Every now and then, situations arise where you are forced to evaluate what type of person you want to be. Just a few hours before writing this article, I encountered one of those moments.
It is 4 am at the Copenhagen airport when a man approaches me, struggling to communicate as he attempts to check-in for his flight. While trying to help him, I soon discover that his wife has mistakenly booked the wrong date for his return ticket. I proceed to explain in Spanish that he probably needs to buy a new ticket, then I leave him to wait for the ticket office to open while I head to my flight. As I ascend the escalator and cross the overpass, our eyes meet as he waits below with a look of confusion, and my heart sinks.
I pass through the first security check, and it suddenly dawns on me that I should have advised him to rebook his ticket directly from his phone so he could still catch the flight. I feel responsible for him, knowing there is little chance he will find another translator at 4 am, but even more so because of what had happened to me just 12 hours earlier.
12 hours earlier
I wake up early to prepare for my afternoon flight to San Francisco, but everything manages to go awry. I discover my suitcase is broken as I am leaving for the airport, I encounter a number of train delays which doubles the time it takes for me to arrive. Then, after a failed sprint to the check-in desk, I am told check-in has closed and that I am not allowed to board the plane. Despite speaking to multiple airline representatives, no one even proposed the possibility of changing my ticket to another time; instead, I end up having to book an expensive new flight.
As I stand at security, thinking about the man who is about to miss his flight, I weigh the options. While I cannot risk missing yet another flight, I keep replaying the hopelessness I experienced the day before, and I know that if I can prevent another human being from feeling that misery, then it is well worth the risk.
I receive special permission from the security agent to go back through the security gate, find the man I helped, and wait until 5 am when the ticket counter opened to explain his situation to the woman behind the counter.
While Running My Company
As I reflect on this experience, it feels much like the decisions I have continuously had to make running my company, a constant battle between risk-taking and sticking to my values.
For example, at the beginning of my time in the Fast Track Malmö accelerator, I was encouraged to find a technical co-founder to make Panion seem more investable. I ended up welcoming a number of different strangers temporarily into my business, testing our compatibility and trying to figure out how I could suddenly trust someone I barely knew with everything I had worked so hard to build. So when one of my candidates started profiling the 'laziness' of developers based on nationality, I knew deep down what had to be done; or, when a prospective investor made a discriminatory joke about one of the new markets we have seen major growth in, despite the large sum on the table, I knew in my gut it was not the right match.
Since entering the startup world, I have been urged on multiple occasions to define our company values. However, in order to define these values, I realise now, I must first define my own.
As a participant in the Transformative Technology Academy, we were asked to identify parts of ourselves that drive behaviours that oppress or deny a part of who we are. My homework assignment this week is to actually write my core values down on paper. While it feels like a daunting task, I can definitely see its value. I know that it will give me a guiding reference that I can continuously consult, to know if I am on the path to who I want to be as a person and as a business woman and to not stray from my purpose no matter what I build, who I am faced with, or what reward they may offer.
We believe that information should be free and will therefore never put up a paywall.
If you like reading our reports about the Scandinavian business scene and would like to donate towards the upkeep of the site, we would be very grateful. Click here to donate.
Business | 🕐 11. Nov. 2020
Tech | 🕐 09. Nov. 2020
Business | 🕐 02. Nov. 2020
Business | 🕐 28. Apr. 2020
Game Development | 🕐 18. Feb. 2020
Tech | 🕐 19. Jun. 2020
Business | 🕐 29. May. 2020
Startups | 🕐 17. Apr. 2020
Startups | 🕐 13. Apr. 2020