This week, one of my favorite human beings at IdeaScale is leaving the company to head to Witty Parrot, another Bay Area startup. I'm sad that he's leaving but happy that he found such a great opportunity.
I learned a ton from Hans in the time we worked together. Thought it was time to share those valuable lessons.
1. Be a Scientist
Hans has had many lives. He was a physicist in Germany, a painter in France, a cofounder of a startup, and now a Product and Innovation Management VP. Every time he approaches any situation, he does it with an open, inquisitive mind. He ensures he has all the information he needs and listens without any judgement. He asks questions to fill any holes. He comes up with detailed solutions and holds no resentment from previous relationships or previous project statuses.
This is effective for two reasons. One: you can think more clearly because you let go of any biases that may have clouded your judgement. Two: You're happier because you've removed yourself from the situation by being objective. It isn't about you anymore. It's about the problem.
2. Don't Stop Believin'
Hans is unfazed by failure or setbacks. He's fiercely optimistic. He stays up all night working to solve problems and he never seems to get overwhelmed because he always, genuinely, believes things will get better. I struggle with this one because I'm naturally adverse to pain or conflict. What I realized, however, is that if you give in to negativity, it does nothing but slow you down and paralyze you. Hans never let that happen.
3. See and Acknowledge the Good in Everyone
In every difficult discussion, I've noticed that Hans first voices his appreciation and validates others' feelings before voicing his own opinion. He doesn't try to fight with people or bulldoze anyone to try and get his agenda through. He establishes trust through acknowledging others. I saw others relax and listen more intently. I also saw them absorb Hans' opinions with a more open mind because they felt heard and understood. Again and again, potentially unproductive, conflict-heavy meetings morphed into productive working sessions with collective solutions because of Hans' trust-building approach.
I feel really fortunate to have worked with Hans at IdeaScale and I hope I can master these three lessons. Cheers to being an optimistic scientist who sees the good in everyone. And good luck at Witty Parrot, Hans!