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7 Questions with Ava Naeini
7 Questions with Ava Naeini
Name: Ava Naeini
Current title: Founder
Current organization: Pulse Operations
I'm the founder of Pulse Operations and umbrella of innovative products for helping humanity and operating software.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?
The learning curve when it comes to establishing your first startup can be very challenging and I believe that's a monster as a show stopper for some people and holistic platforms like gust are very helpful. As a founder you need a platform and you need to learn a lot of processes in legal and patent rights, taxes and business structures, shares, hiring contractors vs employees, fundraising, managing a team, communication platforms to make the right choices and create the right synergy that suits the dynamic of your business. You need to be able to make decisions and learn at the same time. In short it takes a lot out of a first time founder to develop the strategy to validate people and tools to find the right fit and overcome all the challenges to be able to get to the starting point successfully and with the right amount of certainty and confidence to continue a successful journey. Being open is communication is always the key in this process and sharing how we feel, what we need and where we need help to find allies.
2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?
My career started as a software engineer in infrastructure, machine learning and search, which taught me a lot but I never felt fully fulfilled despite all the comfort. I always felt I could thrive for something more outside the box I was put into or I put myself into. I left the role after a couple of years to pursue my passion in product consulting and helping people and moved more towards customer roles. In my last role as a consultant in distributed systems I learned and grew tremendously when it comes to expectation setting and managing people with technical challenges. I was also able to see through things and discover the market gaps and difficulties people have and that led to the idea we are working on, Pulse which is a machine learning engine for monitoring and managing distributed system monitoring and much more(god willing)
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Managing priorities looks unique every day and is full of unknown when you are running a business. Some days you have good surprises, some days there is fire everywhere. You have to be flexible and open to change. From the time I open my eyes I take a deep breath into a short prayer space and express my needs to the divine(Allah) to channel hope then I focus my intentions on myself, my people and our priorities. Having an optimistic approach and seeing challenges as part of the day is hard at first but it becomes normal as we grow into our path and it's a very important piece of the puzzle actually, getting used to constant problem solving and flow mode in a peaceful manner. I take a few minutes in the morning contemplating, listening to my favorite music, going on a short walk, sipping Starbucks coffee or my favorite hot tea to detach then taking a few minutes to come back to myself to arrange my priorities of what I need to do for myself or my team. I keep the big picture alive and bold to maintain focus and keep myself flexible also to be able to accommodate for change. Change is normal when you are a business owner and you can look at it as default. The day unfolds by me checking in with my team to make sure they have what they need and I also communicate important updates. I focus on my tasks afterward and if I can get the self care piece in there as well it will be a bonus the day usually ends with conversations with the team to make sure we are sync. In my after hour times I focus on high level strategy given everything that’s going on and left over communication bits with my team.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Honest communication is very important and sticking to our core values as leaders is the key to manifest the change we are desiring for the greater good in the world to fulfill ourselves first and our purpose as leaders. You can use core values to test your team members and if they are not willing to abide by them then they are not your tribe. There are a lot of people in this world who show up and express support with ulterior motives and lack of positive intentions and by not being afraid of them and pushing them to the side and focusing on moving forward we find new people and can bring the change we desire to the world that represents those values! As we are going through challenges we grow and our team should be able to grow with us. The more we learn to trust God and surrender our intentions with faith in our heart the more we would be able to overcome those fears, detect those negative people, and eliminate them.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Since I’m a spiritual person and work in the self help space there are many books that touched me as a person and grew me into who I am. My faith and books of God are all golden scripts that I read when I get stuck with people or problems to ease my heart. The Quran has helped me with clarity and new ways of thinking when it comes to people and seeing things through a new lens. In modern days I enjoyed "Multiplier" and "Drive". One is about the importance of delegation and the other one is for motivation and emotional health at work. “How to Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with People”, “The Elegant Warrior: How To Win Life's Trials Without Losing Yourself”, are good reads. I listened to a lot of books summaries on Blinkist app that I'm sure have helped me develop as a founder.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?
By being positive, believing in yourself, trusting that you are learning and mistakes are ok, practicing letting go and knowing success takes hard work, patience and time. Hope and faith are key elements in growing your capacity as challenges rise believing that you are protected in God's light and he will not bear you with things you won't be able to handle so if you can get through today with hope tomorrow will be a new day that you can continue to learn and work towards success. Developing patience and tolerating people and looking at life as an experiment in growth for yourself. Self care and allowing yourself to recharge and take a break is also super important as a leader to be able to bounce back and rebalance your energy at challenging times. Connect and disconnect. Maintaining balance and trusting the right people knowing we have support.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?
Boundary setting with people in business is the hardest and most important part of a business. This is something you learn as you go through experiences with people. When someone or something doesn’t sit right within me I shouldn’t be afraid to say no and separate myself. Not being afraid of going alone and taking risks by myself. Trusting my decisions and knowing the core values I have are very crucial parts of my identity not as a business owner but as a conscious leader.