Last week Friday I attended my first non-Funk-e monthly wrapup meeting at Varias. It felt super weird.
I got to introduce myself and the plans to transform their now yearly Superconnectors event into a self sustaining business.
I’m not an employee of Varias, but since I am working with their founders and team to create a spin-off business out of the Superconnectors event, I am part of their extended team. I am also their direct neighbor in the co-working space, so I see everyone there all the time.
During the meeting there were plenty of seats in the front row or squeezed between other people further back.
Somehow I chose to just stand.
Looking back on it, it almost feels as if I was trying to physically signal “I am just visiting”.
An out of body experience
Standing there at an intimate company meeting that wasn’t really my own, felt like an out of body experience to me.
At Funk-e we had a very loud weekly wrap-up called F*ck-it fridays. With loud clapping, huge speakers and funny photoshopping of colleagues.
Here the essence was similar, there was still beer, there was clapping and presenting of team successes and learnings, but it simply felt different.
It had nothing to do with the people, but it had everything to do with me.
Shaping a culture to my liking
Ever since I was 19 I have never really joined organizations I didn’t run or shape myself.
I only had a 2 month waiter job in a restaurant and a terrible 3 month internship. That was all my experience in being part of a team that wasn’t my own.
This means that in the past 14 years I always got to choose my own team, create new rituals, and i was there every step of the way that this culture transformed or evolved beyond my control (both for the bad and the good).
Those weekly moments meant a lot to me, the culture of my own company would really come to life and I loved it.
Now standing there in that crowd, I experienced what it is like to stand on the other side of a culture that I didn’t help build.
This intimate company meeting suddenly carried less weight, the conversations with other employees were less loaded and I was more relaxed.
To the Varias team I am just this outside dude that is helping out build an event, I’m not their boss.
“Boss Alex and Weekend Alex”
Even though I enjoyed my own companies weekly meetings a lot, I always felt very conscious of myself in those moments.
I felt I constantly needed to be at my very best, and that these were important moments where a culture was shaped.
Now it was nice to kind of be part of something but not feel the direct responsibility to be the life of the party or to be “always on”.
I would focus more on conversations I would also generally have at a regular party in my weekends: what are you doing in the weekend? What is a broader opinion on particular topic? etc.
This more relaxed way of being part of a team leads to different conversations somehow. I would talk less about our work, goals and how the team was feeling at work.
This moment opened my eyes to how my role as a leader kept me focused on my company, but also didn’t really allow me to turn off “boss Alex” and just turn on “weekend Alex”.
I hope to learn how I can take this into the future, because “weekend Alex” should also be there with his colleagues.