This summer provided me with one of the most intense learning experiences I’ve ever gone through in an 8 week period of time. Because I was at a start up, I was expected to get up to speed and start making an impact in as short an amount of time as possible.
Through my experience at LiveIntent and the Summer Innovation Program, I gained a deeper insight into (1) the processes and daily minutiae that companies experience every day, (2) the power or influence of one person to change how something is done, and although cliche, learned to apply this type of initiative to my life: (3) go out and prove something by building a prototype, base it on some sort of data, and it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.
To address the first part, every business must facilitate communication between its employees. At LiveIntent, we had meetings every single day at 9:30 to meet with the front end and back end engineers and an additional engineering team based in Argentina. When I first started in June, Skype audio was the preferred platform. In the next two weeks we switched to a different platform and bought and installed a speakerphone to improve volume and clarity. LiveIntent hired someone new during my last two weeks, Anna, and she implemented google hangouts. For the two years that LiveIntent has existed, the employees in the US had never met the ones in Argentina or even saw their faces despite speaking for a half hour a day and emailing back and forth. The obvious result was increased communication and stronger relationships with the engineering team in Argentina as well as a more human and enjoyable morning experience. Improvements, suggestions, and implementations like these work together to create a company culture and it was cool to see how Anna successfully navigated this despite her short tenure at LiveIntent.
Secondly, I enjoyed the challenge from my coworkers when I presented new ideas. Working in an industry I previously knew nothing about, I felt that my ideas would be useless or uninformed and during meetings, coworkers would ask deeper questions to see the weak points of my analysis or decision-making process. Through this constructive challenging I quickly understood that any decision must be backed up by some sort of data no matter how small. Exemplifying this principle to an extreme, Marissa Mayer once tested 41 shades of blue (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/01/business/01marissa.html?_r=0). However this does prove that there is always a way to take bias, human error, or other forces that work to obscure truth and reality out of the equation.
All in all, I had a great summer and it was an optimal experience for me at this point in my life.