You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right
all right, all right
Have you ever had Grand Plans to Take Over the World? I have. It requires hunger, and not just the “oh I need a little snack, here let me have an apple” kind of hunger. I mean the kind of hunger that would be a lion’s roar if it had a sound. This is the hunger that will you lead down the craziest paths which turn into the craziest ideas which become inspiration that lights the way after you’ve been stuck in the basement working your ass off with nobody watching.
The sad thing about Grand Plans to Take Over the World is that, more often than not, reality overtakes them. Even if you have a firm grasp on your Plan, there are countless for it to be torn away and it’s usually taken in pieces over a long period of time.
The pieces of my Grand Plan are scattered across the skyline of Atlanta,Georgia, sunk at the bottom of the Tasman Sea off the coast of Sydney, Australia, buried in a server room in the heart of Silicon Valley with the final pieces washing up on the ever gray and windy shores of Ocean Beach in San Francisco, California.
I arrived at Pivotal Labs a shadow of the person who started this blog. I was missing so many pieces, I didn’t even know if I wanted to stay in tech at all. There have been many days when I asked myself what happened to that girl with the Lion’s roar. I wondered if she was gone forever and if it was time to just acclimate to the fog invading my head like the fog which so often invades San Francisco.
In my first week in Pivotal Labs, I sat in on a retrospective where lots of strong feelings were shared. When I pointed this out, a co-worker let me know, in writing, that empathy is part of the Pivotal way.
I don’t know why, but it seems that in so many work places, empathy and trust are checked at the door. It doesn’t matter if the culture is supposedly “open” or supposedly “no bullshit.” There are still a million ways to hide toxicity and mis-trust in what appears to be daylight. Open can mean many things including a festering, open, passive-aggressive wound that’s hidden beneath a t-shirt with a pithy phrase or a clever logo.
This is why I dismissed and completely ignored every ambition I ever had in tech and boiled it down to looking for the right team with the right culture. I decided it didn’t even matter what I did every day as long as I got to do it with respect and trust. I’ve found that at Pivotal in spades. A match was struck and a flame was lit. Maybe it was the tiniest flame and maybe my head was still cloudy with fog, but I felt alive again, and, occasionally I got to scream with glee and do a snoopy dance whenever, Elisabeth Hendrickson would show up to hang out at the Lab. (I think we scared some people with our screams.)
Everyone should have a list of people they scheme and plan to work with, and Lisa Crispin has been among those on my short list for a while. Aside from being a champion of collaboration, she is one of the greatest cheerleaders for trying new things you could ever hope to find. When she joined our team a few months ago, a window opened and daylight flooded through.
However, Lisa works in Denver and I work in San Francisco. We’re lucky that the Tracker team is willing to bring us together every once a while, but it’s not the same as being together in the same place. I could feel pieces shifting around me, but I’ve still had this feeling of, “now what?”
My answer came on Monday when I saw Elisabeth with an HR person in the closet. She was being handed the black track jacket all Pivots receive upon joining Pivotal Labs as an employee. If anything, Elisabeth is a catalyst for positive change and WE’RE WORKING IN THE SAME PLACE!!!! We can trade crazy ideas over lunch and I’m sure we’ll find ways to loop Lisa in with our crazy ideas as well. The fog is burning away and in it’s place, three Lionesses of Test are rising up at the Labs.
Alan Page’s tweet sums it up nicely:
We might be quiet for a while as we marinate in each other’s company, but rest assured, electricity is gathering at Pivotal Labs as it does before a powerful storm that shakes the ground. Am I making Grand Plans? Not anymore. Instead, I want to focus my revolution on today and what I experience on a daily basis rather than grasp at some mythical Grand Plan.
A belated blog welcome to Lisa Crispin and another welcome to Elisabeth Hendrickson. I’m so grateful that I get to work in the same place with you both. As the Beatles say, “it’s gonna be all right.”