If you don’t already know me, I am Emilie queen of culture at Wild Audience. 👸🏻
I live on an island in the Atlantic Ocean off the northwestern coast of the Scottish mainland. When I am not behind my laptop, I’ll be found swimming in the sea, painting or doing something outdoorsy. I also like to stay cosy indoors reading books by candlelight and cooking dinner with friends when weather-bound.
You’ll find a few pictures below to show you what summer is like in the Outer Hebrides and also give you a glimpse of my home.
I am very excited to be back with more insights and behind-the-scenes from Q2 2022. This time, we are doing things a little differently as I bring you a new format for our Transparency Report with the desire to be more transparent and authentic with you.
We’ve tried to create a ‘template” to follow for this report and I now realise that this report will always evolve and change with time. It’s quite funny as I am always the one to say that we need to be more consistent. Life is not consistent nor linear and we aren’t either. I’ll share my experiences, thoughts, and learnings as we progress on this journey and open up about the challenges and topics that are perhaps avoided sometimes.
With no further due, welcome back to our Transparency Report series! If you’re behind and would like to catch up on our past reports, go visit our Transparency page here where they can all be found.
Just in case you’re new to Wild Audience, we currently work on two projects:
Wildmetrics [Track email revenue, improve your funnels & get a simple overview of your business to achieve your next revenue goal faster. No developer or analyst is required.]
Wild Mail [Europe-based. Premium support in less than 1h. Get our free email analytics app for ActiveCampaign on top to make more money with email marketing.]
First thing first, here are some stats for Q2 2022 which you can find on Twitter where we post regular updates too:
Benji (Growth Lead) attended Patrick Wind’s event in Barcelona at the end of May where he did a presentation about Wild Mail. He also took some well-deserved time off to spend time with his family in the beautiful Costa Brava.
Pancho (Engineering Team Lead) has been thriving since moving back to Argentina with his partner Mona and the kids. They have found a beautiful place to call home and have been going on a lot of family adventures exploring their new neighbourhood and connecting with their community.
Andreea (Customer Support Specialist) has had a tough start to the year and it was nice for her to finally get some time off to do fun things. She got to celebrate love at a friend’s wedding, flew to Berlin for a little birthday adventure, and went hiking with her husband and dogs.
Alban (Fullstack Developer) also went to a wedding (I guess it was the season) and spent some time travelling around Europe with friends which included a stop in Germany to go to a festival. Alban definitely loves a good gig or a good party.
Basti (CEO and Product Lead) has been going on van adventures with his partner Lena, enjoying beautiful Portugal before summer arrives. He’s also been on a few surfing trips with friends.
Jason (Growth Specialist) is from the US and currently lives in Madrid with his partner. As you probably know, he joined the team as a Growth Specialist in April. When he is not behind his screen creating amazing content for you guys, Jason can be found climbing, exploring and travelling the world alone, with his partner or with friends.
Franco (FullStack Developer) who joined us at the beginning of June has been on a few adventures with his partner Dami to Cañón del Atuel (left), Desierto de Huayquerías (middle) and Potrerillos (right). He is based in Buenos Aires, Argentina not too far from Pancho which is super exciting.
Leandro (Tech Lead) has been spending some time exploring more of Spain, getting his van ready for the summer and spending a lot of quality time with his son Feli.
Myself (Emilie, Operations, People & Culture Lead). It was a busy quarter for me, renovating my van, taking part in an artist market, spending time with friends in the North East of England where I also did a surf camp, travelling to Scotland again and visiting my family in France.
Team meet-ups during Q2
Hiring and letting go of a team member
If you’ve read our previous report, you know that in Q2 we onboarded two new team members making us a 10-people team. This was a big achievement for us and even one of our milestones. As expected, we made some mistakes along the way and learnt a lot in the process. In April, we welcomed Jason as a Growth Specialist and after making a last-minute decision to hire a second Growth Specialist, we also welcomed another team member. It was a very exciting and challenging time for us.
Unfortunately, we quickly realised that things weren’t working with this new team member and we had to end our work relationship. It wasn’t easy and the biggest lesson was that not only did we need to improve our termination process so that it reflects our values but we also needed to improve our onboarding process to create expectations and avoid surprises. The way we handled it quickly felt wrong, abrupt and cold. It didn’t align with who we are and what we preach on a daily basis (communication and transparency). Letting go of someone is unfortunate. It will never be pleasant but we need to make sure we do it in a more compassionate way and that it only comes as a last resort.
At the time, it felt like a step back and I knew the pressure it would put on the growth team and the company in general. I felt like I had failed the team and our new team member. It was very uncomfortable. However, something we all appreciate in the team is our ability to learn from our mistakes, implement change and bounce back quickly. We improved our process and I put my hiring hat on again to find a team member who was going to thrive with us and be the perfect addition to the team keeping in mind the recent lessons learnt.
Hiring new team members is hard, it is so easy to make mistakes because you have the wrong approach or let yourself be influenced (by time because you are in a rush or because you only see/hear what you want to hear). It is a big responsibility and you want to get it right otherwise it will be stressful, uncomfortable and a waste of time for everyone involved. The reality of it is that sometimes you will get it wrong and while nobody wants to let go of a team member, there will be a time when the need arises. When that time comes, we will do things differently.
I think it is important to be transparent with you on this topic while being respectful (all about balancing transparency and privacy) and not pretending like it didn’t happen. Nowadays, we are quick to share the fun stuff but avoid talking about the less pleasant aspects of running a business.
A need for change
In June, Franco joined our team as a full-stack developer bringing the engineering team to four people. We now have two engineers in Spain and two in Argentina. Pancho was very excited and so was I as you can imagine. Franco’s arrival had a huge impact (he brought a lot of knowledge and experience to the table) and everyone started to feel the need for more structure and leadership.
On the other side, Bastian needed to remove himself completely from growth and marketing to have more time, space and energy for his product lead role. Leadership was needed for the Growth team and it is natural that Benji was to step up into the role. A big challenge for Benji stepping into fatherhood and Growth Lead at the same time. Life has a way, right?
There was a need for change as it started to weigh on everyone. The good thing is that our two teams were slowly taking shape and coming together which was positive and exciting. It was also a big change for me as I am not in any team. I am not attending the engineering or growth team meetings and I am not as involved as I was before (with support and growth mainly). This new position gave me a lot more flexibility and freedom which is everything to me. However, it also isolated me a bit more than I had realised.
The negatives of remote working
While remote working is appealing and offers many opportunities, working from home can leave people feeling isolated and unengaged. While we promote this way of working, it is really important to acknowledge the negatives too, because there are plenty. There are pros and cons to everything and remote working isn’t exempt from it.
In my case, I recently realised that my personal life and professional life are so disconnected that I sometimes struggle to manage both. I live on a remote island where remote/online working is still very new and pretty much misunderstood (actually it was the same on the mainland). The online world is completely different, with new jobs appearing that don’t really make sense for most people who are not working online. That’s pretty simple, I don’t know anyone who works remotely for an online company in my personal life.
My role is Operations, People & Culture Lead. Operations and People is usually easier to explain but Culture is a more difficult one. When I explain what it means to people outside work, most of them don’t understand the concept. The bottom line is that in my personal life most people don’t understand what I do. I also have this thing that I don’t want my job to define me so I just don’t talk about it. I now realise that somehow it makes me feel isolated and lately I had lost my motivation and passion/love for it. I was starting to feel disengaged and that actually made me question my purpose. I am aware that my recent life changes are heavily influencing this feeling as the gap between my personal life and professional life is even bigger than before. We live in a society where we dissociate everything, all the different parts of ourselves, our lives. It is exhausting and I definitely want to work on bringing everything together again. I recently attended an online event and started engaging more with people in the field and it all came back, the excitement, passion and thirst to learn and be better for the team.
There are so many solutions to change the situation around and here are the steps I am currently taking:
Talk about my job more often and take the time to explain to people what it is exactly and what it means to the company and companies in general as I believe that culture is such an important aspect for both remote or in-office work.
Connect with people who work in similar positions, engage with them and share experiences and knowledge.
Be more proactive again by doing research (listening to podcasts and reading articles) about culture and remote working and also by sharing my experiences with others.
Being aware of this happening to me makes me think of my team and what if some of them feel the same way?
Challenges of growing a remote team
So here we are, a 9-people team getting to know each other, learning how to work together, making mistakes, learning big lessons, and feeling the need for leadership and change while also wanting to keep what we have since the beginning of Wild Audience: deep relationships and strong connection. What makes us different is the core of who we are and everything we do: relationships, trust, and transparency. As mentioned above, my biggest priority is the well-being of my team (and that includes Bastian our CEO) so while I onboard new people I also need to keep an eye on the team and make them feel like I am here, I am present. I am here to listen and help them at any time. I am here to hold space for them and create a safe space so that they feel comfortable to come and talk to me if anything comes up and if they feel the need to. For that, I try to be as transparent and vulnerable as possible with them so that they feel like they can do the same with me. It’s definitely not easy and I am working on it (aren’t we all?). I am also here to remind them to look after themselves physically and mentally while also chasing everyone to take time off (yes, that’s correct).
Things I encourage the team to do:
Take more breaks to get the body moving and stretched as often as possible.
Go on walks or get moving during 1:1s and team meetings.
Take proper lunch breaks without the laptop to break the day.
Start the day doing something you love that is not work.
Take a day off to have a long weekend every now and then and simply take time off!
Be more flexible and have some time off during the day to do something else than work (sometimes you just need to).
This is also a good reminder for myself because I am not always following my own advice. I think I have said enough. If you have any questions or simply want to share your experience then feel free to do so via our social media or by email and I’ll reply to you in the next report.
Before I go, here is a quick update on what’s been shipped and what the future looks like for us.
Operations, People & Culture:
We improved our onboarding process.
We hired and onboarded three new team members.
We let go of a team member.
We changed the team structure (splitting into 2).
We introduced async communication.
We increased some team salaries to 34k.
Bastian started to hand over 100% of growth and marketing
Growth leadership & training (Bastian and Benji)
We introduced new engineering principles & ways of working.
We launched WMX 1.0.
We launched a new WM app.
We created a faster WMX dashboard & more graphs.
We introduced a new “feed” feature for WMX.
Onboarding our new team member Luis.
Launch of a new podcast by Benji.
Customer Stories by Luis.
New WM Help Center by Andreea.
Weekly youtube videos to be published by Jason.
Creating a new structure and leadership for the engineering team.
Improving the new WM billing app.
Wild Audience Team Vision Days.
Thanks again for following us along and for always supporting us. We wouldn’t be here without you!
See you in Q3 2022 Transparency Report 🤓