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Finding Your Zone of Genius at Front

Front CEO and co-founder Mathilde Collin explains how practicing extreme transparency has helped her build trust at a company level — and why self-awareness is the most important quality she looks for in leaders. She also shares a two-minute productivity exercise called the “Zone of Genius,” which helps you focus on doing things you truly enjoy.

Mathilde Colin: I feel like if I share as much about how I make decisions or how I would think about a specific problem that I have context on, that they may not have context on initially. Then that allows us to make sure we’re on the same page and then give autonomy later on.

Jack Altman: Hey, I’m Jack Altman the CEO and co-founder of Lattice and welcome to our series. Uniquely Led where we sit down with awesome leaders of companies and talk to them about what makes them unique. What about their leadership style defines them. And today we are so excited to be sitting down with Mathilde Colin, the CEO and co-founder of Front. She’s a good friend, someone I look up to and get tons of advice for forensic customer communication platform that helps streamline workflows for over 6,000 companies around the world. Awesome company and Mathilde we are so excited to be doing this with you today. So thanks for taking the time.

Mathilde Colin: Well, thank you. I’m so excited to be here.

Jack Altman: Can you tell us a little bit about your leadership style? What makes you unique as a leader? And sort of defines what it is about you that makes you special?

Mathilde Colin: Tough question. I’m going to try to answer it because I’ve asked this question to other people who I think are best to answer this question. I think the thing that came up consistently is I think I combine two things. One is I deeply care and so if I’m working with you Jack, you’re a human being and for this reason, I will deeply care about you try to understand more about you and I will show you that I care. And then the other side, which goes hand in hand with the first one is I’m a very direct person, very transparent. I have really high standards starting with myself but really high expectations. I feel like I’m a demanding person and I can only do that because of the fact that people know I care, so when I’m sharing that I think something can be better they know that it’s not coming from a place where I want to give them a hard time. I want them to be happy.

It comes from a place of me, deeply caring about them. I know that they want to be better, I want Front to be better and so then I can afford having this very direct conversation. So I think this combination is probably something that’s unique about me. Some other things that I do at a company level, I’m also a very transparent person so maybe less direct with every single person in the company, but making sure that people know what they need to know so that they’re as engaged as possible. They understand the why behind what we’re doing and what they’re doing trust is built.

The last thing I would add is I’m someone that gives a lot of autonomy to people I work with, but the only way for me to give them as much autonomy is for me to micromanage them in the first few weeks of them joining, which can be confusing to them. But I feel like if I share as much about how I make decision or how I would think about a specific problem that I have context on that they might not have context on initially, then that allows us to make sure we’re on the same page and then give autonomy later on.

Jack Altman: So I love how you talk about trust as this foundation for how you can get direct feedback and have people sort of take it in the right way. But I’m curious how you do this at scale. When companies are small, it’s easy to be friends with people and you know everybody, so trust kind of comes naturally. Now that you are hundreds of people and you’re growing quickly, what does it look like to build trust in that sort of context?

Mathilde Colin: So I think there is the trust that you build at a company level. How can everyone trust me? And I think for that, transparency I find is the best tool meaning if I share what’s good and what’s not good. If I share when I’m happy and when I’m sad, then people understand that I’m not trying to hide anything like this is bad news and this is just bad news. I’m not trying to pretend that this is good news. I think at an individual level at the end of the day, what matters is the relationship you have with your manager and so this is so incredibly important for me as a leader to make sure that we hire great managers as we scale and how as a manager, I build this trust with my team is, I show them that I care and also I show them that I’m not lying on anything.

If I feel like I don’t know something, I tell them. If I feel like I screwed up on something that I tell them. But yeah, I think showing the care that I talked about is something that doesn’t have a magic recipe. It’s a lot of small things that will make people believe that they can trust me that they care about them. It comes in the form of being disciplined about having monthly one-on-ones where we don’t talk about anything tactical.

We just talk about in the past month, what have you been most happy about? Least happy about? What can I do to make your professional life better? In every single month I ask you Jack too, I’m pretending you’re working with me. It’s a dream. I asked you to prepare these questions and actually take the time to reflect so that, you’re not replying to me on the spot. And not having to be thought about it, to showing, small things, like you told me that your kid was sick and I’m going to ask you the next day, how your son is doing or… Yeah. Now truth is I deeply care so pretty easier to show the care but these are lots of small thing that when they add up means that people will trust me.

Jack Altman: Even with that though, there’s this dynamic that is unique for companies when you’re really scaling, which is that you’ll often end up managing people who know much more than you, particularly as a CEO. But this is the case for lots of roles where we ended up managing people who are specialists, something that we may know a lot less about. How do you give feedback to people who are just way better at what they’re doing than you are and know much more about and understand it in a deeper way? How do you find both the actual feedback to give and the mentality that you need to give feedback in that kind of context?

Mathilde Colin: It’s a great question and definitely something I’ve been thinking about because as we’ve hired more experienced leaders, I’ve found it harder to give feedback, not just because the content of the feedback was harder for me to find, but also because the delivery was harder and that has bothered me because I care a lot about making sure that I give feedback in the right way. I receive feedback in the right way and the other person does the same. And so when I feel like this is not as smooth, it’s a very slippery slope. And so I’ve been thinking about it. There is something that I’ve learned from a coach I’ve been working with that has helped me tremendously, which is instead of when giving feedback seeming judgemental, meaning you’re the CEO at Front and I tell you, Jack, I think, you didn’t do a good job doing this. You should have done that. And then the other person is like, okay great Mathilde, but you’ve never worked in any other company before. You’re a 30 year old.

I’ve done multiple times, whatever you’re telling me so that’s hard. Instead, if what you do is you say, well, Jack, when you did this, it made me feel that way. Then I think it’s impossible to debate. Then I give you the opportunity to tell me, I’m sorry, you felt that way. It’s interesting that you felt that way. I meant something different, and I’m going to give you my version or I just say I screwed up on this and thanks for giving me the feedback. So this tactic I found to be extremely helpful. So one example could be you’re late to a meeting and instead of… Or you’re lead to multiple meetings and instead of telling you in my next one, I was like, you’re late. It’s not good. You just say, well, when you’re late to a meeting, it makes me feel like my time is not as important as yours. This is way less aggressive than if I tell you, you suck. You’re always late.

Jack Altman: One of the other questions I have around this is sort of, where are you still growing? Or where do you still want to change in the way that you get feedback? Maybe another way to ask this is, what are the moments when you notice that it’s actually still really hard for you to give feedback? Whether it’s the way that someone else responds, whether it’s about giving behavioral feedback, what are some of the trickiest situations for you to sort of do this kind of aspirational version of what you’re talking?

Mathilde Colin: So I’m a very sensitive person. I know that about myself. I think it’s both a strength and a weakness. I’ve been raised in an extremely loving family. And while it’s been amazing, because feel like I’m a loving person in return. I’m maybe not as equipped to people having, tough feedback for me and so that hurts and makes me unhappy. And I don’t want to be unhappy in my job and so something that I’ve been working on is how to receive feedback more than giving feedback. I think giving become better than receiving. The way I work on it is first independently from whether I’m triggered, hurt or whatever I thank the person for the feedback. I do it all the time. If you do it, you might feel like you’re sounding like a robot because you keep saying, thank you but the truth is, I know it’s super hard for anyone to give me feedback.

The fact that I’m the CEO of this company means that people will have a hard time giving me feedback and so thanking them for the feedback is super important. The second thing I do after that is I tell them what I heard and that’s pretty helpful because first I can digest the feedback so instead of… That gives me time to deal with my emotions. And the last thing I do is telling them what I’m thinking about doing and so, because the biggest risk, if I don’t take the feedback well, which I’m tempted to do is they will not give me feedback afterward, that would be a disaster.

So I need to encourage them to keep giving me feedback when I know that’s sometimes not the easiest person to give feedback to. So that’s what I’ve been doing, but still an area of improvement for me and I don’t know, I’m a very competitive person, which same thing has good and bad about it. I like doing great things. I don’t like when I don’t do a good job and so when people highlight, that I don’t do a good job, then I’m hurt, but now I know it’s true. I am very self-aware and I know that there are many things I can improve on.

Jack Altman: Well I was just going to say, I think you’re off the charts on self-awareness and so I suspect that you sort of having those digestions and reflections and telling your team members about that, probably way better equips them to give you feedback. So they know what your trigger points are. They know what makes you comfortable with it. And then probably just with that open communication, I would bet things go a lot better.

Mathilde Colin: Yeah, for sure. And it’s true. I believe that I’m a very self-aware. I believe it’s maybe the number one quality that I’m looking for in all the leaders I hire, because if you don’t have the self-awareness, then there is nothing that you can work on. So I think I am actually looking for two things in yours its self awareness, but also a certain level of confidence because if you’re self aware, but you lack confidence, then it’s really hard because it’s very hard to take feedback. It’s like, you’re just miserable because in a startup that’s growing fast and things change all the time, you’re going to do a lot of mistakes. So if you feel like you’re worth less because of the mistakes you do. Well, if I felt that way, I would be very miserable

Jack Altman: And maybe you also need this paired with desire to grow or something like that. Because you do occasionally encounter somebody who is self-aware and like, yeah, I’ve got these gaps and I’m good with that and I’m here, I don’t really want to work on them, but this is where I’m at.

Mathilde Colin: Yes. I think the willingness to learn is key. And especially with growing companies where you need to reinvent your job all the time, if you’re not ready to learn, I think it’s very hard to be successful.

Jack Altman:  You’ve been definitely in this conversation. I think you’ve exhibited both confidence and vulnerability, which is kind of a hallmark of what we’re talking about. But I want to talk a little bit more about vulnerability specifically, which to me is one of the most important attributes of a leader. It allows people to trust you more. It allows you to create sort of open dialogue. It allows you to receive feedback. It just does so much, but I’m curious how you’ve sort of integrated it into your leadership style and can you talk about maybe how you got started believing that vulnerability is such an important trait for you as a leader?

Mathilde Colin: Yeah. A good question. So it’s definitely a belief I have in my personal and professional life. That the more vulnerable you are, the deeper connections you build and ultimately the happier you can get but the flip side is also the sadder you can get. I don’t think it’s something I learned at Front, meaning I think I’ve been this way before Front where I’ve always been willing to share my weaknesses because I’ve felt like other people would open up and I can give you a million examples of this, but maybe the best example I can share is four and a half years ago, it was a really, really tough time, the hardest time in my life for so many reasons, including the fact that I think I had worked hard without taking care of myself.

My co-founder had been diagnosed with cancer and was going through chemo in SF and I was here for him, but also here for the company and also here for other people and at a point my buddy said, well, you can’t do this anymore. I was so anxious. I could not go to work, which seems insane. So then I got super anxious of not going to work because I was like, what am I going to do to our customers and employees? I’m failing with them so that makes me even more anxious. And for the first few weeks, impossible to talk about it. This is too new for me, but very quickly I started talking about it to other company but also to people around me and what I’ve found is that so many people experience, there’s very, very hard moments in their lives.

So it’s just a belief I have that the vulnerability you show will give you such depth in relationships that it’s worth it. I’ve seen it again and again and I think that’s the reason why I keep being vulnerable. I also believe that counter intuitively it builds confidence for other people. So as a leader, if I tell them this is something I don’t know how to do, I need to learn, then that shows that I have enough confidence in myself that I can tell you, well, this is something I don’t know how to do, or I really screwed up on this. And so found this to be, slightly counter intuitive but then when you rationalize it, it makes sense.

That’s why I’ve kept doing it. And that’s why I’ve encouraged my team to do that. That’s why we’ve implemented some processes for example, all hands, we have a stumble of the week section where if someone has made a mistake, they can talk about it and, and tell the company what they learned from it. The goal is to show that we expect people to do these mistakes and we’d rather have them do a lot of things and do mistakes, than ask for permission because I am not doing enough. And that leads to very vulnerable moments, which I think contributes to this depth in our relationships at work.

Jack Altman: I love that. And I think one of the misconceptions with vulnerability is that people think that vulnerability is just showing weakness. And it’s really more just showing yourself. Sometimes showing something where you say, you know what? I’m going to share a big win with you and I’m really proud of it. And I’m going to brag a little bit right now. That’s vulnerable in its own way too. And so I think there’s this connection people have sometimes between vulnerability and weakness and that’s not what it’s about. It’s closer to authenticity or something.

Mathilde Colin: Yeah. I agree. I’m curious, how do you show this vulnerability at Lattice?

Jack Altman: This might be also a version of laziness or something like that but a lot of times I like to not over-prepare for things. I want to make sure that I’ve got sort of the most important things there in my mind, but I really don’t like to be scripted when I’m talking to the company or talking to teams and I’m comfortable in sort of on my feet situation, largely because I’m always comfortable with the escape hatch of I don’t know or that sounds important we should… Or maybe even, I don’t even know if that’s important, but so we got to figure out if that’s important and then we got to figure out the answer for it.

So I think a lot of vulnerability to me is showing I’m not… Maybe I’m scared. Maybe I’m not about something, but that I’m not going to try to give you some polished version. I’m confident enough in me and my views and what I’m doing, that I’m just going to be an open book about that. And sort of have the trust that, I’ll still be accepted as a leader, even if I say, I don’t know. So I think that’s really important.

How do you think about people sort of taking care of themselves? You’ve talked a lot about… Just in your blogging and just talking back and forth with you. I know you are both somebody who is really quite ambitious and has big goals for yourself and for the company and for the people around you. And you’ve talked about high standards at the same time. You’re extremely caring. You come from a loving family, trust is important to you. You want people to be happy. You want to be doing a job that makes you happy. So how do you, in the context of this big ambition, find space for you and everybody in your team to also make it a joyful and sort of just a positive journey?

Mathilde Colin: In one word, and then I’ll elaborate it, it’s discipline. Meaning I’m convinced that I’m going to do this for a very long time and it’s a very hard job. And so if I’m not a happy human being, then the potential of Front is never going to be reached. I’m convinced of that. And I’m also convinced that my job changes fairly frequently. And so I need to keep asking myself what makes me happy as a human being and do the things. And for me, and I think it’s true for honestly, most, most, most human beings, making sure that they have times for themselves and whatever is important to them and not just the company is critical. And so definitely true for me. I care about spending time with my daughter. I care about spending time with my husband. I care about going back to France sometimes and spending time with my family.

I care about sports, my friends, I care about meditating every day. I care about giving back and that takes time. I care about sleeping. I sleep more than nine hours every night. It’s a lot. And the list could go on and on. And then on the other side, I’m super competitive and I want Front to be the most successful software company built in the past 20 years. So the thing that I do in order to combine both is I’m very disciplined with my time. And not just with my team. So what I mean by that is I know exactly….

Jack Altman:  No Netflix.

Mathilde Colin: That for sure, except like the first time I started watching a series was during the pandemic, just because really I had nothing else to even I was tired and pregnant, but yes. So no, I’m not doing that but again, that’s not judgmental.

That doesn’t work for me. I’m currently reading a book and the book I’m reading is How to Use Your Phone Less. That’s how fun I am, when I’m reading books. But anyways, being disciplined with my time means that every, every, every day I know when I’m going to end work exactly at… And I know that’s what I’m going to stick to and I have no excuse for not sticking to it. Now when I’m off of work, I still have my phone and so in order to prevent me from working, I don’t have any work app on my phone and I’ve not had them for the past five years. I will never have them back. If something is very critical, like Fron is down for an hour or whatever, which has not happened yet, but can happen then people will call me.

Jack Altman: You don’t have Email on your phone?

Mathilde Colin: No. I don’t have Email. I don’t have Slack.

Jack Altman:  No Email? No Slack?

Mathilde Colin: Nope. No Dropbox.

Jack Altman: No Front?

Mathilde Colin: No Front.

Jack Altman: Whoa.

Mathilde Colin: No, I’m working when I’m on my computer and when I’m not on my computer, I’m not working and I think that gives me the head space. And that discipline I think is what allows me to be working when I’m working, not working when I’m not working and then never be frustrated about the fact that this is a demanding job and therefore I might not have time for other things. And I take the time for other things. I also believe that if I told you, you only have whatever 40 hours to work this week, then you would focus on the most important things. And the truth is, I know we’re all inefficient with some of the time we spend. And so this discipline is also a way for me to focus on the most important things, to frame the primes in the right way, not to get too much in the weeds and I think there are just a structure that I think brings the best of me as a leader. And also of me just as a human being that wants to be happy.

Jack Altman: So do you encourage the rest of your team to do the same thing? Or is this a you specific thing? Or now this is like a Front standard? Is that when people are off the clock, they’re off.

Mathilde Colin: I encouraged the team to do exactly the same thing. So, I mean, I can tell you a few things we’ve done. The first one is we’ve done screen time challenge, where if people spend less than X hours on their phone every day, they would get additional health benefits because I’m convinced that spending too much time on your phone is not good for your mental health. Another example is a few weeks ago, I had one person, my team who told me, I’m just not feeling great. I have so much work. And I told them like, you have to take three weeks of PTO right now. Right now it equals the summer, not now. And so I forced them to take PTO. I forced them to not be on Front and the good thing is because Front is an inbox that’s shared with your team, you know if the person is connected or not like Slack.

Yeah? And so if I see someone and that happened to me last week, I saw someone that wasn’t PG on my team that was connected, and I texted them and I was like, stop being on Front and please take the time for yourself. And then one thing that’s that we are experimenting with right now that we’ve been experimenting with for four months now is something that we call flexible Fridays. So on Fridays, not only you don’t have any meetings, but also you’re not expected to be online. And of course we have shifts so that, our customer don’t separate from it, in the same way that during weekends, we also have an an on-call rotation so but it’s treated as a weekend in that sense with an escalation process and the reason for it is because I want to give people the flexibility of working the way they want.

And to me what I described worked for me might not work for other people and that’s okay, every person is different. But at least the more flexibility you can give them, then the more likely they are to design a week and habits that work for them. And so this is another way to say yes, I hear about you being very self-reflective and think about what makes you happy as a human being, take the time and then design your week or make your year or whatever, based on that. And otherwise, if you just keep doing the same thing that you’ve been doing forever, or every other person seems to be doing, then you are [inaudible 00:25:45] happier version of yourself.

Jack Altman: Yeah. I think this is touching on something that I completely agree with that just people have so much juice to squeeze both in their workday and then outside of their workday, of things that are either not bringing them success or not bringing them joy. Whether that’s bingeing Netflix 6:00 PM on a Tuesday when they could be exercising or something else that would actually bring them more long-term joy or during the day, I think it’s very easy for so many people to kind of not be productive during the day and then it leads to what you’re talking about, where you can sleep nine hours, run a company, spend time with… How old is your daughter? One?

Mathilde Colin: Yeah. One and two days,

Jack Altman: One and two days. So it’s possible, but it requires a certain, it requires taking an extremely critical eye to the way you spend your own time, which I think is a great thing to do because time’s all we got so you may as well be quite critical of how you’re using it.

Mathilde Colin: And another thing that it made me think about that I am convinced of is that people are not used to not doing anything or be bored, yet I believe that in your professional and personal life, not being busy all the time contributes to a higher effectiveness and happiness. So for example, in your professional life, if you take some time to step back, not have access to your computer, go on a walk, don’t check your phone. Think about the things you’re not thinking about.

Think about your top goals and are you doing everything to make it happen? What are the risks you’re not seeing? The opportunities you’re not seeing? This is time we don’t take any more because it’s very easy to get busy. You have always something new to look at. In your personal life I feel like being in the moment is also extremely hard it’s a muscle you need to train. It is not a natural thing for the same reason. Yet I think if you’re doing that within your personal and professional life, and you accept that sometimes some level of boredom leads to greater happiness and effectiveness, then I think it’s a beautiful thing.

Jack Altman: You talked about zone of genius and obviously productivity is near and dear to your heart. Can you just tell us a tiny bit about what the sort of zone of genius concept is?

Mathilde Colin: Yeah. I wrote a [inaudible 00:28:15] about this. The concept is… So what’s being in your zone of genius means is that you’re working on something that you’re good at, but also you get energy from it, which is different from your zone of excellence, where you’re good at it, but you don’t necessarily get a ton of energy out of it. And what I think is everyone should aim at being maybe 80% of their time in their zone of genius. I think it’s pretty rarely stick to say 100% of the time, but I think way too often, 90 plus percent of the time, people accept that they’re spending a way lower percentage than 80% in their zone of genius because they think, well, it’s just part of the job I need to do it. And there is an exercise that I’ve done myself [inaudible 00:28:59] and then that I’ve done with my team that has been so helpful is for two weeks, you make sure that everything you’re doing is in your calendar.

So even if you are doing Emails or working on old hands, whatever it is, that’s asynchronous in that meeting, put it in your calendar and make sure that the calendars are somewhat reflective of what your day to day is. And not preparing for this big fundraising event or whatever. At the end of the two weeks, you print this two weeks and you highlight in green, everything that gives you energy and in red, everything that was either neutral or drained the energy. And then you try to categorize things, the green things, you don’t have to do anything about them, but with the red things, you do one of two things.

Either you delegate them and you find a way or you change how you do it and you try to make it amazing for you. So an example of this could be, you’re doing all hands Jack and these are scripted. They’re very boring to you and so you’re deciding that you’re going to change how you do all hands and from now on, you’re not going to prepare them that much and they’re going to feel genuine and all of a sudden that’s something that gives you energy instead of draining energy. And I think most people believe that there is no one to delegate the things that you’re not still happy doing, because coming from your perspective, that’s slightly boring so why would someone enjoy doing it? The truth is humanity is made of such different people and your team is as well, and there is always someone that would enjoy doing the things that you don’t enjoy doing. So this is a two minutes zone of genius exercise that I just shared.

Jack Altman: That last insight in particular, that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure is very important. Particularly if you’re somebody who really cares about not handing off work that is boring. It’s nice to remember that to other people, it might be very engaging and something that they love. So I love that point. Speaking of sort of the diversity of people, you’ve built a diverse team, and that’s something that a lot of us have aspired to do. I think your leadership team is half men, half women. I’m curious, how do you sort of go about doing that? And what’s the level of intentionality versus sort of things unfolding just sort of naturally?

Mathilde Colin: It’s a good question. Our exec team actually is 80% of women, 20% men. And I think that, I’ve definitely learned so much about diversity. It’s not because that is true, that we’re doing amazing for many reasons. One because gender representation isn’t that the only representation also, because representation is not the only thing we want to work on. Inclusion, equity it’s a rise also so, first I would never say that we’re doing great on this. I think there are some parts of this initiative that we’re doing great on and other parts where we could do a much better job at. So what it means is in my opinion, as leaders, we need to be very deliberate on what we want to work on and not work on. It is impossible to say that, you’re going to work on everything like race, gender, representation, equity, inclusion, different levels, different geographies.

If you do that, then you’re going to do a poor job. And so instead, what we are deliberate about is these are the metrics we want to move. These are the areas we want to make progress on and then committing to making progress on these. I think to answer your question. So yes, we’re very deliberate. I don’t think it’s possible to make progress in it without being deliberate. However, I would say that I have a very unfair advantage on gender, which is I’m a woman and I think that leads to other women being willing to work for a woman CEO and that leads to, I think, creating an inclusive environment.

Jack Altman: Yeah. That makes total sense. And that’s great. Okay. I have two more. I have two more last questions for you that are both extremely topical. The first one is about remote work, future of hybrid. What can you share about how you’re thinking? This is a conversation that every leadership team has been grappling with over the last year. You think about the work a lot. How are you thinking about this?

Mathilde Colin: Yes. Very hard to answer in a few minutes, but I can tell you something that are top of mind for us. The first one, which is not very original is most of the company is going to be hybrid. It comes from the fact that the culture we’ve built was I think a culture that led to high engagement and retention and was built on relationships that were nurtured by being in person. Now, there are so many benefits of also not being in person, which we want to embrace. So that’s one thing. The second thing that maybe is not as [inaudible 00:34:23] is saying at the end of the day, as much as we want to give visibility on what the future of work is going to look like, we also need to embrace the now of work, the reality and especially with Delta, that tree change my perspective, the future, meaning at the beginning of the pandemic, we didn’t know what the future would look like so let’s not make any plans, and then the vaccine is there is a line of sight.

We think things are going to go back to normal. And then here we are like, this is not happening. And the sad truth is we have no idea how it all gets going to take any, it may take years and years. And so the problem is what you believe is the right way of working for all your company, whatever time frame you’re using to define the future of work is changing every six months. And so I talk to founders who every six months, I have these conversations again, and we’re changing our future of work again. And so I think at a point, you need to share the guiding principles and for us, I think the flexibility piece where the flexible Fridays I shared is super important. I think the hybrid and some moment that’s intentional about being in person matters a lot, but at the end of the day, the now of work is also something that we need to embrace, this is a new thing literally I have a meeting on this next week, because my perspective has changed.

Jack Altman:  The now of work is great. I’m going to use that. And I resonate all those same sorts of changes and the entrance of Delta had the same experience for us. So my last question, most of us give out hats and mugs and shirts as company swag, and then you’re over there giving everybody NFTs. So one, why did you do that? And two, why are you trying to make us all look bad?

Mathilde Colin: I’m sorry, I’m making you look bad. So, yes, it’s true. We had a really good first half therefore I was thinking about a way to celebrate, knowing that we can then gather and celebrate altogether. I’m a huge fan of Legos. So first I thought, well, we’re going to have all these Legos and build… Impossible because we’ll never be in office altogether anytime soon. So then I said, what is the theme of 2021 so far? And I feel like, the digital world is starting to replace the physical world and I want to embrace this. So, yes we offered a piece of a unique piece of art to every Frontier, the design team designed all of them. They were wonderful. You can trade them if you prefer some over others. The truth is maybe the most interesting thing about this is just the fact that this is an example of something that’s true about my leadership style, which is I’m at the end of the day naive person that has not worked in any other company before.

And so it means that, I don’t have all these preconceived ideas about how work should be or how rewards should be in. I try to think creatively about these things, and that doesn’t mean we need to reinvent everything, but I think celebration is clearly something where you can think out of the box and we trade to think out of the box and I think people were super happy. And I’ll give you one to make you feel less bad.

Jack Altman: Yeah. I’d love that. That’s great. Mathilde, this was so great. Thank you for doing this. I absolutely love this conversation, really appreciate you making the time for it.

Mathilde Colin: Thank you. I loved it as well.

Listen to the Podcast
Uniquely Led with Jack Altman

Mathilde Collin

Mathilde Collin is the co-founder and CEO of Front, a customer communication hub that allows companies to offer high-touch experiences at scale. Front serves more than 6,500 businesses and has raised $138 million in venture funding from Sequoia Capital, Threshold Ventures and Uncork Capital, as well as executives from Atlassian, Okta, Qualtrics, and Zoom. Mathilde is known for her values-driven leadership style and for championing top-down radical transparency. Before founding Front and moving to San Francisco for Y Combinator in 2014, she received a Master’s degree at HEC School of Management. Mathilde mentors aspiring entrepreneurs through All Raise’s Female Founders Office Hours and the Pioneer Fund. She has been recognized in Forbes Next Billion Dollar Startups, Inc. Female Founders and Forbes 30 Under 30: Enterprise Tech.