I’m leaving Wyzebulb — Top 30 learnings over the past 3.5 years

I have worked at Wyzebulb for over 3.5 years. I am proud of the team we have built over the years and I genuinely feel that each of us has contributed to Wyzebulb in a positive way. I am also proud of the product we have built over these years. I have enjoyed working here and have seen ups and downs which have given me a plethora of experience, some of which I would like to share.

  1. Always be curious and never stop learning. If your learning stops for an extended period of time, it might be time to bring in a change. A change could be anything like a change of work, change of team, change of domain, change of job. You have to take a call as to which change could kickstart the learning process again.
  2. As a leader, it is very important to understand each person’s strengths and weaknesses. I feel this is a very important quality to have as a leader because it will help you delegate tasks accordingly and in a better way. This quality comes over time as you understand your team better by working more alongside them.
  3. Remain calm under pressure. This is an important quality for anyone, especially for the leaders. Going into panic mode in pressure situations doesn’t help anyone.
  4. As a leader, it is your responsibility to take hard calls, however uncomfortable they might be. When you are not satisfied with the performance of your team, it is your duty to talk to the people as a group or in 1:1 and to figure out why they might not be performing and what you could do to help them. It does not matter if the person is a senior, junior or your friend — the team is above individuals, always.
  5. Never stop marketing and sales. We did a mistake of stopping marketing and sales for over 6 months due to code/product re-architecture that we undertook. I feel it hurt us badly and put us behind by more than a year compared to our competitors.
  6. Factor in the unknown unknowns into your resource estimations for a project. While undertaking the code re-architecture, we did a mistake of not factoring in the unknown unknowns and the re-architecture took double the amount of time estimations given to the management. This is not a good place to be in for anyone.
  7. It is not a good idea to remain bootstrapped forever. I used to be of the opposite opinion but I have started to believe that a company should keep looking for investment and should get one provided the terms are good. Remaining in a cash-crunch situation does not do any good — you have to think multiple times before hiring an expert for a position, before investing in growing different teams, before competing with the market. Again, not a good place to be in.
  8. Hire experts for particular areas. Startups let you wear various hats and being a developer, you are intelligent enough to do various things. A developer can write code, write tests, do product management, do project management, do customer support, do SEO. It comes as a part of being a developer that we like to solve every problem we get. This ends up harming the company and the developer in the longer run. The developer has to context switch between these tasks and can never become an expert at any of these. They also need to work on areas which they were not hired for, which can lead to another set of problems. The company is harmed because it is not getting the quality of work expected. An expert developer cannot, most of the times, write tests better than an expert QA because devs are wired to check happy paths. This will lead to bad test coverage. A developer’s wireframes are going to be worse compared to a product manager’s wireframes.
  9. Hiring is not easy. Hiring has been one of the toughest things I have had to do over these years. If you can afford, get a good recruitment agency to help you out in filtering the candidates and only send the relevant ones for the interview. Otherwise, it is a painful process of going through all profiles yourself, calling up people yourself, interviewing them, and then they might end up not accepting the offer.
  10. As a leader, get used to delegating. This was also a tough quality to learn for me. I was used to doing things myself but now, when I was leading, I found out that I was biting more than what I could chew. I had to start putting my faith in people and expect them to give the same, if not better, output for a task.
  11. It is better to take a step back, think, and then take a decision instead of jumping into a problem head-on. Extra thinking and analyzing the pros and cons of an approach has never harmed anyone, but a wrong decision can end up costing much more. Don’t jump into problems headfirst without giving it thought and creating a plan for tackling it. Always have a plan B for your plan A. You end up choosing the easy way out if you don’t have a plan.
  12. Never jump to conclusions. Always be data-driven. Jumping to conclusions based on a small data set is always detrimental and is equivalent to shooting with a blindfold.
  13. Get out of your comfort zone. Keep challenging yourself. Keep doing the things you never thought you could. Just take the first step and the path will become clearer. Remember that all easy paths are not the right paths. As Master Shifu once said, “If you only do what you can do, you will never be better than what you are.”
  14. As a developer, invest time in your skillset improvement. Invest time in improving your skills. Take some online course, build a side-project, learn about new technologies. I’ve personally found Udemy to be a really good platform to learn any technology.
  15. Take care of your health. Personally, I have not taken care of my health at all over the past 4–5 years. I’ve always found an excuse for not going to the gym, not eating good food. Most of these excuses revolved around giving more time to the company. What I didn’t realize was that I was harming my own body and now I can see problems with it.
  16. Make time for your family and friends. This has been said innumerable times but I would like to reiterate it. Never let job come in the way of your relationships. A few hectic days are understandable but don’t blur the lines between work and life. Have a proper work-life balance.
  17. Have me-time. It is very important to have some me-time of your own to relax and do whatever you like to. Read a book, watch a movie, meditate, exercise. Do something but have some alone time. It will help you rejuvenate.
  18. As a developer, get 4–5 hours of good coding time during a day with 30 mins to 1-hour sessions. There are 100s of blogs on why context switching is not good for developers. Go ahead and read some of them. If you are not able to get 4–5 hours of distraction-less coding time each day with minimal distractions, talk to your team lead about it. As a team leader, it is the person’s responsibility to remove distractions for the developers.
  19. A few jovial people are required around the office to keep the office environment lively. You need a good mix of people around the office to keep a healthy environment. Wyzebulb has a really awesome, jovial guy around the office. The office environment is completely different when he’s there compared to when he’s not.
  20. As a developer, read the documentation. Jumping into using a package/library/framework/program without reading the documentation is never a good idea. You will end up making more mistakes and you will also not know the full capabilities of the program you are using. It is equivalent to having the infinity stones but not knowing how to use them.
  21. Everyone can’t be expected to be as concerned about the company as you are. I tend to get attached to the company and try to work as if I’m the founder of the company. I’ve seen a few other people do that too, but not everyone could be expected to be concerned about the company like you are. This does not mean they don’t work as hard. They will work as hard as you, if not harder, but their motivations and interests are different. Not everyone should be expected to be a founder/leader.
  22. Take a timeout when stuck at a problem. I’ve usually found that I come back with a different thought process when I take a timeout from the problem — have lunch, sleep, exercise, etc. When stuck at a problem, the brain keeps going at it without changing the line of thinking. A timeout helps reboot my brain and gives me time to change the way I approach the problem.
  23. Have periodic all-hands meetings. These help in keeping everyone on the same page and move towards the goals as a team. Not having these leads to a loss of direction, which is not good. I think a bi-weekly update with sprint planning along with a monthly all-hands is a good strategy to follow.
  24. Be aggressive in marketing. Try out innovative strategies. When you see that a strategy is not working out, it is better to change/improve it rather than keep investing in it as a sunken-cost fallacy. Also, try out new marketing and sales strategies. Be aggressive and keep going all out on it. If there is no marketing and sales, then there are no users. Then who are you building the product for?
  25. Be passionate. If you are doing something, be passionate about it. Otherwise, find something else you are passionate about. It could be a different line of work itself. Eg: We had a guy who left Wyzebulb in order to pursue his passion for directing movies.
  26. As a leader, you do need to manage people at some level. By managing, I don’t mean bossing them around. It means understanding them, their work, monitoring their progress closely, unblock them if they are blocked, fill in the gaps in their knowledge. Not everyone can pick up things on their own. A lot of people do require handholding and proper onboarding, especially during the initial stages, in order to do their job better.
  27. Have a good network. It is always good to have a good network you can rely upon in times of need. Wyzebulb relied upon the employees’ network to get initial customers. I relied upon my network during my job search. I also rely upon my network to get tech/personal advice. If you don’t have a good network, be friends with at least one person who has a good network.
  28. Be creative. Think out of the box. Usually, there is more than 1 way to reach a destination. Similarly, there would be more than 1 way to solve a problem. Try to think of alternative solutions when stuck at a problem. Don’t keep approaching a problem with the same line of thinking.
  29. Remote work does not work unless the expectations and result sets are clearly defined. We have tried remote work with multiple people at Wyzebulb and I personally feel that we have failed to get good results from any of them. I feel the fault has been in the process of remote working, rather than the people. If the expectations and key results are not clearly defined, it leads to long stretches of time with no progress at all.
  30. Know when to quit the job. Don’t ignore the signs your brain gives you when it is time to leave. I had half a dozen reasons to leave Wyzebulb — some personal, some related to the job. My brain kept giving me hints since a very long time but I kept ignoring them as I believed the things that I felt were wrong could improve and I could make an improvement. My personal breaking point came when I knew I got enough of these reasons and there was absolutely nothing I could do to improve even one of those reasons.

Wyzebulb has taught me a lot these past years and I am grateful to everyone in the company for giving me a learning experience. I feel there is potential in the product and the market segment it is in is ripe with opportunities. Also, being a marketing automation SaaS product, it is one of the companies which will not be affected by the economic slowdown that is going to hit in the near future. There is a lot to learn over here if you are interested and passionate enough. The entire team is really cool and are a fun bunch to be around. I wish Wyzebulb the very best for the future. Do visit https://www.wyzebulb.com/ to give the platform a try.

Hacking @sharechat | Previously Worked @wyzebulb and @babajob | Developer | Love to ask and answer questions.