My journey to become CEO of Limeade was a fun and exciting one. But it wasn’t always easy. I played professional basketball in Portugal, spent a few years doing econometric consulting, studied hard in graduate school, and did some extensive soul searching about my career and personal values. I wouldn’t change any of the steps I took to get here and I don’t believe in time travel — but if I could impart some words of wisdom to another 22-year-old Henry, they’d sound something like this…
1. Great managers don’t grow on trees.
Don’t focus on the management team — focus on the company. Managers change all the time, so you can’t expect to get your dream manager. But great companies tend to attract and train better people managers. Pay attention during your interview: If you get the feeling people care about growing employees and investing in their teams, then there’s likely a good job for you.
2. Failure is necessary.
Don’t be afraid to fail. Most companies invest in process and systems so you can make mistakes without damaging the brand. The fear we feel when we leave our comfort zones is mostly inside our heads. Push yourself to move toward that discomfort. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that failure is failure. Failure is actually learning. And without learning, you’ll never innovate.
3. Be more bold.
Take more risks. Be more bold. No right answer exists. The way we all do things isn’t necessarily a smart or thoughtful way — it’s just the current way. So if you see a better way, pursue it. If the company fundamentally holds you back, then go find a place that won’t. (Maybe that means starting your own company.)
4. Set personal goals.
Upon finishing graduate school, I set a goal that I’d stay at my first job for four years. I didn’t want to be branded as flighty. It was important for me to show commitment, persistence and growth within a company. What I learned in those four years is essential to making Limeade special today. Limeade wouldn’t be the same without those formative years at Intuit.
5. Find your purpose.
You’ll eventually realize you only live once. That’s why it’s best to align your career with your deeper sense of purpose. As Limeade research shows, a sense of purpose and meaning in your work is key to your well-being and to “loving your job.” I really loved the teamwork and big data analytics involved in my job at Law and Economics Consulting Group. But I realized the consulting model felt more about billing hours than building cool things or solving global problems. Since it wasn’t mission-driven, I found myself jaded. Once you have a job with real meaning, there’s no going back.
6. Filter out the noise
Don’t be in a hurry to prove your value. I’ve fallen prey to seeking adulation and recognition from others when I should’ve been listening to others’ words and my own inner voice. Self-motivated listeners produce excellent work without worrying about career trajectory. I wish I’d had a little emotional intelligence in my 20s or 30s.
7. Trust your body. Trust yourself.
You can stay true to yourself by using your sleep as a guide. If you sleep like a baby and are excited to work on a challenge when you wake, you’re on the right path. If you don’t like your morning look in the mirror, or feel a fight or flight response as you walk into work, those are red flags. Listen to and trust your body, and stop thinking of your brain, your body and yourself as different things.
Now if we could only get 22 year-olds to listen to 47 year olds.