Empathetically set high standards for yourself and your team. Success may have a definition, but the way it applies to a business is always changing. By setting high standards for ourselves, our peers, and the work we do, we’ll be able to succeed at smaller and bigger goals and get that sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.
Have you ever noticed how often we equate success with more? Whether that’s more products, more profits, more activities or more accomplishments, we buy into the belief that we have to do more to have more to be more. And that will sum up to success. And then along comes The Great Resignation. Where employees are signaling that the “more” that’s being offered — even more pay, more perks, and more PTO — isn’t summing up to success for them. We visited with leaders who are redefining what success means now. Their answers might surprise you.
As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Hengjie Wang, CEO and co-founder, Kami.
Hengjie Wang is the CEO and co-founder of edtech tool Kami, but a teacher advocate by heart. He spends most mornings speaking to the teachers who use Kami and hearing how he and his team could improve the product, troubleshoot issues, and chat about what’s happening in & out of classrooms.
Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?
I grew up in a household where innovation and creativity is encouraged. We didn’t have much so I also have to learn to be resourceful and build things myself. I have always been fascinated by technology especially software development and have started learning how to program on my own when I was just twelve.
Starting Kami is something that I’m passionate about. And building something that helps people every day and constantly being challenged by running my own business is what I enjoy the most.
We all have myths and misconceptions about success. What are some myths or misconceptions that you used to believe?
The belief that success is linear. Success comes in different forms and that you have to celebrate each and every one of them. At the end of the day, success is when you are fulfilled and have peace of mind.
How has your definition of success changed?
Growing up we are only taught about the superficial side of success, ie. money, influence, social status etc. But the journey towards success and the people you meet on the way, I find, is also as valuable.
The pandemic, in many ways, was a time of collective self-reflection. What changes do you believe we need to make as a society to access success post pandemic?
Education. We need to do more to protect teachers and students. Education has been neglected for decades and this pandemic has proven that there is still a lot of work to do to make sure we have a fully functioning system.
What do you see as the unexpected positives in the pandemic? We would love to hear a few of your stories or examples.
The pandemic called for a lot of changes to our everyday lives, including in the education sector. Some were challenging and some were positive. One positive that comes to mind is that the shift to online learning became a catalyst for edtech integrations, especially in K-12 classrooms. Using edtech means more opportunities for updating curriculums using online materials, spending less time and resources on paper and printing, which ultimately helps the environment, and giving both teachers and students creative and flexible options on how to present classwork and feedback.
We’re all looking for answers about how to be successful now. Could you please share “5 Ways To Redefine Success Now?”
- Stay up to date with current conversations — internally and externally
Regular check-ins and intentionally setting aside time to read the news, have conversations internally and externally helps keep you and your team tuned in to the industry and customers’ needs. Every morning, I slot in time to meet with teachers that use Kami to see how we can improve the platform and better understand their wants and needs in a classroom tool. I also co-host meetings internally to check in on staff and get feedback on ways to improve our work environment.
2. Prioritize adaptability and flexibility
Now more than ever, any given industry can change within a few days and affect how your staff feels, how you approach customers, and more. Tuning into the conversations that are happening outside of your business will help navigate your next steps inside your business. When the pandemic hit, for example, Kami noticed that teachers had to make an overnight shift online and lacked support in doing so. We then made our platform free to access for teachers and their students globally to provide that support that they needed.
3. Proactively ask for feedback from staff and users
In addition to meeting with teachers & users in the mornings, I do regular check-ins with Kami’s internal staff too because I know how impactful and insightful my team’s feedback is.
4. Acknowledge your team & community
Without a team of people to support you, you cannot be successful. That’s why acknowledging and thanking your team in big and small ways matters. Kami was recently named the #1 fastest-growing company in New Zealand by Deloitte, and that couldn’t have happened without our amazing staff. We wanted to acknowledge their amazing work, and, in order to thank our employees, we surprised all 50+ team members with a NZ10,000 dollars bonus.
5. Empathetically set high standards for yourself and your team
Success may have a definition, but the way it applies to a business is always changing. By setting high standards for ourselves, our peers, and the work we do, we’ll be able to succeed at smaller and bigger goals and get that sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.
How would our lives improve if we changed our definition of success?
The reframing of our definition of success would bring a closer sense of community and fulfillment. I am where I am today because of the people I get to work with everyday, as well as staying true to my values. Working with a team who are aligned on your values and moving towards a certain goal together creates a bond that you won’t find anywhere else, which is what we need more of nowadays.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.