When work makes you feel skillful and challenged, you’ll be happy, strong, creative, and satisfied. This is Flow.
Just like an athlete who achieves great things when they are 'in the zone’, you can significantly boost your own performance by triggering the state of ‘Flow’. Flow is that state you’re in when you’re completely concentrated and absorbed in the use of your strengths and find yourself performing at your peak for a fixed period of time (anywhere from minutes to hours).
In his book “Flow”, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi outlines 7 properties of flow. Fortunately, each of these properties can be influenced to some degree, and that is what I do with my clients. I help people trigger flow, in themselves and others.
Your Flow Checklist
Goal is clear- Flow happens more often in sports because a sport represents ‘a goal directed, rule based, action system’. Set yourself a short term dichotomous (you either achieve it or you don’t) goal that you can picture. This will draw together and focus your talents towards achieving the goal. The sense of challenge is motivating because aspiration releases energy.
Feedback is inherent in the task– When it comes to performance, it is very important to know how you’re doing in real time. This allows you to course correct without having to ‘think’ about it. Try to design your work in such a way that it is instantly apparent if you are ‘on track’ or not.
Challenge is stretch– Push yourself. Don’t try to do something you’re easily able to do. Some researchers argue that you should think you have a ‘50/50’ chance of meeting the challenge, as that will bring out the best in you. Don’t make it too easy, and don’t make it too hard.
No fear or worry – or extraneous input of any kind! All that enters your awareness is pertinent to the challenge, no distractions of any sort. That doesn’t mean you have no negative feelings, it means you ‘rise above’ them when you are completely focused and concentrated on only those things that are relevant to the performance.
You are absorbed in the exclusive use of your talents– You are only doing those things that are your strengths. The task is energizing, not draining. You actually feel your talent grow as you use it.
Time has no meaning – This is by far the most commonly reported experience of flow. You look up at the clock and are shocked that hours have flown by. For some, time flies, for others it stands still, either way, you lose your sense of time.
The task is autotelic - You love doing it just of the sake of doing it, the purpose is inherent in the activity.
Think of those things you love to do and are quite good at, and then think of ways to increase each property listed above and before you know it, you’ll find yourself experiencing flow more often. Remember, there is more in you.
Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best everyday?
Last week, we held a workshop that brought together leaders and tech professionals to introduce the concepts behind a strengths-based approach to personal development and managing teams. We discussed the benefit of knowing your natural talents, and using them to get the best from ourselves and our teams. We were fortunate to have Omer Aziz, an expert in the field, lead us through this approach. Here are some of the key takeaways:
Find your strengths
First off, do you know what your top strengths are? We’re big fans of the Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment as a useful tool to discover your top 5 strengths. These are core to who you are and likely won’t change much over time.
Focus on strengths vs. improving weaknesses
Should you fix your faults, or tune-up your talents? The data is undisputable. Instead of dwelling on the things we’re not great at, we can grow more by emphasizing the things we love to do. The light bulbs started going off and several participants said they felt liberated knowing they should be doing more in their areas of strength and passion, and not stress about their weaknesses.
Getting to ‘Flow”
When was the last time you felt completely ‘in the zone’ at work, where you lost track of time, forgot to eat lunch, and accomplished unbelievable things? This state of being completely absorbed and at your peak performance is referred to as “flow” (coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi). What’s the key to working in a state of flow? Use your talents and work towards a goal. The trick is figuring out how we can trigger this more often.
Using Strengths = Positive Emotions = Better Performance
When we are able to use our strengths we are happier and we get better results. When we enable our teams to unleash their strengths, their engagement increases and productivity soars. It’s a simple correlation, but the impact is huge!
Is there a dark side to strengths?
This was a fascinating revelation for everyone. Every strength has what’s called a “shadow side”, a way it can manifest and be perceived negatively by others. For example, if you have the strength Command you naturally take control and make decisions. This is an incredible talent for a leader but you’re likely seen as intimidating. In creative discussions, your team might shut down and let you take over unless you make efforts to promote a safe collaborative environment.
Food for thought
Omer left us all with a challenge, and we’ll extend that to you. Try to keep track of your ‘best moments’ every week. Write them down. You’ll notice patterns, and before long you’ll be more in tune with what you love doing. Now, go do more of that and watch what happens.
Compiled from several searches over the course of 2014, our VP Software Engineering snapshot represents candidate salaries from Kitchener-Waterloo, Toronto, London and Ottawa.
Candidates were working in various segments of the software industry including Enterprise, Saas (enterprise and consumer), Infrastructure/Network, B2C Web, Gaming and Telecom.
The scope of responsibility for a VP of Engineering is a key driver of compensation. Those with responsibility for building a team, leading a larger organization, or overseeing development of significantly complex or highly profitable products typically were at the higher end of the scale.
Getting to the Top
The best VPs of Engineering have a unique blend of high level technical competence, and the ability to lead very effective teams. They have vision, and can attract the most talented engineers, often building lean teams of top performers who have been loyal to their leader in more than one organization. They don't compromise on quality or execution and have a track record of delivering great products, on schedule.
Want to know more about our Salary Snapshots? Here is a little summary and some disclaimers. Show me the Money - 2014 Salary SnapshotsRead More...
At Artemis Canada, we have the privledge and opportunity to work on some exciting executive recruitment assignments with top tech companies in Waterloo and Toronto.
Through this work we talked to hundreds of tech executives and professionals about their experience, their aspirations, their motivations … and their salaries.
We’ve pulled this salary data together, scrubbed out any personal detail and packaged it up in Salary Snapshots to share with you.
But first! What would a report be without a few disclaimers...
1. Each Salary Snapshot represents between 15 - 50 sources.
2. Each source is a individual who we deemed a possible top candidate for a specific search. Most are gainfully employed and many were recommended as exceptionally talented. As a result, our salary numbers might be skewed towards the top of the range.
3. We elected not to show compensation figures related to equity or options. Though this was a significant aspect of the comp package for many execs, it's often tough to put an annual $ value on equity.
4. Specific details that would identify an individual or their employer will not be shared for obvious reasons.
Click on the Salary Snapshots below for salary graphs and summaries:
The secret to building an all-star team? Lead with your strengths.
What are your top 5 strengths? When you hire do you look to compliment them?
On March 25th Artemis Canada is hosting a breakfast workshop to help tech leaders discover how to leverage their natural talents when hiring and managing a team. We will explore the benefits of using a strengths-based approach to understand your unique skills to be able to build a team more effectively.
To help us, we’re bringing in Omer Aziz- an expert in strengths-based development with over 25 years of tech experience in business operations and human resources.
How can you find your top 5 strengths? Participants will complete the Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment prior to the workshop so we can debrief on findings, and use the results to drive insights into building individualized plans for personal growth and leadership strategies.
Sound like fun? The event is invite only... but let us know if you are interested and we’ll try to squeeze you in!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. Otherwise, stay tuned for more workshops to come!
You’re excited to get an offer for a great role with an exciting company, but what about the legal docs that you have to sign? Should you see a lawyer? Will that make you seem like you don’t trust your new employer, or that you’re not excited to join the team?
Like a prenuptial agreement, many people are worried about destroying the romance of an exciting new career by dwelling on the terms of an eventual break-up.
Most smart companies, while they are thrilled at the potential you bring as a new team member, are cautious about what might happen if and when your employment arrangement comes to an end. They want to protect their IP, their employees and their customer relationships. As a result, you are likely required to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (don’t steal our IP), a Non-Solicit (don’t steal our staff or our customers) and a Non-Compete (don’t take our ideas and customers to a competitor).
The simple advice is this - if you are concerned, talk to a lawyer before you sign. Your future employer will not flinch if you ask for a couple of days to run the docs past a lawyer so that you can understand what you’re signing. I think that there may be secret lawyer awards for who can make these docs sound most confusing and daunting - so don’t feel like a dummy if you need a translator.
Now that you know what you’re signing, you can decide if any of the terms are deal breakers. But know that few companies will agree to make changes to these standard docs if you have issues. It will require them to go back their own lawyers to review and approve changes. I’ve seen it happen with key executive hires, but rarely for individuals farther down the org chart. So you may need to make a compromise, but at least your eyes are open.
I'm going to let you in on a little secret. It's the thing that makes a great recruitment message stand out, and that defines a great recruiter. It's really simple. Maybe a little too simple. It's enthusiasm.
Maybe we just have the luxury of working with companies that are worthy of excitement. With innovative and fast moving companies, each new hire makes a critical contribution. When we start a new search and talk about a new role, it is impossible to not get excited.
This is not tail wagging, squirmy puppy excitement. It's genuine, authentic enthusiasm. It permeates everything you do and everything you say, and it needs to be real.
Here is what enthusiasm looks like:
1. The Company is Excitement-Worthy
Are you doing something that is truly innovative? Are your leaders extraordinary? Is the mission inspirational?
Your recruitment message needs to convey this, tangibly and credibly.
2. The Role is Critical
If you don't really NEED to hire someone to do this job, why are you bothering? Tell me why my impact will be key to your success. If the influence will be minimal and the contribution small, I won't be excited to join the team.
Your actions will tell me as much as your words. Act with urgency and you send a clear message that you are on a mission to find someone who will play an important role in your success.
3. You are Equally Excited about the Candidate
Tell me why you think I might be ideally suited to this role. A good poker player might tell you not to give up power in the process by telling your candidate why you love them. But it is possible to tell me how great I might be on your team, while at the same time determining whether I am the right fit. If you act with indifference towards me, I will most certainly lose interest and find an employer who will recognize me for all of the wonderful things I can deliver.
These three things should be the outline for how you write a job description and how you recruit someone at a networking event. One thing is certain, if you get the enthusiasm factor right, it will have a measurable impact on who you recruit and who you become as a company.
If you’re an entrepreneur raising capital, you hear it all the time:
people invest in your story, not your company.
Successful new CEOs seem to share an ability to share their story and engage an audience. They often have a personal tale of confronting an obstacle or needing a service that was unavailable - so they built a company to solve the problem and meet their own need. They weave a story of a big market with important problems, then explain their brilliant and innovative solutions.
And while the founding team and advisors are usually seduced with the same compelling narrative, the pitch weary CEO sometimes forgets that their story-telling skills are still needed once the money is raised.
Scaling an organization and hiring great engineers, product leaders, revenue generators and functional experts requires a incredible story. Where investors might be lining up, hoping to hear a tale of the next game-changer, your future team are busy in their current jobs. Recruiting messages just sound like noisy distractions.
Your story has to capture the hearts and imagination of this audience. You’re not asking someone to write a cheque, or risk a small percentage of their venture fund. You’re asking them to jump out of their current role and put their career in your hands.
The good news? You already have a great story, and this is where you start.
The most compelling recruiting message will sound like the plotline of a great adventure story. It will begin with the founding team, a description of genuine characters and the problems they set out to solve. As your story unfolds, the team comes together to tackle the beast of a problem, with technology and a little magic. Your narrative will highlight the battles won and challenges faced along the path. And then it will pause.
The time in the story is now and the next scene requires a key character. This hero will take the company through bigger battles, over greater obstacles and onto incredible rewards. And so, the question lingers “Could you be this hero?"
Your recruiting challenge as a leader goes beyond seeking out great people and delivering a pitch. You need to build a league of storytellers. You need to ensure that your recruiters, managers and partners all know the plot, the characters, the mission and the immediate challenges. They should know how to identify your heroes, and how to inspire them to drop what they’re doing and join your crusade.
The 2014 Canadian Innovation Exchange (CIX) was incredibly inspiring, and we were happy to be involved as partners for the event.
We were in great company, among Canada's top tech entrepreneurs, investors, leading companies, and industry partners. It was standing room only for many sessions, with over 500 attendees. The highlight of the day were 5 minute presentations from each of the CIX Top 20. These represented Canada’s hottest innovators, and they did not disappoint!
Here are some key takeaways:
Diverse Technologies: We were amazed by the diversity of the top 20 companies, representing a wide variety of industries such as: medical, manufacturing, energy, imaging, advertising, hospitality and financial. There was a recurring theme around driving actionable insights with big data and analytics, along with a focus on machine learning and the Internet of Things. It was great to see solutions for more mature industries such as utilities and construction, typically not associated with innovation.
Wearables = the new “it” thing: This comes as no surprise, but there was a lot of buzz about wearables, with 3 unique companies represented: InteraXon, MightyCast and VitalSines. Keep your eye out for more wearables and richer applications.
BIGGER and more established: The CIX panelists discussed how, compared to prior years, these top companies had already reached big milestones. Not only were we impressed at the innovation, but also the customer acquisition, metrics and go-to-market plans that are well underway. Refreshing that innovation is being measured by commercialization and not just technical invention! WealthSimple, for example, is just 8-weeks old and already picking up a lot of traction for their disruptive investment management platform.
Waterloo representing: Alright, we are biased, but we loved hearing the overwhelming praise for Waterloo’s tech community - a reccurring theme throughout the day. Bridgit Inc, a local top 20 winner, represented well, pitching their mobile SaaS solution for managing deficiencies at construction sites.
The day was really about valuable one-on-one conversations and the partnerships, friendships and business opportunities that will continue to unfold after the event. Chris Arsenault, Managing Partner at iNovia Capital said it well, “It’s not about having a contact list, it’s about having relationships.”
Overall, there was great excitement for Canada’s growing tech community. It’s amazing what happens when you get that quality and quantity of talent and innovation in the same room. We’re looking forward to attending the event next year, and fully expect to be blown away!
Somehow a year has already flown by and Artemis Canada is a year old.
We’ve had an incredibly successful first year - beyond my most optimistic projections!
This year has taken us into exciting new domains, with clients in gaming, medical devices, mobile payments, eCommerce platforms, enterprise Saas, network security, and industrial automation. We’ve had the privilege of introducing game changing executives, strategic business leaders and brilliant technical minds into companies that will change the way we work and live.
With hundreds of thriving technology businesses and start-ups, the Kitchener-Waterloo technology community has been an ideal place to build the foundation for Artemis Canada. Tech leaders and investors, both in KW and from the GTA and US, have welcomed us as partners, introducing us into incredibly innovative organizations that are prime for growth. We are proud to work with some of the Canada’s most exciting tech companies and are exploring growth opportunities that will take us into new markets.
This past summer we moved into our new offices at 187 King Street S (above Vincenzo’s and The Bauer Kitchen), where we share space with the talented and entertaining Boltmade crew. We also grew the team and welcomed Steph and Leigh to Artemis Canada. With their combined talent and efforts, I’m beyond excited about where the future will take us.
Thanks to my team, my family, my clients and my community for an incredible year. Stay tuned for the awesome things to come in Year 2!
We are a boutique executive search firm exclusively serving Canada’s Innovation Economy.
Our partners are the inventors, builders and leaders who are changing our world, enriching the lives of their teams, strengthening their communities and delivering valuable innovations to global marketplaces.
"I have worked closely with Kristina for approximately 15 years, reaching out to her whenever we are searching for the hardest to find skills. She understands the industry, she’s smart, she listens to exactly what we need, and she never wastes our time. Kristina, and the Artemis team, deliver time and time again. When we need an external recruiter, I find it hard to work with anyone else!"
Pete Devenyi, VP Global Software