Dec 3rd, 2019

Everybody Either Writes Code or Talks to Customers

Earlier this week I had a delightful conversation with Expensify’s founder and CEO David Barrett at the Digital CPA conference in rainy Seattle. We talked about all things culture, innovation and how to bridge those two spheres in front of a group of leaders and CEOs. When asked about his company (which is a/the leader in expense management software and a happy unicorn) and how he keeps people working on the right things (namely: innovating for the benefit of their customers), David made a punchy comment:

“At Expensify you either code or you talk to customers. There are no other jobs.”

As someone who likes to make and keep things simple — this is as a good as it gets: When everybody in your company focusses on, and directly contributes to, the value you bring to your customers, you are truly golden.

Yet how many companies do you know, where this is not true? How many, even relatively small, companies have people working on tasks which are seemingly important to the company, but don’t move the needle for their clients?

Of course, the world is not black and white. And once you become bigger you will start to have people focussed on other things than product and customers. But as a general rule I believe David’s point holds true:

Relentlessly focus your energy on the value you bring to your customer — even if it’s not directly affecting your client, keep asking how the task at hand supports her journey with you, your product/service and your company.

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