Thursday, May 19, 2022

Tim Fung on 10 Things He Learned in 10 Years of Building Airtasker

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Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

Airtasker turns 10 this month. It hasn’t been an overnight success.

Rather, one that has had so many ups and downs and ‘are we going to make it?’ moments. All of those have resulted in the community we have built today.

I’m writing this from a WeWork office in San Francisco—the first time I’ve traveled in two years.

And while it definitely feels like the world has changed towards more hangouts, more Zooms and being more remote, spending time “IRL” here in the US was really helpful.

Just walking the streets and being here has opened my perspective.

There are signs ‘we’re renting’ and ‘store closures’ everywhere. In our hotel, the manager on duty doubles as the housekeeper, the waiter and the bell person.

The labor shortage we are dealing with seems to be everywhere.

The world today is very different from all those years ago when we first started building the marketplace.

Here are some of the lessons the experience has taught me:

1. Don’t think too much about it

If you stick with an idea and plan too much, you often convince yourself that it’s a worthless idea.

If I had sat down at the beginning and planned the next 10 years, I probably wouldn’t have started.

2. Take other people on a journey

Share sharing hasn’t phased me at all, and looking back on Airtasker’s journey, I can say with certainty that it was the right decision.

I think a lot of founders want to hold stock to maintain control, but I think leaders have to earn their influence. As a founder, you should be the one calling because people trust you, not because you have more power.

3. Sleeping is an action, don’t be lazy

Sometimes you may need to attend a midnight meeting or answer an important email, but don’t make it a habit.

Instead of sitting in front of your screen until 2am, you can take a break, step back and do that job more efficiently when you’re rested and thinking clearly.

As a general principle, I think it’s super important to take breaks, set boundaries and do things right.

4. Vulnerability is a secret power.

As leaders, I think it’s extremely important to be vulnerable with your team and to recognize the times when you don’t have all the answers.

If things are new or difficult for me, I will acknowledge that from the start – I repeat that although I may not have done this before, I will still be 100% committed.

I’ve found that showing that vulnerability helps alleviate a lot of the discomfort (both my own and my team’s).

5. Be grateful.

Every now and then it’s important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and recognize what you should be thankful or thankful for — both from a work and personal perspective.

I think taking a little time to think about those kinds of things relieves stress, which can help you actually get some things done and prioritize.

6. Set boundaries for yourself

I have a limit that even during the busiest times I will try to leave the office (ie turn off Slack!) around 7pm.

We all have lives and loved ones that we need to prioritize – persevering is important not only for the well-being of leaders, but also for setting healthy expectations for teams.

7. Give yourself the morning

I try to avoid my emails as soon as I get up because I find it overwhelming and affect your mood throughout the day.

I learned during my journey that for me, exercise in the morning is crucial for a productive day.

8. Bringing great people together is one of the best parts

As we return to travel and real life experiences, we are finding ways to encourage people to network in the office.

We work completely flexible and that has been very positive for the culture in many ways. But we try to encourage people to get together every now and then.

So our Appearance team creates incentives for people to get together and collaborate and chat – things like free coffee and lunch.

I think it’s incredibly important to bring people together in the headquarters space.

9. Measure performance, not time invested.

One of the most tragic and slightly embarrassing mistakes I made in the beginning was sending an email to all the staff stating that working hours were 9am to 6pm.

Of course, that didn’t go down well and is one of the many ‘people’ mistakes I’ve made and learned from.

We have moved completely and now measure how you perform, the impact you create and not how many hours you clock in.

10. Try to catch people doing the right thing.

As a founder and leader, I spend a lot of time thinking about what we could do better.

But I’ve learned that it’s also super important to stop along the way and call out when you see people doing a great job. When you see people doing the right thing, make sure everyone knows about it.

Don’t let it slide!

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