COMPANY IS ALWAYS MADE BY TALENTED PEOPLE. DIALOG WITH LESYA ARNOLD

We dreamt for a long time to have an interview with Lesya.  

And now we will explain why. This person is a real mark of quality. In business, relationships with people and just in life. Lesya has always worked with great product companies that she chose solely by heart and principles. First, that was Playtika (now multi-billion game dev company), Indigo Tech Recruiters and Talkable (successful SaaS from San Francisco).

Indigo: on Facebook, you often mention Rabotun as a monster who catches off guard and is overwhelmed by the desire to work hard. What motivates you to be in such a state?

Lesya: I do not appreciate the word motivate. “Inspires” would be better :). Definitely people! My main fetish is acquaintance with talented bright personalities who, even if they don’t save the world, make it better by their presence. Recruiting gives this opportunity fully. This is a very special feeling when your day is filled with cool communication with people who built the first startup when they were 16 or wrote the first application at 12, or received three times the expected investment after several failed attempts. With people who create products in Ukraine and get users from all over the world.

 Indigo: I want to ask about your experience with an international team in the USA and Ukraine. How critical is it for a company to build a single culture if teams are situated in different locations?

Lesya: Common culture helps the team to interact as efficiently as possible. People feel each other well, all communications occur as quickly as possible. Time is reduced for the management of various issues that may require different solutions in different cultures. Well, and of course, you form a single unique spirit that firmly holds the team and attracts the best specialists in the market.

Indigo: what is the main tool here?

Lesya: respect is the core of everything. Talk about the difference. Spend time together.

Indigo: and how about something besides abstractions? What else is important to have in the arsenal? 🙂

Lesia: stand-ups, monthly/quarterly business reports, video chat rooms (if there is a choice between audio and video, choose a video). Invest in business travel trips of teams to each other’s offices. Invest in learning a single language in the company. And if you want, then the language of each other.

Indigo: Which aspects of American and Ukrainian culture should company combine?

Lesya:

  • Respect for personal boundaries;
  • balancing between “fast and not always right” (more often in American culture) and “slow and correct” (more often in Ukrainian culture);
  • the balance between “I can do everything” (more often in American culture) and “this is garbage” (more often in Ukrainian culture);
  • Ukrainian team should ask more questions, and the Americans should give more feedback;
  • Americans don’t like to share the details of their personal difficulties, and Ukrainians, on the contrary, appreciate the support. For example, a Ukrainian employee should not describe in details his diagnosis or symptoms, he also should not expect deep sympathy from his American colleagues, while American employees should understand that their Ukrainian colleagues expect greater involvement.

Indigo: tell us more about the differences in mentality and approaches?

  • in the US it is equally bad to be late and to appear at a meeting in advance. At the same time, in Ukraine to appear in advance is still considered a good tone.  
  • in the States, they plan to meet much more in advance than in Ukraine. Even with friends, it is considered disrespectful to propose a meeting earlier than 2 days (better in a week).
  • Americans are more open to changes and experiments.
  • Special attention depends on gender, race, age (especially in California). This is very much reflected in the language. For example, in some environments, it is considered absolutely unacceptable to call a woman “girl.”
  • Americans are masters of “small” (superficial) talks (in business, and society is an important skill), and Ukrainians like deep conversations more.

Indigo: what if we talk specifically about California?

Lesya: California is very ideological. After the second month of life in this State, your brain will have a reflex to turn off the light if you don’t need it, to save water and sort  rubbish, here buyers and users often pay attention not only to the quality of the product or service but also to its ideology, what kind of people create it. Personally, I became a loyal customer of Chobani yogurt after hearing Hamdi Ulukaya, the company’s CEO, his life story and knew how he built his business at the Startup Grind conference in Redwood City. And now I’m testing the delivery service of “imperfect” fruits and vegetables imperfectproduce.com . Their main idea is to minimize the number of products that are thrown away even from the farmer to the supermarket because of the imperfect shape or simply because the store has a surplus of some product, and, of course, it is cheaper for the user. A nice bonus is that my family significantly increased the amount of consumed fruit:)

Indigo: what do you think is important for a recruiter?

Lesya: talented recruiters market is no less harsh than the market of talented developers. I believe in talent and focus. I think that only when a person is engaged in something that they enjoy and what they are skilled in, can they do cool things. You will need completely different talents for recruiting and researching. These are radically different personality profiles. I have always tried to work with recruiters who, above all, have high emotional intelligence, for whom the interests of the company and the candidate are genuinely talented, who can determine a person’s talent and personal qualities that affect performance. Well, of course, who have a well-developed intuition. A recruiter couldn’t go anywhere without this skill 🙂 Yes, another outstanding quality of a recruiter is the ability to ignite and inspire. People are always looking for sources of inspiration, and a talented recruiter is just the person who can help see their most important talent and the opportunity to apply it most brightly.

Indigo: what do you think is worth paying attention to companies that hire A-players?   

Lesya: How to keep the resource status. A-players are the people who are most likely to fade. I always recommend to companies that hire top performers to pay particular attention to the resource status of employees. Yes, we are all adults, and we know our possible limits. But top performers always do more than is expected and often forget to take care of themselves. Similar attracts like, A-players attract A-players. And if the company has an individual spirit of perfectionism, then it is very important to force the value of rest. For example, at Talkable at some point, we realized that many guys in the team go on vacation too seldom. That is we applied a policy of unlimited holidays, thereby showing the team that the company sees value in maintaining the resource state. And do not be afraid of such a policy, if you have a team of A-players. By the way, in the Valley startups, the policy of unlimited vacations is widespread. It is also a way to trust the team.

Indigo: I know that you are an experimenter. What are you experimenting with now?

Lesya: with video messages. In general, I am a big fan of video communication. I still remember when I worked in Indigo, Anya Stetsenko gave the idea to apply to candidates through video, but then I never had to try. And now I’ve seen Lena Volk’s cool tool at https://www.useloom.com/ and use it to attract interest from the brightest and most inaccessible developers.  

Indigo: I like the tradition of leaving the reader in the final some glorious farewell. Let’s do that?)

Lesya: work only with people you want to hug. This is what I wish everyone. Your soul is the main filter 🙂

 

 

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