How to Discover Your Mission and What to Do About It with Claire Lew

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Reading time ~ 35 minutes.


Location: The inside of a troubled human brain.

An argument between dreams, and realities, is on the verge of becoming a scuffle. The will, and the way, have both been held for questioning. The ability to imagine, hangs onto the fatigued string of hope.

For the 73rd time this year, one’s purpose is missing.

Location: A street corner in The Village, New York City.

The great American writer, James Baldwin, recollects an exchange that’s been a guiding light for his work.

“I remember standing on a street corner with the black painter Beauford Delaney down in the Village, waiting for the light to change, and he pointed down and said, ‘Look.’ I looked and all I saw was water. And he said, ‘Look again,’ which I did, and I saw oil on the water and the city reflected in the puddle. It was a great revelation to me. I can’t explain it. He taught me how to see, and how to trust what I saw.”

Location: The here and now.

Life tells us things.

March into the wilderness. Stay put.

Read Carver in a cafe. Watch Cop Rock.

Stare ceaselessly out the window. Confront a to-do.

Send emojis to the Northern Lights. Ignore the bucket list of coral reefs.

Believe in quiet revolutions. Subscribe to the almanac of fruitless agitations.

Offer untiring kindness, wrapped in tinfoil, speech, and deeds. Be Mojo Jojo.

All these things are coming right at us, all the time. Without asking what we believe in, without knowing what’s work for, and without committing ourselves to it, we never can tell what to do.

True calling, purpose, whatever it is that we ache for, wouldn’t show up, unless we start showing up.

Unless we realize that it’s a privilege to be able to discover our beliefs, through our work. Unless we notice the radiance in the toil of others. Unless we learn to trust ourselves.

There are people who don’t just know their missions, they’ve got them etched on their nerves, drilled down to their bones. They live their mission. They breathe it. And everything that they do, speaks for it.

Today’s guest Claire Lew has one such mission, and the will to go after it. Claire heads Know Your Company, a three person effort that helps 12,000 employees create more honest, and open workplaces. And Claire wants to run it for as long as she can.

In this episode, we cover:

Why a pencil became one of her best friends in childhood.

Where does her urge to create, springs from.

How does a luminous merger of love for science (from her father) and art (from her mother), informed how she looks at the world.

How did an unfinished non-fiction book affected her at age 13.

Why she paints.

A friend and mentor, who reassured her that it’s fine to be a little weird, and aim for something bigger than herself.

Her mission with Know Your Company

How she began to believe in it.

The crazy story behind the origins of Know Your Company.

How do they serve thousands of people with just a three-member team.

Why we shouldn’t ask - “What are my strengths?” or “What are my weaknesses?” and what to ask instead.

The merits of trusting yourself.

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Tune in.

And once you’ve heard the episode, if your eardrums have made answer, and would want more such conversations, you can subscribe to the show on SoundCloud.

Here’s a lightly edited transcript of this conversation.

***

Transcript:

Akash: Hello there, Claire! Welcome to the show.

Claire: Hi Akash, I’m so glad to be here.

Akash: Thanks for joining us today. We are glad that you could make it. Thank you!

Claire: Of course, yeah, really really excited to speak with you.

Akash: What we do is, we’ve got a time machine at Live The Questions, and the first thing that we do is we use it. Let’s begin at the beginning, it would be great if you could tell us what were you like as a child.

Claire: Alright, we’re going in the time machine. I was a huge introvert as a child. Still am. Even though a lot of people today would tell you that, you know, they don’t believe me when I tell them that I’m an introvert. That’s definitely who I am at my core.

In the sense that there’s nothing more that I love, than just time to myself, to think, to observe. In fact, when I was a child, I was such an introvert that my mom, she was so worried that I was going to become and grow up to be a recluse.

She’d put me in all sorts of activities, and clubs. A funny thing she likes to say is, when I was younger, my best friend was a pencil.

So, I could sit, and just draw, and write all day, and be endlessly entertained. I’d say that sums me up as a kid.

Akash: Is the pencil still a friend?

Claire: Oh, yes! Absolutely. I don’t know if it’s my best friend, but I find so much peace and confidence, in being just able to sit, and kind of put my thoughts down on paper. And whether it’s drawing, I also paint.

Maybe you can substitute the pencil for a paintbrush. And I love to express myself that way. But yeah, as an introvert getting that time to yourself, to create your own thing, whatever that is, is important.

Akash: And this urge to create, sort of, talking to the quiet with a pencil or a paintbrush, where do you think that comes from?

Claire: That’s a great question. I have to say my parents. So, my dad’s definitely a huge introvert. But my mom, she’s the extrovert. I want to say that I probably, was heavily influenced by both of them, and a mix of both of them.

My dad, very big introvert, he has a Phd. in Mechanical Engineering, and the way he sees the world is kind of through numbers. Everything has an answer. Everything can be objective, and is black & white.

And, he doesn’t have a lot of patience for things that are too touchy-feely, so to speak. So, that’s my dad, one side right. My mum on the other side, huge extrovert. Loves people. Could just spend all day talking, listening to people. Telling stories.

She sees the world in color. She has a Masters in Design, in Product Design. So, she sees everything in shades of grey, colors. Everything has nuance. Unpredictability. I think I’ve definitely been influenced by both of them.

What both of them do love, is creating. My dad, very much more in a mathematical and problem solving sense. You know, to understand the utility of something. How do you change the world in the realest way, most tangible way possible?

And my mom, she’s a big dreamer. And thinks of things that are interesting. And beautiful, and unique. So, both creative people at heart, and definitely, really influenced by both of them in that way.

Akash: This reminds me of, so I was listening to Sarah Kay, the Spoken Word poet, and she was describing her parents, and how they as artists have influenced her art, and her work.

And one of the things that she spoke about was really fascinating, they used to put a poem in her lunch every day. So, words and the gastronomical syntax went together, and something happened.

Can you recall instances, or particular things that your parents did that informed your thinking, instead of just an osmosis that occurs when you’re around them, what was the poem in the lunchbox event for you?

Claire: Right, speaking of lunch boxes. Something that my mom would always do, is she would draw beautiful design on our lunch box, or on our paper bag. And, I remember, in elementary school, if you were different, that’s uncool.

So, I didn’t like the fact that she would draw all sorts of things on my lunch bag. So, I kinda turned it the other way, so that no one could see it. Which is really sad, actually. I’m not proud of that.

But, when you’re nine years old, you care a lot more about fitting in, than you do about appreciating your mother’s love.

She would also put a really beautiful card, that she’d either make herself or pick-up at the store. And put them, in our lunch. Just really sweet, thoughtful, things. You know, how do you create personal care and make someone feel really loved.

She definitely was really into that. Also, as an artist, she used to teach a lot of art as well. And, so, I took a lot of art classes because of her. And because she just exposed me to so much art. Definitely that from my mom.

With my dad, it’s interesting. My dad was really instrumental in helping me with homework. Especially around Math and Science. It’s so interesting, I think, when you’re able to talk to someone, who can explain why they love something, I think, you understand it better.

My dad, he loves Physics, he loves Science, he loves Math, and numbers. So, I gained a different perspective, in being able to listen to him talk about Physics. How everything in the world can be explained, right?

It changes your perspective in terms of that way, yeah, you know, the other thing that is interesting is that my dad is also a lover of technology.

He would always have to have the latest, cool product. Whatever it was. He’s a classic, I think, Apple fanboy. So, I remember getting our Blueberry Mac, in our house. I remember, the first time, our family got an iPod, I think we have every generation of the iPod that’s since come out.

In terms of him sharing, and talking about technology. “Claire, did you see this?” “Have you heard of this news?” And always sharing that. It’s funny how today, my career, what I enjoy doing, it is very much at the intersection of technology and design.

Again, I really attribute that to my parents.

Akash: In equal measures, science, and humanities, then you get a certain lens. So, now that Claire runs this company, and has a mission. How are your conversations with your parents now?

Claire: They could not be more supportive.

I’m so lucky because I think not all parents are like this. I mean, in the sense that they want to know everything that’s happening. They’d send me articles, “Claire, did you see this?” “Oh, I saw you spoke at this,” they couldn’t be more supportive, and wanting to just be there and cheering on, and rooting for me.

I think to have that kind of support as an entrepreneur, and like I said, I don’t think all parents do that. Especially parents of entrepreneurs. I think, without that kind of support, especially from my parents, there was no way I’d be able to do what I can do today.

The fact that they’re so supportive, meant that I could take risks early on. Not worry about, “okay, if really things go poorly, I have a place to sleep.”

You know, when you have that sort of support, it gives you so much more cushion and freedom, to do what you actually want. And I never took that for granted, I think it’s a huge, incredible, privilege, it’s a lot of luck.

I’ve lucky enough to be born to my parents, vs, other people, or in another country, etc. etc. I never take that for granted.

Akash: I wonder if that’s, as you said, you’re in luck with that case. But I’m sure, people have similar poignancy in the way they look at their relationships with their parents. And, you try to look at the uncounted wonders they’ve just given to you, it’ll be hard to remember all of them together. Yeah, it’s just a great thing.

So, we’ll go back a little again. You’ve mentioned somewhere that age 13, you read, What Do I Want To Do With My Life, a book by Po Bronson.

Claire: Correct.

Akash: What did you discover in that book at age 13?

Claire: Oh, nothing! Absolutely, nothing. I’m sure the book’s good btw. It’s funny, because at the age of 13, I don’t even think I finished it. I think, I read the first half of the book.

For me what that book did, it wasn’t so much what the book itself was saying. It was just the fact of the question that it was posing.

And so, for me it was a early commitment to myself to start thinking about, “wow, I’m lucky enough to be born into a world, and a family, where I have a lot of choices.”

And, in terms of what I want to commit myself towards, and put myself towards, what is that going to be. Should it be, just sort of job I fall into? Should it be, just something that I do, because other people think I’m good at it?

Maybe, because I can make a lot of money? What is a meaningful life? How is it that I can end up contributing towards that? So, thinking about it, that early, I think, was really formative for me.

And the reason why I started doing that is because as a kid, I mentioned to you, that my dad, his background is in Mechanical Engineering. Because of his job, we ended up moving around a lot. All over the country.

Atlanta. Washington state. Ohio, Minnesota. And, as a kid, that’s a lot of moving. It’s hard. So, I would always wonder, “Why are we moving? Why is my dad, not happy at his job, and am I going to be feeling that same restlessness, that he is feeling? Is that how I’m going to live my life?”

So, that’s when I decided to get that book. Like I said, didn’t finish it. It was a nice, and important commitment that I made to myself, “alright, let’s start asking this question, so, we can think about what the answer is.”

Akash: I think, a bit of that, the search for meaning shows up in your art. And the other work that you do as well. I was just looking at the paintings that you’ve posted on the site.

Claire: Oh, thank you!

Akash: They’re sublime. And one of them is called, Self. There’s one that’s called Unstuck. One that’s called Strength. One that’s called Energy. Where is this great art coming from? Who is trying to speak with? And, how does that affect you?

Claire: Well, first of all, thanks for checking them out. It’s always, as an artist, I can only speak for myself. You know, I paint for myself.

I paint for a personal release, an almost cathartic activity. And the way that I try to think about each painting, is that I try to think of a particular emotion, or state, or feeling that I want to capture.

So whether that’s a moment of, “you know what, when I look at this painting, I want to feel perseverance, I want to feel like I can get through something really tough, and feel resilient. So, what does that emotion look like?”

And I try to paint the physical or visual embodiment of what that feeling might be.

For something like Self, it was kind of like, if I had to do a self-portrait of how I’m feeling right now, what would the visual embodiment of that emotion, and of the moment that I’m at right now, what might that look like?

What colors, you know are me, right now? Which sounds a little weird, But I think, as someone who during the day, I’m thinking in a world, where I’m selling a product.

And thinking about a lot of writing, a lot of speaking, you know, looking at product features. It’s one realm of world, where sometimes you need a break. And I have this other side of me, where, you know, I want to tap into.

Again, as an introvert, how do I focus in on all myself, on that quiet, and think more deeply on my own personal thoughts and feelings. And then, I use painting as a way to express those.

Akash: Did you ever think of this, as something that you could do full time?

Claire: I would love to. I would love to eventually.

When I was in High school, I did seriously consider, Art school. And, my mom, having gone to Art school herself for graduate school, she just persuaded me, and said, “Claire, you’re going to be spending 12-15 hours a day, in a lab, in poor lighting, hunched up, whittling away on some tiny little model. You don’t want to do that.”

So, that was definitely one influence, so I thought maybe I’ll go to a normal college. But I think also, a big part of what makes me happy isn’t just self-expression, and the ability to exhibit and share what I’m feeling with the world.

That’s only one part. The other part, and again, really, inspired by my father is the sense of, how to actually help people. How do you make something that’s useful, and actually solves a problem. How do you make something better for yourself and for other people.

Paintings, they do it, to a certain extent. But not as much as a business can. And so, that’s really why I’ve devoted my life really to solving the problem around feedback, and started Know Your Company.

And I’m running that today, is because, what makes me happier, even more than painting, is being able to help other people. And to just solve a problem that actually matters. I’m lucky enough to do that with Know Your Company.

Akash: That thought packs discipline forged in kindness. So, there’s this well-entrenched Gekkonian notion that says, “Greed is good,” that conveys a certain kind of influence. And then, I read your answer to a question that a lot of entrepreneurs ask. What kind of company, do I want to build, right?

I’m sure somebody influenced Gordon Gekko, and of course someone has influenced Claire Lew as well. I’ll just bring that up here. So, this is the week before you took over Know Your Company.

You wrote this to yourself as a note.

“Organizations are an opportunity to affect the world in a way that a single individual can’t on his/her own. I don’t want to forget that.

This document is a small reminder that more than a piece of software, more than a business, Know Your Company is a lever to improve people’s lives, plus make the world a better place.”

This is again inspiring. You said, you were having a rough day, and the fact that you looked at what you’d written, you started focusing on the things that mattered, and that was doing the work.

When you write like that, I’m sure it’s not just your father who’s been an influence, in terms of developing something that is helpful, if you were to look at outside influences, who would you count as the biggest influence?

Claire: Oh, man. Definitely a few people who come to mind. First and foremost, is a very dear friend of mine, his name is Neal Sales-Griffin. He’s the CEO of a non-profit organization, called Code Now.

Neal, and I went to North-Western, together, and we spent four years working together, actually in student government. He was student body president, in his senior year. He’s a few years older than me.

And then, I was the student body president in my respective years. I’ve always looked up to Neal, and seen him, and almost as a big brother figure.

To me, we ended up after graduating from college, starting a company called The Starter League together, which was incredibly successful, which he later continued to run as the CEO, they just recently got acquired, this past year.

I have a lot to thank for Neal, the perspective that he has shared with me.

I think, where I get a lot of my desire to help other people is because he is someone who is so selfless, in wanting to help others, and make the world a better place, it gives me the confidence to say, “Oh, wow, that feeling that I have to want to do that, I can do the same thing too.”

Reassurance that you’re a little less weird.

You’re not crazy for wanting to do something bigger than yourself.

I think, before meeting Neal, and going to college in North-western, when I was growing up in High school, you feel this small voice in your head or in your heart, “oh, helping people, that’s fun, that’s nice, being a part of something bigger than yourself, that’s pretty great, right?”

There’s that voice, and there’s another voice that says, “oh it’s just so much easier to lookout for yourself, you need to just kind of head down, do your own thing, focus on yourself, be a little selfish,” and I think a lot of people listen to that voice.

Because they don’t have other people around them, saying, “no, that’s okay, it’s okay to want to help other people, that’s a great thing to do.”

I think, you know that we live in a world, where whether it’s the societal cues or pressures of, you know, what’s going on, where it’s kind of do your thing, and go climb the corporate ladder, become a doctor, model whatever pattern of success based on what other people have done.

And, I don’t think a lot of people choose to listen to their own voice. Well, what do you really want? What do you actually want to do? Yeah, I’m really lucky to have Neal, as a mentor, because he has always encouraged that other voice.

Who has always, for himself, thought, well, how can I help other people. How can I help other people be happy? And why, you know, there’s so much reward in when you’re able to do that.

Akash: Certainly. Kindness must be cultivated. I’m sure there’s a lot of room for it, everywhere in the world. I think, what mentors do, is that they are able to push these nudges of kindness, with effort and discipline. They also tell you that they are possible.

I’m sure you’re doing it, virtually, for a lot of people. Which is just giving it back with your writing, and the mission.

Claire: I hope. I hope. Thank you.

I think it’s very easy to feel alone in this world. And feel like you’re the only person who cares about something, who thinks a certain way, when that happens, you’re lot less likely to act on it.

I think, the less alone that we feel, the more that we share, “I’m struggling with this, too. Hey, I’ve been thinking about something similar.” The more we’re able to encourage people to do what they actually want, and tap into what they actually want.

Akash: So, what you do in a way, is you document how things were, how things are in you head right now, and how you’re thinking about the future.

And, what are you learning, from these daily at times brownian, at times exciting motions of the world. And, what you draw from that, and having the courage to just put it out there.

Given that you had a pencil as a child, and perhaps a diary, but that was strictly a private affair. And now it isn’t. It’s, of course, believing that there are people out there, who, perhaps, share the same belief.

And there’s a possibility of having more conversations, around the idea that you believe in. I mentioned, mission twice, your mission, so could you tell us about your mission at Know Your Company?

Claire: Absolutely.

So, our mission is to create a world where people can communicate openly and honestly at work. So, what I aspire to do is to help employees, and managers, go to work and feel like they don’t have to hold anything back.

Like, they can be transparent, have real talk. And they can solve real problems that are going on, in their companies.

And today, the way we do that at Know Your Company, is with a piece of software.

But I’ve always believed, Akash, that the problem of feedback, the problem of communication at work, the problem of a broken company culture, only can be solved really through people taking action, and that’s going to take so much more than just software.

Huge reason, why I do the writing, why I do a lot of speaking, as because, there’s so much more beyond just using a software tool, which is again our product, what we sell in order to create that world, where people can communicate honestly and openly at work.

That is the mission. To create a world, where that is possible.

Akash: And it’s rooted in conversations.

Claire: Yes. It’s this idea that when you have a one on one with a manager, nine times out of ten, your manager would ask you something like, “How’s it going?” and nine times out of ten, you as an employee, would say, “it’s going fine.”

When, really, below the surface, for most employees, it’s not going fine. There’s something always bothering them.

Whether, they’re already looking at other jobs, or saw this mistake that happened, in a project. They’re thinking about telling someone, but they’re not really sure if anybody cares. Or they’re worried about themselves looking bad.

And that gap, between what’s actually being said, and what’s not, that’s the number one reason why problems in companies occur. That’s the reason why, owners in businesses are always surprised, when people leave.

They’re always surprised when real problems pop up, that they didn’t hear about. So, it’s this huge issue where as a CEO, you’re constantly the last to know something.

And so the way that we solve this, our philosophy, and our methodology, the way you uncover that. The way you uncover things that are unsaid, the way you close the gap between what’s actually said, and what people aren’t saying, is you have to ask the right questions.

The right way, at the right time, so our entire methodology behind Know Your Company, is all around asking the right questions. It’s so inline with your podcast, of living the questions.

That’s really what we consider ourselves experts in. Asking questions to help a CEO, create an environment, where they can actually get the truth.

Akash: How did you arrive at this?

Claire: It was a personal pain. That’s what happened. So, five or so years ago, I was an employee at an early stage company, up in Evanston, Illinois, about six people. Pretty small.

And I was super unhappy, incredibly unhappy, even though I was given a lot of responsibility. I loved my co-workers. Even, despite those two things. I was really unhappy at my job.

And, the reason, I was so unhappy, is because I’ve felt like I could not give feedback to my boss. There was this problem, first hand, of that environment that I was in, didn’t facilitate an open and honest conversation with my CEO.

It wasn’t his fault. It’s not like he was a bad CEO or anything. Honestly, it’s because what do you Google to even to solve this problem, what do you do create an open and honest environment?

At the time, there wasn’t anything. Especially, for a company as small as 6 people. When, I realized, it was such a painful problem, not just at this company, but you know, among other companies.

Whether they’re sixteen people, a hundred people, I decided, “Okay, you know what, this is the problem, I’m going to commit myself towards, this is what I feel should be my life’s work.

I quit my job, and decided I’m going to start a company around this. To solve this problem, so other employees don’t have to feel the same that I do. And to help CEOs, who’re facing the same challenge that, you know the CEO at that job was facing as well.

So, yeah, that’s really how Know Your Company, ended up starting. What I actually, ended up doing after quitting my job is, ended up starting a consulting practice, to help CEOs get to know their employees better. Uncover their blindspots as a CEO.

And my first client, was a company called Basecamp. And you might be familiar with them.

Akash: Absolutely. Who isn’t.

Claire: There are the world’s most popular project management software. They happen to be based in Chicago, and there CEO, his name is Jason Fried. Btw, I get introduced to Jason because of Neal.

So, if you remember my friend, I mentioned earlier, he made that introduction. Speaking of influential people in my life, that’s definitely one connection he made, among many that changed my life.

I met with Jason, told him what I was working on. And he was blown away, he said “Claire, this is insane, because I’ve been suffering from this problem of not knowing my own company, for a while.”

“I want to do two things. One, I want to be your first client to hire you as a consultant. And two, you’re not going to believe this, we’re actually building our own product to solve this problem. And it’s called Know Your Company, I want you to take a look at it.”

And, so funny enough, they’d built this early prototype. I took a look at it, and I’d actually was building my own software prototype, too, at the same time. So, we kind of shared notes, and I shared with Jason what I was working on, I did the consulting project for them.

And they ended up launching Know Your Company, launching the product themselves, and it did so well, and became so successful as a product that they decided to spin it off into its own separate company.

So, Jason approached me, and said, “Claire, I’ve got this crazy idea, would you like to run it as a CEO? And, we’ll give you half the company, you build out your own team, and you run it, though. We’ll just be on board as advisors. Growth the thing. It’s yours. What do you think?”

And, I clearly said, “yes.” So, that was about three years ago. And, yes, since then, it’s been a blast. We work with over 200 business owners, over 12,000 employees who use our product every single week, in about fifteen different countries.

Yeah, and we do it as a three person team. Just hired person number three last month. So, for the most part that we’ve been running the company, it’s been a two member team.

Akash: How?

Claire: Yeah, it’s been pretty crazy. You know, it’s one of the really wonderful things about product is that it’s so simple, that it really doesn’t need much, in order to do a lot.

So, as a bootstrapped company, to me growing at the speed of cash is really important. Not hiring too quickly, seeing the fact that all of our customers are coming to us, and feeling growing pains. Since, they’ve hired so quickly.

I definitely wanted to avoid that. So, I purposely hired incredibly slowly. So, it doesn’t really need a lot, and I’m prepared to keep the business as simple and as straightforward, as possible.

So, our other employee. Employee number one, his name is Matt, he is our programmer. And yeah, he handles all of our product design, backend, and he actually does some support.

We think on strategy stuff together. And I handle, all our marketing. I used to handle all our sales, I just hired a sales person, that’s the third person who now is a part of the company. We hired him last month.

But, it’s funny, when you give yourself the constraints of not working with too much. You strangely, end up getting a lot more done. So, there are just fewer options for what you can do.

So, just hunker in on things that actually matter, you just execute on those. It’s worked for at least now. It’s sustainable. I don’t know, we’re definitely going to grow.

We’re definitely going to hire more people. For me, personally, though, I want to grow the company, slow, and steadily, I want to do this for the long haul.

I want to be running Know Your Company, for the next ten, fifteen, twenty years from now. If I’m lucky enough to be able to, and so pacing ourselves is really important.

Akash: Wow. That’s something that’s missing from a lot of people, to be able to think for the long haul, and realizing the kind of impact that thinking and careful decisions can have at this stage, in the long term.

This also reminds me of this poem by Mark Strand, it’s called The Everyday Enchantment of Music…

The connections between the things that we do. People that we meet. Ideas that we believe in. The connections are just infinite. The way they, happen, even you get surprised as a result. It’s just about showing up, and doing something, and something will happen.

It’s that old idea that two clock pendulums will eventually start oscillating in the same rhythm. Just because the rhythm from you gets to someone else, from them it gets to someone else.

Really, fascinating that you have a vision that’s going to last. I think, we’re coming to a close, and I just have one final question.

So, for someone who is just starting out, isn’t sure, what’s the best path for doing things, is it getting a job, is it starting a company, is it learning more about oneself? What would you recommend them?

Claire: I would say two things. First, ask yourself the question, who do you want to help? I think, a lot of times, we think about what do we want to do, or do next, whether that’s the life path, career path, we think about, “oh, what am I good at? What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? What do I like?”

It’s all about ourselves. When, really, what we’re good at, what we like, all of that, is pretty mutable, and can change. What remains pretty constant is for what higher purpose? For what goal? And for who?

And, I think, asking that question for who do I want to do this work for. For who, do I want to pour my energy towards. That always reveals so much more to me than anything else.

When you realize the problems or the causes that you can get behind, everything else falls in place. You can say, “oh, I care about clean water, I’m going to look at the companies that are looking to solve that problem. And if there aren’t any that are doing well, or doing it the way I want, then, I would want to start my own.”

So, the path becomes more clear and defined, if you choose whom would you want to help. For myself, that became so evident, when I decided who I wanted to help. Employees who aren’t happy at work. I know that feeling, that’s who I want to help.

And that’s what caused me to start my own consulting practice that led to Know Your Company. But again, it starts all in asking that question, who do I want to help?

The second thing that I would say, for whatever the answer to that question is, and what other answers you come to, say, “it means, I need to apply to these five jobs,” whatever it is, you have to trust yourself, I think, it becomes so easy to ask other people for advice.

That the advice that you get is so biased by that person’s own personal perspective, for example, if you go talk to an entrepreneur, and ask them, “Should I start a company or should I go work, and take a job?” They’re going to tell you to start a company.

That’s what they did. That’s what they know. You go talk to, your old college professor, and ask them, “should I go to Grad school, or should I go start a company, or should I go take a job,” they’re going to tell you, “oh, you should go to Grad school,” because that’s exactly what they did.

It’s what they know. And it’s not anyone’s fault, we’re always biased by our own perspective, so when you seek out advice, it will always be colored by that. The only thing that you can really listen to is your own inner voice.

And, you have to, trust yourself. Because, you’re the only version of you, that’s all that exists. So, asking anyone else on guidance on which way to go, it’s only helpful to a point. When you do make that decision, trusting yourself is everything. In my opinion, at least.

And again, that advice should be taken with a grain of salt as well. I’m biased by my own perspective. That’s the funny thing about advice. It really is just that, just advice.

Akash: Thanks. Just what one would expect. Kindness, and gladness in making things for others. Thanks for sharing that Claire, and thanks for doing this today.

Claire: Oh, yeah, thank you so much for the thoughtful questions. Really enjoyed the conversation. Appreciate it.

Akash: Well, thanks. We hope your mission just goes on. I think, in a way, it’s similar to what Laura had said, she had said “the only reason why I want to grow my company is because, I want to have a good place for people to work.”

You’re taking it in the other direction. You want every company to have open and honest conversations about things, and work towards common goals. Good luck to you guys. Keep documenting things, keep writing, and keep inspiring. Thanks!

Claire: Thank you so much!

Author of the post

Akash Sharma

Product Marketer at Chargebee. An Avid Reader, Seeking Cerebral Turbulence

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