Our guest is COO Alliance Member Jennifer Leech, COO & Founder of Truss.
Proper communication is a benchmark of good leadership. Jennifer LeechÂ lives by this principle as the COO of Truss, a software and consulting company that helps teams work together to quickly and securely produce high quality, iterative software. Jen has doubled the performance of APIs operating at rates of over 10,000 requests per second and led petabyte-scale data analysis operations, saving millions of dollars per annum. She has experience at nearly every level of the stack from user-facing applications down to and including silicon. In this conversation with Cameron Herold, Jen talks about having the confidence to communicate openly and truthfully with your superior, the habits and skills that should be developed over time in your role, and effectively describing the vivid vision to resonate and communicate authenticity with others. Plus, get an insiderâ€™s view of the evolution of Truss from being a product group to becoming a consultancy.
Get Cameronâ€™s latest book: The Second in Command â€“ Unleash the Power of Your COO
Subscribe to our YouTube channel â€“ Second in Command Podcast on YouTube
Get Cameronâ€™s online course â€“ Invest In Your Leaders
JenÂ has doubled the performance of APIs, operating at rates of over 10,000 requests per second, and led petabyte-scale data analysis operations saving millions of dollars per year. She has experience at nearly every level of the stack from user-facing applications down to and including silicon. Jen earned Highest Honors in her degree of Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering at UC Santa Cruz. In her free time, she enjoys designing systems, ranging from electronics for interactive fire art to thriving zero-water-use native gardens in the desert. Jen, itâ€™s great to have you on the show. Thank you.
Thanks for having me.
I have no idea what that means, about the performance of APIs operating rates. You need to give us a little bit more of a layman’s terms on what that means. Tell us about how Truss works as well, the company that you’re COO of so we know who you are.
I shifted roles from engineering capacity to operational capacity a few years ago. That is targeted towards my previous work. A lot of the work that I did previously involve looking at performance optimization and designing scalable systems that could handle arbitrary amounts of load.
Give us an example of what that means because you’re on the technical engineering side. Are you pulling data in from one side and pushing it out the other for users?
As an example, one of the projects I worked on was a big data pipeline processing medical records. In this case, taking medical records from lots of different providers with different kinds of electronic formats. Weâ€™re getting them into a data pipeline where analysis can be performed in the records and machine learning stuff to then derive useful information to make predictions about the data or to make assessments about the data.
That makes sense. It’s funny because I used to run a private currency company. Itâ€™s like what Bitcoin is now. We ran one many years ago and I was at the border having to explain this. I realized that I needed to simplify it quickly or the guy was going to lock me up and throw away the key because he didnâ€™t understand. Heâ€™s like, â€œYou’re printing money?â€ I’m like, â€œNo, Iâ€™ve got to rephrase this answer.â€Â Youâ€™re one of the three cofounders of Truss. Walk us through what the three of you were thinking when you started the organization and what Truss does, and we can go in from there.
When we first started Truss, the three of us had decided that we wanted to build a company that we wanted to work at. Coincidentally we were from the same previous company. We decided to leave within a year of each other and ended up finding each other through the network. I’m looking for a cofounder who’s available. I was looking around and we were familiar and have respect for each other’s work, and have some sense of working style. It was enough to try something out.
What does Truss do for their products and services?
We’ve evolved over the years. We started as a product company then we evolved into a consultancy. We are a consultancy that is building software products for clients. Our primary markets are in the government space. We also do quite a bit of work in healthcare and we’re doing some work with large databases of genomes as well. The tendency tends to be environments where there’s a high need for security, correctness and the ability to shift quickly.
Iâ€™m curious about how you decide as a company to evolve from a product company to a service company. What discussions were happening at that stage or at those stages?
When we began as a product company, we built our product and it was an iOS application called Leave Now. It will look at your calendar and it would do things like look at your mode of transportation. It looks at real-time traffic conditions and figure out when you have to leave and give you a little notification. It was a feature that ended up getting built into iOS and Google natively later, but at the time it didn’t exist. We built that and we had to let go of it. There are all sorts of things that we hadn’t figured out yet about how to run that. There are all sorts of things that were not working great about the product.
Long story short, we ended up doing consulting work in the meantime to bring in some cash since we didn’t have any revenue at that time. For about a year and a half or so we tried to make the product work and after that we looked at it and weâ€™re like, â€œOur money is coming from our vacation.â€ We sat down and gave ourselves a good month or so. We did this exercise where we thought through a whole bunch of different product ideas that we had that were lingering, things that we thought we wanted to work on. We did some customer development research. We went and talked to people if they had use for these things. We tried to figure out if there were markets for them. At the end of that month or six weeks or so, we had this decision moment where we said, â€œBased on the data, which way are we going?â€ We then made that decision.
I love the whole follow the money idea where you saw it coming in. You recognized all of a sudden that it’s easier to keep going down the path that you started on. You probably had to cut some people as well at that stage.
We were only three people. We had contractors that we were working with but no employees.
You decided to go off and go into the consultancy side of things. How did the three of you decide who was going to do what? Had that already started to evolve over the first eighteen months?
To start with, as a consultancy, myself and my Cofounder, Mark are the two engineers on the team. To start with, we were leading projects. It was completely out of the necessity of how you run the economics of the company and expertise. Our expertise was in running projects so that was what we did to start with. Everett did all the biz-ops stuff and sales as well. As things progressed and we began to grow, then I began to shift.
I want to go back to when the three of you were working in that company and talk about what your experience was. You were working at a former company, then you decided to quit and do this entrepreneurial thing. What was going through your mind to be able to do that? That’s a huge shift that 97% of people never make.
The shift started in a way years earlier when I had started a new role in a new company and I had for a number of reasons, which I won’t get too deeply into. I had decided that I was going to go all-in and re-examine all of my preconceptions about what my job was and my career. I am looking for actual original research on what constitutes a successful engineering career. I was surprised to find research talking about the top three skills in this particular research that was from Bell Labs. Number one was initiative, as a skill that would yield good results. Number two was leveraging other people’s work, which is interesting. It never occurred to me that thing was important. The third thing was self-management.
Self-management also ties into introspection where you blame yourself instead of others for something. You look to your contribution to the problem versus blaming the outside world.
Yes, that’s true.
You saw those three traits in yourself then.
No. I thought I didn’t have them. Self-management I had, but the first two I didn’t, not the way I needed to. What happened is I set about to build those traits. I started at the top of the list. I worked on them one at a time, building habits around them until I was doing them without thinking about it. I start with initiative. I spend three months where every task that I did every day, the first question I would ask is, â€œHow can I use more initiative in this task?â€ By the end of three months, I did it constantly without thinking about it. For the next three months, I did, “How can I leverage somebody else’s work for this?â€ At the end of that and training myself to do that, I began naturally thinking about the business that I was working in holistically. In order to take more initiative in something, you have to have a lot of contexts. You have to go and learn why something matters and what the dependencies are.
As I began doing that, I began thinking about what are the things that matter for the business and trying to understand this deeply. For the first maybe 2 or 3 years of the business, I was okay with where this is heading. By the time we got to the fourth year, I began to be strongly misaligned with what the leadership was doing. To be fair, the leadership changed twice in that time. The CEO changed twice. At the same time, with all this initiative and thinking about the business things that I’ve been doing, I had strong ideas about what I thought the business should do. I looked at the situation and evaluated it. I was like, â€œChances are that the only way I’m going to be able to do these kinds of things in business is by doing it myself.â€
You had that entrepreneurial seizure there. Did you know what you were going to quit and do or was it like, â€œI need to go and then I’ll figure it out?â€
I knew what business I wanted to build as in the kinds of behaviors, environment and outcomes, but I had no idea about the product and behaviors in the business.
What size was that company roughly in terms of the number of employees?
The previous company, when I joined, they were about 150. They went up to around 250, and because of the layoffs, it went back down to a little over 100 and grew again to 200. It was in that range.
How many guys have you got at Truss?
That’s a pretty huge shift to go from the 100 to 250-person company to quit and go back to a group of 3 or 4 for a year or two. What was that like? Because there are not a lot of COOs or even cofounders that have done that big change for such a long period. Youâ€™re now back into a zone that you’re probably more comfortable in lots of people. What was it like for the first couple of years?
I was comfortable in a three-person company. Part of that is the degree of confidence I had with my cofounders. Theyâ€™re a pleasure to work with. We had a high degree of trust already before going into it. It’s interesting, there are a couple of stories that were real signifiers for me that predicted that. One of them was when I first met Mark, the CTO. My first real substantial interaction with him at work was when I was telling him that his design was bad. He was senior to me and I was telling him that his design is bad, and heâ€™s saying, â€œYou’re right.â€ I had this moment of, â€œThis guy is good.â€
Did you always have that confidence to speak out all the way along? Was that something that you’ve learned and have groomed?
I would say it’s a virtue and a flaw that it was always there.
It’s powerful. I’ve probably loosely and inaccurately described it as having Tourette’s at times. I feel like I’m on the spectrum for Tourette’s, which includes thinking out loud. I don’t have a filter so I say stuff. People highly trust that because we don’t hold back. We say what we feel, and feel what we say. Sometimes later we go, â€œOh, crap.â€ There’s something endearing about that in the leader. That’s probably one of the reasons why you’ve been so good in your role. Would that be accurate? Would you say it’s a curse as well?
It can be an asset and a curse. It depends on partly what you say. When you just say your mind and for me, it’s often highly analytical. Some people love that and some people hate it so I have to figure out how to modify that for the audience.
I’ve got a friend of mine who’s an engineer. I get that sense from him too. Mine is often fueled if Iâ€™ve had any drinks. I’m like, â€œIâ€™ll regret that one later.â€ Sometimes it comes out with too much passion that I didn’t intend to come out with and it’s like, â€œI donâ€™t know what that was all about.â€ You talk to something that I was intrigued with around the building of habits. I’m going to flag that because there was some interesting thought related to how you identified habits that were going to be good for you as an entrepreneur and habits that you had to work on. You then figured out how to build those habits. What habits or skills are you working on with yourself?
I usually have one main priority that I’m working on at work. I also have an overarching theme of something that I’m studying and trying to get better at. The theme that I’m working on at work now is developing our strategy proficiency as a company. That’s more gathering a lot of data, doing research, and trying out something that is useful and actionable for the team. From the personal development side, one of the main things that I’m working on is getting better at what I have learned to call, going on to the dance floor.
This is the base of an awesome metaphor that Christina Harbridge gave me. She calls it laying down a beat. The story is you go to aÂ wedding and there’s a great DJ. He plays a record that everybody’s like, â€œThat’s a good one.â€ They get on the dance floor and start dancing. It completely melds in like liquid smooth. Everyone’s grooving and getting excited. All of a sudden the next DJ comes on and completely breaks in the groove. All of a sudden, everybody walks away from the dance floor. Theyâ€™re like, â€œI don’t want to be there anymore.â€ That notion of figuring out how to play the record that’s going to get everybody dancing, she calls it laying down a beat.
Is that something you’re trying to lay down a beat that’s consistent over 1 or 2 years, a week, a month? What’s the ongoing theme?
To lay down a beat notion when applied to an organization means communicating to your audience in a way that will resonate. When they hear the thing that you’re saying or a message that you’re trying to convey, they start nodding along. They can see themselves and identify with what you’re saying in such a way that they feel they’re part of what you’re saying. Getting on the dance floor part of that is in order to lay down a good beat as a DJ, you can’t do that without dancing. You have to get on the dance floor and dance to understand what it feels like to have a good beat in order to lay down a good beat. The thing that I’m working on is getting better at getting on the dance floor and feeling the rhythm of the organization. When I need to say something, communicate or understand what they need to hear, I have a better sense of how to connect with people.
Can you describe what that beat of yours feels like? Is that asking someone to describe what having sex feels like? Are you the only one that can feel your beat?
No, that’s the idea. It should be something that’s a shared experience. The question is, how do you communicate something that becomes a shared experience?
Could you describe it and it appears in a job description so people understand the beat they’re going to walk into in the company. Is that what where you’re going with part of this? I think Iâ€™m grasping this.
Are you looking for a concrete example? Would that help?
I was wondering if you can describe it. Can you say, â€œThis is the beat that I am laying down in the company or for myself?â€
Every communication is a beat of some kind. It’s a question of how people can see themselves in what you’re saying. There are intentional company beats that we layÂ down as an example for our company values, purpose and vision. We have vivid vision and we have BHAG. Those things are beats that we need to lay. We have to figure out how to talk to people in such a way that they resonate. The vivid vision is that in a nutshell. That’s what a vivid vision is for. It’s for you to figure out how to connect with people in a way that they can understand, feel and sense.
When other people read it, they resonate with that. What’s yours? How do you describe Jen to us as a leader? I get a feeling you are exactly who you are now because I’m sitting listening to you and I get a feel for who you are. I spent a couple of times with you at the COO Alliance. I get a bit of a read. Are you the same at work? Are you the same with your friends too? I get this feeling that you would be.
I try to be.
That’s the truth that comes out in us. That’s one of the things I’ve always liked about Christina. I first met her when she was speaking on stage. I’ve hung out with her personally. I parted with her and I’ve seen her speak again. I brought her in as a speaker and she’s consistently consistent. She is always Christina. I even read her stuff on Facebook. I’ll read her post and itâ€™s even in her same voice.
She’s authentic all the time.
Is that what the laying down a beat is? Youâ€™re deciding who you are and showing up that way consistently?
That should be. You’re way more effective at doing it if you’re thinking about authenticity. Something that we’ve also been learning as a leadership team is how to be more authentic. There’s this tight rebalance of needing to make sure that you communicate the right information at the right granularity, at the right people at the right time so they aren’t either motivated to unnecessary panic or its actions that aren’t going to drive you forward. Itâ€™s the right communication, but you also have to do that in a way thatâ€™s not fabricated or overly constructed. The struggle of how to remain authentic while also not communicating the right things at the right time.
Iâ€™ve got to ask you a question. We’re sitting in the midst of the Coronavirus issue. They’re canceling people coming into the US, and they’re shutting down governments and schools. There’s a run on toilet paper even on Amazon. How do you communicate as a leader with your team now to keep business going forward, but also to be empathetic? I don’t know where you lie on the spectrum of fear to rationality. How are you operating as a leader in this because we havenâ€™t dealt with anything like this.
My cofounder, Mark gave an update to the company. We have an all-hands every Friday. We’re distributed so it’s all virtual already which helps. That touched on a lot of points. It was a delicate communication to talk about this stuff. One of the things that he did that was effective is he talked about some of the experiences that people are having throughout the company, and new things that we are having to contend with on a personal basis. He talked about concrete actions that individual people could be doing in their day-to-day work that would help either themselves or other people. He tied that into some of the things that are good that are happening now for our company. There were some wins people in our company have had. I’m celebrating some of those things and left it at that. It was an immensely effective communication.
I like the whole giving them some concrete things that they can do. I said something publicly around where we are now. I said, â€œRight now, leaders need to lead more than ever because of the 97% that need to follow and that are looking to be led. There needs to be a voice of reason, calm, sincerity, humility, stability and action. Here are some stuff.â€ It’s an interesting time now as a leader for this. Some companies are more so than others. Some are being impacted drastically, whether you’re in the events business, running with large groups of people or whatever. On your learning journey as a leader, how do you start to decide? You said you have one theme and one priority per year that you pick. How do you decide to pick those? Do they come to you or is it every January 1st? Does it happen in the flow?
To be honest, the way that we have done that has been through necessity, historically. In the last couple of years, we doubled every year and certain strategic goals became obvious. It was like, â€œWe have to do this or else we’re fucked.â€ As a consultancy, in 2019, we had one client at the beginning of the year, which was 85% of our revenue. Furthermore, there was a lapse in their payment schedule due to an error in their database. It was a serious threat. It became clear that we needed to have a company that could withstand failures for a client to pay for longer periods of time that we had planned for etc.
That’s a pretty scary one to course-correct over. I’m thinking about the size of your company and some of the lessons you can give us. I heard a saying or a concept years ago that it’s about the 1s and 3s, and that a company drastically changes at every 3 in 1. When you’re 3 employees to 10, itâ€™s changed. When you go to 30, it’s changed. When you get to 100, it’s changed. When you get to 300, it’s changed or when you’re 100,000, 300,000, 2 million, 3 million, 10 million, 30 million 100 million. Can you give us some of the changes that you’ve seen over the years as you’ve scaled and how you’ve had to adapt as a leader? Do you want me to walk you through some specific questions about each stage youâ€™re in?
That might be a little bit better because there are so many things that have changed.
When it was just the three of you, you were figuring things out, acting as a team, and coming up with a plan ready, break, talking constantly, whatever. When you have ten, somebodyâ€™s managing some people and somebody’s not. Somebody’s got direct reports that don’t report to them. What changed for you at that point? What was the transition like up to 30 when you had a management team or some managers now with people that didn’t even report to you?
For us, it was from 3 to 18. Once we decided to hire employees, we rapidly grew to eighteen. We stayed there for a little while, for 1 or 2 years at least. In changing from 3 to 18, one of the big things was we did a good job with our hiring processes right off the bat. Weâ€™re smarter, luckier, both or something. Itâ€™s largely the same now with what it was then, which is bizarre. Some of the employees that we were targeting were the wrong employees. We didn’t realize how much support junior folks would need. We hired on a mix of senior and junior folks, but it was publicly around 50/50, maybe a little weighted towards the junior folks. We weren’t able to support them as much as they needed. We weren’t able to provide the training and the guidance, and being there when they need somebody to be there at the level that was necessary. That was a lesson we learned and we began to rebalance that within a couple of years.
As you scale from that up to the hundred, it’s a completely different business.
It is completely different.
You’ve got employees walking in the door that you don’t know their name. You’re not at the stage yet where you don’t know what business area they’re in, but you certainly don’t know all their names.
Iâ€™ve been surprised by a couple of names. I’ve mostly kept track partly because we have an office channel in Slack where all offers go so I usually see, but I missed a couple.
I met someone one time in an elevator at a conference. He said that he worked at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. I’m like, â€œWhat year?â€ He said, â€œ2006.â€ I’m like, â€œI was the COO for that whole 6 to 7-year period.â€ He goes, â€œI didn’t meet you then.â€ I’m like, â€œYou don’t remember me?â€ He goes, â€œNo, I don’t remember you at all.â€ I’m like, â€œHow’s it possible that you were one of the employees and you didn’t know the second in command of the company?â€ That’s extraordinary to me but you realize we were 248 people at the head office and 3,000 systems-wide. He had no idea who I was. Has politics crept into your organization yet?
This is the thing that I’m starting to see. People are further away in networks so it’s more likely that they’ll have stories in their head about what’s going on. We have to be more careful about what we communicate and how so it isn’t misinterpreted.
You set a good point. I heard a saying years ago, â€œIn the absence of facts, people make up their own.â€ How do you communicate the story that you want them to have in their mind versus the ones that they’re creating on their own? How do you recommunicate that so it stays clear?
Itâ€™s interesting because it ties back into the laying down a beat thing. One of the ways that we try to understand what we need to be communicating is by listening. Luckily with Slack, it makes it easier to get a pulse of what people are feeling, thinking about, and worried about as you can see chatter in certain channels. We have a random channel, general channel, a rage cage where people go when they’re pissed. We have a wins channel, where they go when theyâ€™re happy.
What do you pick up from the rage cage?
Itâ€™s mostly glee and joy, which is weird because people are angry.
Are they sharing it in an angry but funny way?
It’s shared angst thatâ€™s cathartic. Mostly that’s a catharsis.
Itâ€™s like the business equivalent of, â€œI dumped my latte all over myself,â€ and everybody laughs. It’s not like raging at somebody else or taking your anger out. Thatâ€™s where you go and yell at the other person. When you talked a little bit about learning and growing, it reminded me of a client that I used to coach from Geneva. He would go to Harvard Business Review every quarter and lookup Harvard Business Review articles or books that he should read tied to specifically what he was looking to learn this quarter. Is that how you’ve applied your learning as well in growth? It feels like you don’t read a book at random. Do apply it for specific reasons?
Yeah. When I go into a new area that I need to learn about, I do research on books, and HBR is a good source. I’ve learned to look for books recommended by executive coaches. They often have good lists. That’s where I found Scaling Up.
A perfect book for your size too.
Yes, itâ€™s good. It turns out that scaling up is one of the best resources I’ve found for references to other publications.
Verne is like an encyclopedia or a library. He’s an incredible lead.
Very intentionally it seems, he refers out heavily throughout the book. Itâ€™s like, â€œHere’s this thing that you need to work on, and here’s the book that talks about it. I’m not going to talk about it here.â€
Verne Harnish, who wrote Scaling UpÂ andÂ whose previous book was called the Rockefeller Habits. What I’ve mostly known him for years has been he doesn’t try to take credit for the ideas as being his. He tries to take credit for curating the best ideas on business, and then pointing back to those sources. Itâ€™s like, â€œPat Lencioni is the one for this. Jim Collins is the one for that. John DiJulius is the one for this.â€ It’s intriguing to see where other thought leaders are always trying to package it as themselves. It’s like, â€œI’ve heard these five other times. I know it wasn’t you.â€ Verneâ€™s done a good job with that, which gives more credibility to his tools.
I have no argument. The references I found in Scaling UpÂ are probably a third that Iâ€™ve had read, a third that I had on my reading list, and a third I’d never heard of.
Some are very eclectic. At the size that you’re at now, are you largely in the Bay Area, mostly in the Bay Area or completely in the Bay Area?
The company is distributed. We’re in twenty states.
Maybe that answers my question. My question was, how do you deal with the war on talent? By being distributed, did that allow you to get great people wherever they are versus trying to find them all in one zip code?
Being distributed helps a lot. There are a lot of people who want to work distributed these days. We’re competitive from a salary and benefits perspective. Aside from that, we’ve had a high acceptance rate on our offers because of the culture.
How do you work on your company culture when you’re distributed? What are the different things that you’re doing. Largely, what the media has reported in the wrong way has been all the perks and that’s not what culture is. How do you build a great company culture?
Having worked at my current company, which I’ve been doing distributed for years, and my previous company was distributed as well for a few years. I’ve beenÂ doing distributive for years. It’s normal. I don’t think of culture. It’s orthogonal to location. The things I would do for culture if I were co-located are the same as what I would do in a distributive company.
Give us a couple.
As an example, a big part of the tone of culture is set by the kinds of choices and trade-offs you make. An example of things that we care about at our company is that every person is given an opportunity to do their best work. We don’t want people to feel they’re being artificially forced into a box, where they aren’t able to contribute something that they’re passionate about and maybe good at that’s not fitting into that box. We want people to be able to bring the greatest offerings to bear in a work environment since that’s part of what’s thrilling about work. We want work to be a fulfilling place.
Whenever we make decisions about things that weâ€™re looking at is, how does this empower people to do their work better or have more autonomy in their work? There are all sorts of little decisions all over the company that bring autonomy and more freedom to the individual. One example and I mentioned this at the COO Alliance meeting, but we have an effectiveness budget every month of $150 per employee. Employees can spend it on anything at all that makes them more effective at their job.
I love that tool. If they think that they want a piece of software, they need a certain tool or they need a course or something, â€œGo for it. Spend it.â€ Thatâ€™s smart. I don’t know why I feel this because I don’t know the business or you that well yet, but I have a feeling you have done a good job on the interview part of your people systems in terms of interviewing and doing reference checks. Do you do a good job without it? If you are, what do you think you’re doing well without it or what can we learn from that?
I do love our hiring processes. There are at least three main components that are key. One of them is we require work samples for a co-working session or work samples from every employee. We see and understand the quality of their work, which we’re not incurring. That’s important. That’s been key. The actual technical quality of people’s work is super high across the board. The second component that matters is we have a robust behavioral interview that focuses primarily on how people work in a team and understands things like if you are a senior engineer and thereâ€™s a junior engineer on the team, how do you mentor that junior engineer? Is there ever a situation where you would think it’s okay for you not to mentor that engineer because we don’t think it’s okay. Itâ€™s a requisite for when you walk in the door. You must be interested in mentorship. You must be interested in helping your team. Have some empathy for others and some understanding and collaboration. The third thing is we have a strong technical interview as well.
I love where you started with behavioral stuff first and the technical, second.
We officially prioritize it. In our training documents for interviewers, the first thing we look for is communication. It’s not how they can formulate sentences well, it’s how well do they listen. Are they able to be succinct? Are they able to understand the intent of the person asking a question? It’s those kinds of skills. Communication is first.
Putting that in place because it clearly bothered you as some early-stage employees or it has bothered you in past companies that now you need it to be able to operate.
We started with those three priorities before we even hired our first hire.
It was the intent. It’s great.
Myself and my two cofounders had different reasons for thinking that was correct but we all agreed.
The key was that you decided as a group as to what the people needed to be like. You started to find the people that were like that and who have the skills. I had somebody who was hiring a COO for a 100-person company. He said he wants someone to hold people accountable. I said, â€œNo, you don’t. You want a COO who can lead accountable people. Hire a bunch of accountable people. You don’t need somebody to hold them accountable. Hire people that are accountable for themselves and you’re fine.â€ I could ask you questions forever because you are a genius and I’m intrigued by the business. I’ve got one final question for you before we have to wrap. If you were talking to your 22-year-old self and leaning back and saying, â€œJen, you’re starting off on your career,â€ and giving yourself some advice, what advice do you wish you’d known back then that now you know to be true?
What I’m thinking about is whether I would have listened.
Thatâ€™s what I’m hoping because you listen to yourself.
Thatâ€™s a whole other question. Believe it or not, the outcome is significantly more impacted by how well a team works together and not who is right.
The whole 1 plus 1 equals 3 or 5. Theyâ€™re arguing to be right. I’ve struggled with that for a long time. I’ve gotten past most of it now. Jen Leech, the COO and Founding Partner of Truss. Thank you much for sharing with us.
Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
That was great.
About Jennifer Leech
Jennifer has doubled the performance of APIs operating at rates of over 10,000 requests per second and led petabyte-scale data analysis operations, saving millions of dollars per annum. Jen has experience at nearly every level of the stack from user-facing applications down to and including silicon.
Jennifer earned Highest Honors in her degree of BS in Computer Engineering at UC Santa Cruz. In her free time she enjoys designing systems ranging from electronics for interactive fire art to thriving zero-water-use native gardens in the desert.