The One, The Only: Willie Alberty

Willie has been nothing short of an answered prayer, especially since I knew that I’d need a new technical partner and leader as we survive our pivot and start executing!

Although we’ve already made a small introduction on the daily vlog, I wanted to make sure you got an even better taste of who he is and where he’s from—this extended intro should do the trick!

The one and only!

On a personal note, I want to share a quick story on how I knew Willie was the right person for our team: He asked thoughtful questions that simultaneously revealed his perspective while challenging mine.

You see, in these precious moments in a super early-stage startup, I need folks on the team that not only contribute valuably to the product but also to the company herself; more specifically, the business and operating culture.

Willie was one of the only folks in my crazy-interview season who really dug into how things really are, not just what he could read on our open-source handbook or what I’ve written on this blog.

One of the more striking questions was around what the work week really looked like: Was this a 40-hour per week culture? Was it a 50-60 hour per week culture? Was it 100+ hours per week?

Or, maybe, perhaps, YEN was a “100 hours per week but we talk as if we only work 40 hours” type of company (I thought this, not Willie)?

Ooph. That thought may have stung a bit!

I could tell that it mattered to him and when we sat down together for our first in-person interview, I was ready. I told him that his questions challenged me to take a serious look at not just what we’re building but how.

Easier said than done! Truly! It’s been really fucking hard to do just 40-hours!

I told him that it had caused me a lot of anxiety, but, after working through my feelings and chatting it through with trusted advisors, I resolved that this was the missing piece in our new operating culture. I then said that I was ready for the challenge and that I was committed to making a 40-hour per week business, what some folks may call a “calm” company.

And (most importantly!) it was him that challenged my thinking and forced me to answer honestly about not just what I wanted to see happen (the so-called “ideal”), but a commitment to behavior that really modeled a “calm” company and reasonable work hours.

The reason I loved this so much because I believe having operating virtues, essentially an overview of how we behave as a team.

As Ben Horowitz likes to say (we’ve never met but I deeply respect him and consider him a “remote” mentor) in a now-canonized form of an amazing read: What you do is who you are.

In short, Willie made me want to be a better human being, for the team, our company, and our kickass community (the #yeniverse) because he challenged me to be better.

And I want to work with people like that.

I’m so glad that Willie’s on the team! He’s already contributed greatly to what we’re really building: Something that we’re both really fucking proud of.