Behind the scenes

Turning your career around: the real-life stories of 7 Hotjar team members

group of people trekking through the Swiss alps

First, a bit of context...

I was in Marbella (south of Spain), in the middle of June, with 38 of my Hotjar team members for our bi-annual company retreat. There wasn't one single cloud in the sky; the view from the swimming pool at the bottom of the villa was breath-taking: mountains, more mountains, and then, the sea.

marbella villa hotjar team
THE BREATHTAKING VIEW FROM THE VILLA HOTJARIANS SHARED IN MARBELLA (JUNE 2017).

Having started at Hotjar only a few days before going to the retreat, I found it the perfect setting to spend time with my new colleagues. Armed with my iPhone and a microphone, I sat down with a few of them to understand why they left their previous careers and how their decisions have shaped their lives.

Dealing with ‘head trash’

Have you ever felt like a fraud, thinking that your colleagues obviously knew much more than you did, feeling that you might be found out sooner rather than later?You're not the only one: it’s called the Impostor Syndrome, as defined by a report in the International Journal of Behavioral Science; people suffering from it can see their confidence and overall happiness plummet, which in return can have an impact on their professional performance, and ultimately, the development of their career.

When I met my colleagues Alison (Customer Success Manager) and Jason (Full-Stack Developer) they both seemed passionate, confident in their abilities, even taking the lead in many of the activities organized during the retreat. I was startled when they both told me they used to suffer from the Impostor Syndrome:

Jason Kelly Hotjar.png

Alison also suffered from the same issue, or, as her dad would call it, ‘head trash’ (which I find to be a much better description). She used to think she "wasn't good enough", had "this mental hurdle" that kept telling her she simply couldn't do what she wanted to do; she was too paralysed to even try something new and felt she could only stay in an area that she was already familiar with. Thankfully, she fought her ‘head trash’ and joined Hotjar:

As for Jason, who thought it was too late to become a developer, he fought his ‘head trash’ by taking some drastic measures:

It can be sometimes difficult to focus on yourself in this fast-paced world, but both Jason and Alison knew it was important to grow in their career.

Don’t let the little voice in your head get in the way of reaching your objectives. You are good enough.

Finding the right company

Mafalda (Hotjar Hero) is a Portugal native with a perfect American accent thanks to binge-watching many American TV shows. She struck me as a genuine, down-to-earth person, who cared deeply about her colleagues.

Mafalda-Hotjar-Hero.jpg
MAFALDA, DURING OUR AGILE TRAINING IN MARBELLA (JUNE 2017).

Mafalda had to deal with bullying in the workplace prior to joining Hotjar: her reputation was purposely undermined and she was repeatedly asked to perform impossible tasks with impossible deadlines. Those episodes had an impact on her well-being, which is now something that she talks about openly.

Mafalda knew she wasn’t working for the right company; she wanted to find a place where she could just be herself. She decided to quit her job. Some time after, she stumbled upon a job listing from Hotjar on We Work Remotely, a job board for remote companies, and applied.

It didn’t take long for Sara, our Recruitment Coordinator, to know that Mafalda fit the Hotjar culture of respect and honesty perfectly. She was hired shortly after that.

Speaking of Sara: even hiring specialists have ups and downs in their own careers.

Sara used to focus on trying to find the perfect role for her, without much success; there was always “something blocking or frustrating” her in previous roles. This is why she switched her thinking to find the right company, with the “right culture and mindset”:

Sara Bent-min

At Hotjar, we focus on hiring people who match our company culture and set of valuesperfectly. In the book “Good to Great”, Jim Collins argues that it is crucial for businesses to ask “First who, then what?”:

Jim_Collins-min

Next time you’re looking for a career change, try to find a company that shares your own values; you will be able to turn your career around thanks to a better environment.

Finding your ikigai

Have you ever had this feeling in your gut that the career you were into just wasn't right for you? This is what happened to Diana (Hotjar Hero Lead - US) when, after graduating from University, she started to work at Marder, Eskesen & Nass, a law firm in New York City.

Diana-Hotjar.jpg
DIANA (LEFT) WITH HER COLLEAGUES CHIARA (MIDDLE) AND KARISSA (RIGHT).

Diana comes from a poor family in the Dominican Republic. She worked hard to be able to go to college, and, when the moment came to choose her path, had no hesitation in picking law. For her, becoming a lawyer was the ultimate dream: she always had this image of those lawyers in their expensive suits, carrying classy leather suitcases, rushing to their next appointments. If she became a lawyer, she would have made it.

After working at a law firm for about two years, she realized that it probably wasn't for her: she wasn't happy, she wanted "to be more creative and have a life".She had glorified this path and was facing the toughest challenge of her career yet: should she leave or carry on?

The answer lies in her ikigai; a “reason to get up in the morning” according to Japanese culture:

ikigai
IKIGAI IS, ACCORDING TO JAPANESE CULTURE, THE REASON WHY PEOPLE GET UP IN THE MORNING.

Diana was good at her job, she was paid for it, and the world definitely needed lawyers; but she didn’t love what she was doing.

She decided to quit...

She took the tough decision to cut her losses early, breaking away from that “glorified path”, getting a job as a bartender to pay the bills, and while realizing that working more closely with people was her true passion:

But, “Quitters never win”, they say.

In his book “The Dip”, Seth Godin argues that winners do indeed quit, but they quit at the right time. So, how do you know whether you should stay in a job or not? According to Seth Godin, do not quit the things you can become the best in the world at (your ikigai). This is how successful organizations tend to operate: they quit things they can’t be the best (or second best) in the world at so they can focus all their energy on being number one somewhere else.

Persevering

Seneca, a Roman Stoic philosopher, wrote numerous essays about the benefits of perseverance (or, as he calls it, “tranquility”). He defines it as: “believing in yourself and trusting that you are on the right path, and not being in doubt by following myriad footpaths of those wandering in every direction”.

If you’ve found your ikigai, trust that you are on the right track and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise; things will pay off, sooner or later.

An example of sheer perseverance can be found in the story Christian (Customer Success Manager) told me. Christian was an officer in the Swiss Army for a few years.

Christian-officer.jpg
CHRISTIAN WAS AN OFFICER IN THE SWISS ARMY FOR SEVERAL YEARS.

One day, he and his group had to walk for 100 km during 24 hours straight through the Swiss Alps.

Hearing from another group that four people had given up had an instant impact on one of his fellow group members: his face almost instantly "changed color". Christian, realizing he had given up, carried him for another mile or two, and then had to hand him over.

Christian, on the other hand, didn’t quit. He carried on even though he wasn’t the fittest person in his group.

Christian-trekking.jpg
CHRISTIAN AND HIS GROUP TREKKING THROUGH THE SWISS ALPS.

What does this story have to do with turning your career around? Christian argues that listening to what others think is possible - and impossible - might lead to giving up on your career goals too soon.

Natalia (Paid Search Specialist) didn't give up on her goals:

Natalia-min

Natalia knew exactly where she wanted to go and stayed on course despite the numerous setbacks she had to deal with; this is a perfect example of what sheer perseverance is all about.

Don’t expect to achieve all of your career objectives immediately or to build your resume in a day; instead, trust that you’re on the right track and your patience will pay off. 

To summarise...

As you can see from the stories above, many Hotjar members went through difficult times in their careers they managed to overcome. Turning your career around is difficult and might take some time, but your efforts will be worth it in the long run.

  • Find your ikigai, your reason to get up in the morning
  • Don’t let the little voice in your head get in the way of your dreams
  • It’s ok to quit if you haven’t yet found your ikigai
  • Find a company that shares your values
  • If you’ve found your ikigai, don’t give up and keep going; things will pay off

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Now it's your turn: what is YOUR career story?

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