Connor: Reflections

Connor.jpg

I was first introduced to ZX Ventures in the Fall of 2016, a month into my first year at Columbia’s Business School. I was sitting in the library, trying to figure out this whole modeling/excel thing I’d heard so much about, when a friend swung by and asked if I was going to the ZX Ventures presentation. Honestly, a little unsure of what ZX was, my plan that day was to wrap up work and head home. Luckily, my friend said the magic words “there will probably be free beer,” which was good enough for me.

That afternoon sent me on brand new path. The ZX Ventures’ employees at the event, who were recent MBA grads, impressed me from the start with the challenges and roles they had already experienced in their brief tenure at the company, as well as the responsibility they were given early and often. Their passion for creating the future of an industry was simply infectious. They weren’t shy about emphasizing that ZX Ventures is a culture-driven organization, a company that believes in true ownership. I learned how ZX believes People are their greatest asset, and that the best environment for their people is informal and meritocratic, offering roles outsizing employees’ experience to give them challenges they have to stretch and grow into. As an added bonus, the beer was delicious. I was hooked.

As a summer intern in the 2017 Zxlerator, I learned the “ZX Operating System,” a methodology for bringing a company from ideation to launch by actually doing it – rolling up my sleeves with a team and getting out in the real world to solve real consumer problems. I started to see firsthand that people at Zx didn’t just talk the talk about culture, I was surrounded by ownership. Employees of all levels would take the reins on massive challenges, bringing passion and creativity to launching new businesses with an obsessive customer focus. I lived the highs and lows of entrepreneurial life in the accelerator, and started to believe in the methodology that so defines ZX’s approach: identifying an opportunity, dreaming big in its potential, and figuring out how to efficiently execute the mission.

I knew if given the opportunity, I would join ZX Ventures full-time, but I was unsure about what my first role would be. Should I lean towards something in my wheelhouse, and leverage my previous experience? After the expedited learning curve forced on me into the new role of an entrepreneur over the summer, I decided to aim for my next role to be completely outside my comfort zone to continue this rapid growth. I ended up joining the Finance team this June, and have been working on ZX’s strategic planning and resource allocation processes ever since.

ZX Ventures is the kind of place that encourages these types of challenges. I’m often reminded of Pedro Earp’s comment at one of our school events, “we want to push people out of their comfort zone so that they are in a position to grow. We want to find that job that you may be uncomfortable in for six months, good at for six months, then great at for six months. Then we’re going to find the next job you’re uncomfortable in, and cycle goes on and on.” I’ve seen firsthand how this ethos combined with a meritocratic reward system empowers employees to drive their own career path, attacking new and exciting challenges that peak their curiosity and passion.

I’m just beginning my journey in this company, and while the innovative exponential growth challenges are amazing, the people inspiring, and the culture empowering, this idea of Sisyphean dedication to improving yourself is what makes me most excited to get to my desk in the morning.

From my position, I’ve seen the large challenges we’ve set for ourselves in 2019. We’ve continued the practice of dreaming big, and expect great results from our teams around the world. And while I don’t know what comes next for me personally, I can’t wait to find out which road I’ll need to rise to meet next.