Nic is away this week, on a much-deserved holiday with his family and he left me, Helcim’s COO, in charge. As my first act of business I broke the drone, let’s hope the rest of the week goes more smoothly.
Who am I? What am I doing? Where am I going? How do I get there? These are questions that most of us have faced at some point. Had you asked me ten years ago if I would be the COO of a growing tech company in Calgary, I would have laughed. But here I am. With Nic away this week, I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce myself and share the story of how I joined the Helcim team.
First, a bit of background - I was born and raised in Calgary, went to university here, got my degree in Urban Studies. I didn’t go the route of city planning because I was looking for something with more flexibility and creativity (my impression was City Hall was far too bureaucratic). So, I jumped in to real estate, meeting interesting people and selling homes in Calgary’s inner city for 11 years.
Then, one day, Nic approached me to join him at Helcim. After some consideration (and trying to convince him I was not the right choice), I couldn’t help but embrace the opportunity. Deciding to join Helcim was completely different from anything that I had done up until that point. With negligible knowledge in a wildly different industry, I was now responsible for leading a team of people who had more experience in payment processing than I did. Crazy, right?
Wrong. I’ve loved my time here at Helcim so far. Turns out there are some similarities that translate between the industries, and while I don’t have a clear five-step guide to becoming a successful COO, there are some lessons and ideals I learned in real estate that are helping me succeed at Helcim. They are:
- You’re going to have to persevere through challenges to realize success. If you don’t stick with it when things are difficult you won’t get to experience success. Every industry has its challenges, and it’s your ability to persevere through the hard times that will make you successful in the end. Fear and doubt are your enemies! You will second-guess yourself - things take can a lot longer, or become way more complicated than you imagined, and you just have to figure it out.
- Treat clients well. Educating them and helping them make their own informed decisions provides value beyond just providing your service. This applies in real estate and payment processing, both industries are complicated and can have a reputation for poor customer experiences. Education and information lead to confidence and trust.
- Understand the value of relationships. It's important to approach client relationships with mutual respect so both parties can benefit. Nic and I both approach client relationships this way, we don't use contracts to keep merchants with Helcim. Instead, we focus on building the relationship by being reliable and delivering excellent customer service. Earn the business repeatedly, over the long term.
- Rely on your people. Whether you’re a real estate agent with a couple of assistants, or in charge of 40 people at a growing tech company – your people are assets and the keys to achieving goals. You’ll strangle your success if you can’t trust others to do their work. Set clear expectations, guide them, teach them, give them a safe place to fail and grow – and watch them flourish.
- Be curious! Ask questions! Find answers! Look things up, ask your peers. Benefit from the knowledge of those who have been in an industry longer than you. Do the answers make sense? No? Ask more! Find new answers. Come up with your own. I’m a naturally curious person and by asking lots of questions and finding answers when I first got started in real estate, and when I started at Helcim, I was able to pick things up. And remember to return the favour when you’re the one with experience and answers.
All that said, the biggest lesson that I can pass on from my experience is don’t be afraid to take a leap into the unknown. Deciding to join the Helcim team as COO was a huge step out of my comfort zone, and I’m so glad I did it. As the company continues to grow and expand I’m excited for what the future holds for me and the entire Helcim team.
Nic – if you’re reading this - I want to assure you that you made the right choice bringing me on board. Everything is under control…almost exactly as you left it…we’ve even managed to sneak in some additional team training. Lol (watch the Vlog).
I hope everyone enjoyed the vlog this week, Nic will be back next week with the regular Helcim updates.