It shouldn’t be a one person journey to do the breakthrough

Sarah Obermeyer

Today, everyone is constantly on the hunt for the next big thing. With new ideas, new ways of life come around and one can learn new ways to do old things. But with the ever changing world, something that should never be forgotten is the power of collaboration.

Recently, I spent time in the Bay Area as a member of a team with several other students from my university. During that time, I heard several unique stories, all from different individuals and all from different industries, about how teamwork can make or break a company.

Personal Life

Sima Yazdani from Cisco shared her unique story with myself and the other members of my team. She received a B.A in Computer Systems Engineering at Western Michigan University in 1982. Sima was ahead of her time in obtaining a degree at the start of an industry boom. However, she recalls that there were only four girls in the engineering program. She was originally considering pursuing electrical engineering, but switched her major to computer systems engineering. This was a large decision to make, and the switch forced her to show courage. However, she needed one extra push to take a jump in her career. Sima recalls that her brother told her that no matter her journey, he would help her and be there for her. All it took for her was that one person who would support and guide her, and then she switched her career path.

Now, Sima both works within and leads team everyday in her role at Cisco. The more her teams communicate, the more they perform better. Sima has seen the impact on what support can do in a personal and professional environment. Now in the fast moving world, she values teamwork more than ever.

“It shouldn’t be a one person journey to do the breakthrough,” Sima said.

In Teams

The kind of the support needed to enable breakthroughs is people who do one simple thing, say yes. It’s easier said than done putting trust in the team around you and taking on jobs you aren’t sure you fit. However, it’s simple to see team growth when you take on the tasks that are needed, not just the tasks you know.

In a startup, collaboration is the glue which holds the entire company together. At Shipt, it is seen first hand how the people who said yes, took risks, and trusted the team around them, helped scale the business to what it is today.

Shipt had to pivot from a same day delivery service of goods and then began to focus on groceries. During this shift, it was critical for those who worked there to wear many hats. For example, I was able to hear from Charlie McLaughlin, who got a degree in History and Political Science, and originally wanted to be a driver for Shipt in their early days. Despite this, Charlie was hired to work in their office. He learned that at startups, there’s less pressure to be an expert in what you do. Charlie said, “It’s better to move fast and break stuff.” This gives employees the chance to learn new positions and areas of knowledge, but failure is always embraced. By letting others fail around you, they are given the chance to establish processes and what does and does not work. It’s important to let the people around you be messy and make mistakes. Many times, this can be the only path for growth.

Business to Business

Although at many times, another cog in the machine is the last thing any company wants. Companies have to most fast, and adding another party to the mix could be the last thing anyone wants. However, employees, customers and businesses can all benefit when partnerships are pursued.

At Salesforce, one of their core values is customer success and the reason behind this is quite obvious. Salesforce will start to run into problems if the companies around them aren’t doing well. This makes the success of those they partner with vital. When business is booming for Salesforce’s partners, Salesforce is able to grow in tandem with them.

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

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