I've been quiet, I know… but get ready for a 90-day roller coaster!

The main reason for my being quiet was work… work I couldn’t really talk about. For my first six months at Spreadshirt, Lukasz, Matthias, Michael, and I — along with lots of folks from across the company — worked on mission, strategy, business analysis and organization structure to understand who we were, who we wanted to be, where we were and where we were going. I’m excited about the results, but that’s not the point of this post; I’ll share that in the coming days, weeks and months.

The purpose of this post is what happened around months six through nine, at least from my perspective. The quick version… Lukasz realized he gets more energy from angel investing and advising, than running the daily operations of Spreadshirt. The result of this is that as of today, I’m the global CEO of Spreadshirt. (See “Gadowski Passes CEO Baton to Eggers”, our news release, for more details.)

This was a process of discovery peppered with confusion, excitement, frustration, opportunity, and fear; and I’ll be open and say for the most part, it wasn’t fun. Being the newbie, outsider, and foreigner on this executive board made my position awkward for me and Lukasz, Matthias, and Michael. (One memorable moment was sitting in my Leipzig flat at 2 in the morning, talking through things with Lukasz and telling him overall, I just wanted to go home. That was exhaustion speaking.) Despite that, I feel lucky that they were the team on this journey with me.

Since this blog is about learnings, I thought I’d share my top three from this experience:

  1. Find a “perspective” board. You’ve heard of a sounding board; I’m going to propose a different twist. This is a specific person that you find for a certain perspective. I stumbled upon this. I happened to call Scott Cook, founder of Intuit, for advice on the potential of my being CEO. He gave me that advice, but more importantly, what he gave me was the perspective of what it is like to hand your company over to someone else. And woah, did that make me put the angst and frustration that I felt at times in perspective.
  2. Make a network map. Call me a geek, but this is an effective tool to think through who is connected to whom, how, and what impact the connections have. It seems calculating, but it is really about making sure you understand the network of what is happening in a complex decision framework. I made big mistakes here, so it is the area I would change the most if I got a “do over”. I was stuck on conversations with Lukasz, and while I did talk with Michael and Matthias, I should have done that more for learning and understanding where they were.
  3. Write down a working together principle. This piece worked well for us. Our working principle was simple: “Don’t assume. Ask questions.” We were pretty dedicated to it, and it felt good to be able to say to someone, “I feel like you are assuming…” and know they would understand immediately and the discussion then changed tone… most often.

I hope these help you in some way. I’m always happy to hear your comments and suggestions.

Now, what is this about the 90-day roller coaster? My goal is to document my first 90 days as the global CEO for Spreadshirt. I’m going to be as open as I can, which if you know Spreadshirt is pretty darned open. So… here’s to day 1!😀

What is on my shirt today?

If something goes wrong,
        don’t follow it

I got this tip from a fortune cookie and immediately made it into a shirt. I feel that our “working together” principle helped us not follow something when it seemed like it might be going wrong.

7 thoughts on “I've been quiet, I know… but get ready for a 90-day roller coaster!

  1. Congratulations, Jana! I can imagine it’s been quite a roller coaster, and will get even more exciting over the next three months.

    I love your idea of a “perspective board” and may need to find one myself. We’ve been having internal debate over whether I stay EBSQ’s CEO or whether we bring in someone more business-minded so I can get back to focusing on the creative and community. I myself am so conflicted. Maybe we can talk sometime?

  2. Congrats, Jana! Totally awesome. If you want a moment to relax, read the essay I posted on my blog – I’m sure you can relate growing up in the same atmosphere as I did.

    God Bless
    – Matt

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s