Oct 26, 2018 Gerda Verbickaite
It all began when Justin started investing his personal time in creating a product, which would stop teams from spending up to 60% of their time “doing work about doing work.”
Here are four main points Justin has learned along the way.
It is really important for everyone in the company to know why they come to the office each day and why they should try their best to keep developing and improving Asana. As a company, you have to have clarity of purpose, a mission, which has to be matched by all of the company’s decisions made on any level. When you walk into Asana’s HQ, you will see their mission statement in big letters right on the first wall you see, to remind everyone of the goal towards which they all work together.
With a clear mission visibly present, as Justin explains, they are able to push all their efforts towards helping their customers be more productive in tasks that matter. As one of their clients from AIDS alliance said: “Humanity will find a cure for AIDS faster because of Asana.”
When we want something, we often can only explain it in terms of things that we are already familiar with, but the best solutions usually come from those who listen to what’s laying underneath, what’s not being said. Justin explains: “building a successful product requires the combination of being able to really listen carefully to customers and at the same time […] fantasize from the scratch what something would look like.” When Asana’s customers started asking for a Gantt chart, instead of building the feature-in-demand, as many others would have, Asana asked their customers: “Why do you want this function?” By incorporating the first principle thinking into Asana’s decision-making, they were able to come up with a brand new interface and an organic version of a Gantt chart, which left customers saying that this is better than what they originally wanted.
When you are an entrepreneur, in some ways, things will not go according to plan on a daily basis. It is easy to get disheartened when something you have worked on intensely fails or doesn’t play out as expected, but Justin advises to remember that: “Problems happen, plans fail. […] The key is to not freak out and just calmly deal with each problem every day, one at a time until you achieve your desired outcome.” Find your way to stay focused on the bigger picture, which will help you in staying sane and remaining stable through ups and downs. Upon being asked “How is Asana doing?”, Justin recalls how it usually felt that so much had gone wrong, but when looking at the bigger picture, he would realize that they are one of the fastest growing SaaS companies, helping all these customers around the world.
Every entrepreneur shares the same experience – that almost any undertaking involves a steady stream of unexpected difficulties and mistakes. The key is to know that failure is not the end of your journey, it’s just a detour.
It can be very easy to forget to take care of your body and mind when deadlines seem to pile up. Justin has developed a routine to improve his productivity, health and happiness. During our chat, he was kind enough to share his personal routine and how it benefits him.
Justin starts his day with a journal, writing things that he is grateful for and big tasks he wants to achieve, followed by one hour of meditation. Meditation has been proven to have beneficial effects, such as improving clarity and, as Justin put it: “Meditation enables you to step back and make choices from a place of love and compassion.”
At work, instead of jumping to completing tasks, he first prioritizes and plans his activities, creating a structure for the day and calmly going through one task after another, taking breaks when appropriate and limiting the time spent on checking email and Asana. During our conversation, Justin also quite passionately talked about the importance of exercise and sleep, which should be seen as an investment in your productivity and mental cognition.
As our time was coming to a close, Justin shared his excitement about coming to visit Helsinki for the first time. He’s looking forward to experiencing the happiest country in the world, meet his customers from around the globe and get inspired to make Asana better.
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