A few weeks ago, I bid farewell to the friends and colleagues I’ve made over the last couple of years at AltSchool. Today, is my first day with Grammarly and I could not be more excited.
Periods of transition are natural opportunities for reflection, and I did my best to use this one as such.
My tenure at AltSchool, while far from easy, has been a tremendous period of personal and professional growth. For the time being I’ll keep some of the more personal insights private, but on the professional front, upon reflection, a handful of insights bubble up to the top:
- To create a transformational solution, you have to get the people who experience the pain of the problem, the experts on how to solve it, and the people who can build it, to actively participate in the problem-solving process.
- Most of our collaboration challenges as adults are rooted in gaps in our own socio-emotional learning. Progressive classrooms are ahead of progressive workplaces in solving that challenge, and a great source for good solutions. Many things that work well with kids, with minor adaptations, also work well with adults.
- Strong relationships, social connectedness and a sense of belonging are explicit goals in and of themselves.
- Curiosity and wonder drive self-awareness and personal growth. But sometimes they are dormant and hard to be awakened.
On a slightly more personal note, the past 2 years have been a tremendous validation that continuing to focus my career on the “people” track allows me to bring much more of my unique abilities to my professional life in a way that’s both highly valuable to the organization and highly rewarding to me. Which is part of why I’m so excited to join Grammarly and lead their People function.
But that’s just part of the story. The mission and the team played a key part in this decision. I guess sometimes startup clichés turn out to be true 🙂
First, the mission. Effective interpersonal communication is at the heart of every human collaboration effort. Tying it with one of the lessons-learned above, it’s a good example of a skill that many of us didn’t get to hone and develop fully while at school. The explosion of asynchronous and narrow modes of communication over the last decades, from SMS to Slack, seem to be making matters worse, increasing the likelihood of miscommunication and misunderstanding. Grammarly is taking big strides in growing from its modest-yet-impressive stronghold of Grammatical Error Correction to actualizing this mission in broader and deeper ways, operationalizing cutting edge Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing research in an unprecedented scale.
Second, the team. Grammarly’s EAGER values are deeply ingrained in the organizational DNA and came to life in every human interaction I had with a team member. In addition to making it an amazing group of people to work with, it’s also a testament to the disciplined way in which the current organizational practices were implemented and the importance that the leadership team attributes to organizational health. Spending a few weeks “on the market” in this transition period made me really appreciate how rare this attitude is among the prospective companies that I’ve interacted with during this period, and how essential an ingredient it is to my ability to contribute and add value in the organization that I’m going to be part of.
I am off to starting a new chapter in my professional (and personal) adventure. Can’t wait to see what new experiences and learning opportunities it will unlock!