July 27, 2022 | 3 MIN READ
Tell us where you grew up without telling us where you grew up.
Bill and Hillary Clinton’s house is a couple of blocks away from my high school (this is public information). As a kid, I would see blacked-out Cadillac Escalades and souped-up Dodge Charger police cars riding around town or outside restaurants from time to time. Legend has it, a senior accidentally ran over their dog one day on her way to lunch. Supposedly, they were very nice about it.
Whether you work remotely or in an office, there’s usually one thing you need to feel “at home” at work. What is it?
I’m on video calls a lot throughout the day, but when I’m doing work, I like to blast music. In the office, I put on headphones, but at home, I play it through the living room speakers. Hopefully my new neighbors don’t hate me yet.
As an employee, what are the most important qualities you look for in a company?
I think a career decision is an investment just like any other. You’re committing your time and energy to a cause, a team, and ultimately a business that can win or lose. Time is a limited resource, and most people spend the majority of theirs working on their career. Your work hours may translate into equity ownership in a business in addition to just salary dollars. That said, I think a few things have to be true for me to want to devote my time and energy to something, at least at this stage in my life:
Describe yourself in one word (and explain your rationale).
Human. I make mistakes, fail at things, and get stressed and tired sometimes. Gotta put those experiences in the bank and keep going.
What skills did you learn from your first job that you still use today?
Balancing distractions, multitasking, and focusing. My first job was on a trading floor at a big bank. There were a few hundred people in a big open room and it was loud—there were phones ringing off the hook and people constantly yelling over rows of desks to organize and execute trades.
In order to succeed, you have to learn to multitask and stay focused on the things that matter most to you. The office of a startup is quite a bit smaller, but when you’re a new employee working on a product, a million questions are thrown at you each day from sales, engineering, data, management, operations, etc. You have to be able to field them without getting too distracted from your core work because things need to keep moving forward on all fronts.
Communal candy dish on your desk in the office. Yay or nay?
Hard no … I’d eat it all before lunch and fall asleep.
What’s the last project you completed that you were really proud of?
We recently took our consumer platform (our first product at Atom) and turned it into an API suite that’s modeled after some of the best fintech solutions out there. Our clients keep telling us how much they love how easy it is to use. That feels great.
Which cartoon character do you identify with and why?
Tito Makani from Rocket Power (h/t '90's kids), because as the ancient Hawaiians used to say: “He who is on the canoe is responsible for the journey, whether he has a paddle or not.” Read: Life is what you make of it.
Also, “Never drink milk from a coconut you found in the dark.” Read: Look before you leap.
What’s the best part of your work day?
Winning a deal, shipping a product, landing a great hire. These small wins add up and keep me going. I also like doing creative stuff—for example, designing a new part of the platform and seeing it come to life is very rewarding to me.
Share an inspirational motto or quote that resonates with you.
Ah, there are so many to choose from. There are a few that come to mind right now. The first is a quote from basketball coach Doc Rivers. He said, “Champions get hit over, and over and over. It’s just that the champion is the one who decides to keep moving forward. It’s how many punches can you take and keep moving forward until you can win. If you get hit, even if you get knocked down, you have to get up and keep moving forward.”
This is just as relevant to building a startup as it is to sports. Every once in a while, you lose a promising deal to a competitor, lose a great employee, ship a feature that flops, get bashed online … the list goes on. Every successful company has had these things happen to them many times. You don’t achieve success without getting up over and over again. As a leader, you have to pull others up, convey resilience and optimism, and motivate the team to keep going.
How would you explain your job responsibilities to someone who’s never heard of Atom?
I can’t answer this question without referencing this clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4OvQIGDg4I
If that doesn’t help, I’d say my job is essentially to decide what to build, consider why we need to build it, and determine how we should build it. Then I work with the engineering team as they actually build it. Our marketing team generates awareness of it; our sales team gets people to buy it, and all of us discuss how to make it better so people want to buy more of it. That’s what I do here. Oh, and I have people skills, of course.
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