Team stories, Allie
In my life, I have always had two passions: psychology and writing. I studied both, yet as my life developed, I found myself moving from London’s busy, creative world of advertising and copywriting into Prague’s world of technology.
The move from agency-side to client-side was an adjustment itself, but imagine when I turned up on my first day at Avast and my smart, technically-brained colleagues informed me that I had to go and “fix the copy in the strings”. (The only strings I’d heard of until then were musical ones.) It was a steep learning curve for both sides. 😀 I remember sitting across from a product manager on that first day, completely out of my depth, being asked to write release notes about developments I didn’t understand. Of course, I nodded as though I did. Then, I took the task away and Google-researched absolutely everything I could before coming back to him with questions. To my surprise, he didn’t have answers to a good number of them. And furthermore, it hadn’t even occurred to him to ask them.
Surprising life lesson number 1: (and this has stayed with me when working with every single tech client since) We're all different. Go ahead and ask the most basic questions, because our life experiences, backgrounds, and skills are so vastly different, we can't ever assume others know what we know. The next thing I learned was that we're better together. Those in technology often create incredible things, but don’t find it natural to articulate what they’re creating and why. They have world-building brains that work differently to, say, a therapist, focused on reading somatic markers, body language, facial expressions, and more. However, my whole education had been focused on that and understanding people, their perspective, needs, and experiences – and knowing how to tune into them. I was trained, you see, to look for all that. So in a way, my empathy, and psychology experience was the perfect preparation for product design, development, and communication. Later, I learned that the CEO and marketing director at the time had wanted me to be fresh. My ignorance was actually my advantage, since, as it turned out, the company was growing, and I was the budding mainstream audience; Plain Jane, not a technical expert, just someone who would soon need to be able to use and understand the value of online security. Very smart of them.
Now, if you ask a writer, they’ll most likely tell you that they write best for services and products that they use and understand. Generally, this is true. It is also why in advertising they have a department dedicated to strategic planning, and why good creatives just like great product managers, take knowing the audience and the product to another level. This allows for the creation of ideas, features, and lines that resonate with the audience: because being good, means being insightful, relevant, useful, and helpful. It means addressing a need or problem.
For me, it was immediately exciting to consider working for Upheal – a startup for which I knew I was the intended audience. A place where I could turn to my team and say, “But from the perspective of a coach or therapist, this is more important…” Now what’s more rewarding than that? And, as serendipitously as life would have it, I had also stumbled across one of Upheal’s founders just after a major life transformation and four years of invaluable, first-hand therapy experience. I was intimately familiar with both coaching and therapy and the life-changing nature of both. As it turned out, he was going through something similar, too.
Surprising life lesson number 2: What I’ve learned, in therapy, startups, and life, is the importance of small, tiny changes. Iterations. Small releases. Intention. Life is more manageable and rewarding when we don’t think in extremes, good vs. bad, black or white boxes, but when we focus on seeking the gray space, connecting to our emotions authentically, and taking one small step at a time. Whether it’s in perspective, habits, behavior, or simply (though it’s hardly simple when we first attempt it), changing our thoughts – gentleness and persistence is key. A lot for me comes down to the serenity prayer:
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
At Upheal, I get to activate different parts of myself than when I am coaching or healing, and both serve me equally well. I love the world of mental health, whatever way I am contributing to it. I can help shape the product, the features, the thinking, and represent the healing professional in a welcoming team that is respectful of each others’ diverse skillset. And when we understand the audience and JTBD well, we can contribute in a more meaningful, productive, and heartfelt way.
So, dear reader, this is how my journey at Upheal started. Not for a second would I have predicted that I’d be working in technology, and for startups, to boot. But when we allow space for all the different parts of us to be seen, great things can happen. Be patient with yourself and see the value in all aspects of your journey – you may find that life opens up in unexpected ways. Today, I use Upheal with around half of my humble client base, and I am able to do both of the things I love. Of course, there are things that I had to get comfortable with before introducing my clients to Upheal, and I can walk you through those in the next article, “Getting used to including Upheal in your practice” if you like. Thank you for reading. <3