One of the things I’ve been saying to our team more and more lately is… I’m here 17 years later because its still fun.
If you sit anywhere near me, watch me on YouTube, etc you just kinda feel that I’m not out of gas, yet. Someday maybe, but as of today eff that.
One other part of why work is fun, is that I get to be a part of some awesome people’s lives. It gives me purpose, let me give you a few examples…
Being a part of special moments
Last year I got to lean into one of my dreams for Seer very aggressively — start using our profits to help people at Seer get more financial value from their time here … we had a really strong year so I changed some things:
1 — I decided to triple our student loan fund, from 12k to 36k. I quite literally have had people come to me in tears talking about how impactful it was to pay off their student loans, others have told me how our big # was the spark they needed to get paying those loans down. That 24k for me is meaningful, but I know deploying it this way is so much more meaningful.
2 — I set aside ~130k to pay for a vacation for everyone in the company, and we forced them to at least plan it before the end of the year.
I recently got an email from someone who had just got engaged, it was a team member of ours, her email said, between you paying for our vacation and posting cheap deals on scott’s cheap flights, I used that $$ to go to Sydney and my boyfriend proposed to me here.
This picture gives me purpose, it reminds me that when we grow this business we have a chance to have real impact on people and we can be a small part of aiding in memories that will last a lifetime.
This is actually the second engagement that happened on my dime 🙂 The first one was somewhere in Italy, where another team member got engaged. Viva la Seer.
We’ve had people take their moms / dads on trips to foreign countries they haven’t been to in a decade or more. I’ve heard stories of a parent’s dream to visit their birthplace or something and Seer funded part of those trips. Helping someone pay down student loans, or take a vacation, or just be more financially comfortable gives me purpose.
There are 2 moments in my career (so far) where I felt I was able to get a person connected to someone/something they were super passionate about. If we didn’t build & growth this company they might not have had those connections.
The first one is Emily Allen getting to meet Patty McCord (She wrote Powerful, co-authored the Netflix culture deck, you know who she is!). The fact that no matter where Emily goes after her time at Seer she will have someone like Patty on speed dial if she needed to run a real problem by her makes me kinda feel like “my work here is complete”. I would say hands down Patty McCord is probably the one person that people in People Ops business wish they could send a text to when struggling with a tough decision. The value of that connection is greater than almost anything I could provide for Emily. Also pictured, Rand Fishkin, Emily is sitting between two people who had the biggest business books of last year.
Kati Polaski (who taught me BI tools) has been a fan of a certain brand for a LOOOOOONG time. She’s visited this brand’s campus over and over again over the last 10 years. She even made a pitch to me on why she should come with me to a certain European country because representatives from that brand were going to be at a conference I was speaking at, and this would be her opportunity to meet them. So you better believe she came along.
She had a whole gameplan on how she was going to hunt the people from that brand down and show them some of our work.
Well we never got anything out of that trip, but once day one of our business development people said, I’m going to go get this project Wil, can you help me? Knowing this was a brand that Kati had been wanting to work with, and the fact that she’s taught me so much about data, I was ecstatic to do everything I could to get get a chance to work on that brand. I haven’t had anyone at Seer say they want to work with a brand and try that hard to make it happen ever, so when we got a chance to present our work to that client at their HQ, I could barely present w/ her b/c I was so giddy that she was there to work on a brand she dreamed of working with well before she was at Seer. There she was showing them the way we sliced through millions of keywords to find opportunities for them.
Knowing that Seer opens doors for people, That’s my purpose.
For my 17th year anniversary the team got me a gift. Many of them gathered their funds and helped a teacher at a local grade school get an air conditioner for her classroom. So kids would be comfortable (and hopefully more focused). This is what my team did for me, it’s hard for me NOT to want to work my ass off for people like this!
The amount of thank you cards I get, the kind words from so many team members keeps me going.
I probably average 1 a week from someone on my team thanking me for something I did to support them / help them / etc. It just feels great.
The amount of people (esp you Jamie B, Adam M, Steph, Meghan) who know I’ll work all day at my desk, never getting up for lunch that stop and say “can I get you something” means so so much.
Helping the world express a bit more gratitude. That’s my purpose.
This last week we had Seerfest, our 2nd conference. I want more than anything for Seer to be a company with an active and real impact on our community. Our most recent event we had speakers who quite literally speak all over the globe. To bring that level of talent to Seer to speak to marketers for about 200 dollars (typically seeing all of us would be $1,000 — $1,200) makes some of the best speakers accessible to folks who may never have a chance to see them, meet them, etc. Check, we’re impacting our marketing community.
There’s also our local community, Seerfest allowed us to bring and put on stage young tech entrepreneurs via our partnership with Hopeworks in Camden. The “kids” from Hopeworks also got to meet these amazing speakers and also share their stories on a panel with a room full of marketers, many of which could use interns from Hopeworks (we have hired a couple of interns, one of which is now working with us) so when we try to bridge the digital divide, this helps us attempt to have an impact on our local communities. We raised 30,000 for the organization!
Lastly, to see someone like Kristin Bigness from Seer get a chance to show the world her talents, seriously checks a big impact box for me too. Using our platform as a company to help grow the careers of our team is just so fulfilling.
The ultimate dream:
Here it is….
My dream is someday I’m sitting around at a BBQ and there’s maybe 20–30 former co-workers joking, working the grill, chasing after kids. Laughing.
The stress is low. The stress is low in some small part b/c I didn’t exit when “I was good”, and hit “my number”. The dream is that it’s me and the families of 20-30 people I’ve worked with who all have worked their assess off to grow Seer, so they have phantom equity in Seer and I can look at each of them, and know that they too have lower stress because they picked me up and ran shit, they took problems they used to run up to me, and said, I’mma handle this….
As people pull up to this barbeque,
People’s cars are paid off (lowering stress)
No one in this group has student loans anymore (lowering stress)
A few people paid off their houses (lowering stress)
A few have college tuition covered for their kids already (lowering stress)
As you can get from the above what I’m trying to do is cap my upside, but KEEP GROWING THE COMPANY, so that the people who helped us to grow the most can get a bit of a life I’ve been living for the last few years, one with low financial stress.
Whether this comes in the form of an exit with a big payout, or me turning our phantom equity in to LARGE regular bonuses, I don’t know. I’m still working on that. This year I intend to take an extra chunk of our profit and instead of keeping it, I feel I might get more value out of expressing gratitude.
That is one of the things that has me so excited. This is the upside of running a long term profitable business. I have profits to actually dole out to the team, no one has to work for the hope someday of a big payout, maybe we just keep being profitable and redistributing the profits back to the team. Now to get to this vision Seer needs to execute well over the years, but this is my dream, and I hope that it comes true. Whenever I have my last breaths on this planet, I want to close my eyes knowing that I didn’t go apeshit on buying 4 houses for myself, and buying expensive cars (I might buy 1 or 2 nice things), it’ll be knowing that these people who’ve had my back are able to live a life with lower financial stress. Its knowing their kids are taken care of, that is what I hope happens.
That is my purpose.