When I founded Lightspeed in 2005, I was a very different person than I am today. I was 28, had never led a team before, and my background was in programming and design—not entrepreneurship. The path that led to Lightspeed, and its rocket ship growth, included key moments where I actively chose a growth mindset. My story proves that one’s frame of mind impacts every aspect of their life and career.
A growth mindset is an openness and willingness to learn and change. Where someone with a fixed mindset believes their strengths and weaknesses are innate, a person with a growth mindset understands that they are able to improve with effort. This belief gives them the confidence to take educational and professional risks.
I took such a risk when I changed majors in my second year of university. I had been coding software since I was 13, so naturally I entered school with a plan to study computer science. But something was missing. I realized that I was a designer at heart who wanted to learn how to make the software that I was designing on screen come to life.
After years of programming, I could have ignored this new direction and stuck with computer science. Instead, I switched to art history and religious studies, a choice that broadened my own limits and made me look at the world from a different perspective. It was a period of personal development that eventually led to the creation of Lightspeed.
As Lightspeed grew from an idea to a publicly traded company with over two thousand employees, I was forced to grow with it. Year by year, I redefined my role, developing from a programmer into a leader. It was uncomfortable but necessary for the company’s development, and it will be even more crucial as we enter our next period of intensive growth. I believe every leader at Lightspeed needs to embrace a growth mindset and nurture it among employees.
This belief is why we launched the Leadership for All program and opened it up to everyone from team leads to executives. Lightspeeders progress through the program as part of a cohort, and each session dives into an aspect of leadership.
I’m a firm believer that the job of a leader is to develop leaders, who set the tone and define the work culture at a company, so joining a cohort and taking part in discussions was super important to me. Listening and learning never stop, even when you’re the CEO.
“The job of a leader is to develop leaders.”
I wanted to meet leaders and see what’s on their minds, see how they’re tackling challenges, and encourage other leaders to be vulnerable by opening up myself. It can be hard to be authentic in a professional setting, but that’s how we challenge ourselves and grow. Dissolving hierarchy and supporting one another is a great way to build leadership.
I feel fortunate to be able to share the wisdom I’ve gained during my time leading Lightspeed, and I understand that I have plenty to learn from the many wonderful leaders who work here. In my first module about leading distributed teams, I was struck by how engaged my cohort was as we talked about how to give more effective feedback. These are conversations that matter, that will have far-reaching consequences among employees at Lightspeed.
They are also necessary, now that Lightspeed has offices around the world. At a startup, anything feels possible. Employees are exposed to many different teams (sometimes they are the team) and can chart their own career paths. Personal and professional growth happens quickly in such a supportive, fast-paced environment.
Now we have to work harder to maintain that vibrant culture. It’s important for all employees to know that if they put in the effort and challenge themselves, they can create their own journeys. We don’t place limits on how far Lightspeeders develop or how fast they rise within the company. Our responsibility as leaders is to provide driven, entrepreneurial individuals with the cultural environment and tools to succeed—so they can do the best work of their lives.
At Lightspeed, we make it happen, we make it together, and we make it matter. A growth mindset propelled Lightspeed to where we are today. Nurturing that mindset among all of us at Lightspeed will make us an unstoppable force.