes and dreams, our fears and insecurities. For ourselves and for each other. It was emotional and wonderful, and made me feel so at home in my new role. More so than any job I've had before. Can you imagine holding back tears as you tell your newly appointed manager how much their leadership means to you in a feedback session? Or colleagues talking openly about their differences and struggles, with their words coming from a place of love? I don't know about you but those aren't normal things at other companies I've worked at throughout my career. They are at ConvertKit.

Nathan has a skill for hiring people who are not only extremely talented, but also care deeply about the work. I'm still pinching myself that I was chosen to join his team. I'm going to get to do truly meaningful work in this new role, with incredibly inspiring coworkers. Even just the thought of it brings me such a sense of fulfilment.

The retreat was one part socialising, one part bonding, one part planning, one part working, and one part therapy. Every morning I woke up to the sound of the Pacific Ocean waves crashing, and every night I sat by a fire pit under the stars talking with people from a cross-section of teams.

Even though this is only the beginning, I feel like I've finally made it. I've finally got a role where I can be 100% myself with my teammates. Where they just get me. I can not only travel for work, but I can work from wherever in the world I like. I can do work I'm incredibly proud of. And be challenged in all the right ways. I have a manager who I feel truly cares for me. And am working with a group of people who aren't just here as the next step on their career ladder.

I've found my place. This is where I fit, and what many of the choices I've made in the past few years have unknowingly been leading to.

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Reading this now, 3 years later, I still feel the same way. ConvertKit has grown and changed a lot as a company over the years, but the team culture and attitude towards building connections as I described in that post have remained.

I feel lucky to have found a role that’s such a great fit for me. At a company whose mission and vision I firmly believe in. I know not everyone gets to feel this level of fulfilment from their work and trust me, I do not take it for granted.

I wish my journey into remote work and into finding fulfilment from my job was a more easily-repeatable one so that I'd have better advice to offer at this point of the post, but if you're feeling disillusioned by your work or you feel like you haven't found a company that's the right fit yet: don't give up. The right job for you is out there somewhere. Great companies are out there. You just might not have even heard of them yet.

(PS: This wasn't the point of the post, but we are hiring at ConvertKit. So if the way I talked about my work in this post spoke to you, check out our openings here: convertkit.com/careers)

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