WNDYR Employee #1: Daphne Costa Lopes

Daphne Costa Lopes shares her journey as WNDYR's first employee and the lessons she has learnt along the way, about what it takes to truly build something.

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So here I am, the first employee in WNDYR.

This quarter marks 3 years to the day that I walked into our first (shared) office space in Herbert Street, feeling excited, nervous and totally out of my comfort zone.

Let me put it in perspective: Previous to this date I had a good job in a prestigious company where I was one of the thousands of employees there. My job role, KPIs, and career path were clearly delineated, and I had a breath of resources to achieve goals that were set for me.

But for the sake of this story, I would like to re-wind to six weeks before the day I walked into our (very little) office.

During my 2014 Christmas holidays, I happened to meet a passionate entrepreneur that re-ignited a desire that I had for a long time: building a company.  Neither of us knew it at that time, but our conversation was the first of a series of events that led me to where I am today (thank you).

Coming back to the office, in January 2015, I had over one thousand e-mails in my inbox. For the first time, I recognised that I operated under a destructive e-mail culture that created unnecessary anxiety and stress. That’s when I started researching ways to better manage e-mail and improve team communication.

In February 2015 I took myself out for a coffee – an act that would later become a ceremony to every single one of my growth moments – with a notebook and a pen, and I wrote down:

“build a company that solves the e-mail problem”

Working backward from that goal and doing a lot of research, I realised that what I was experiencing was a mix of technology and cultural issues. From this moment on, I knew I needed to get my hands dirty, working with technology, to enable digital transformation and change programmes.

My research led me to an article called: “How I Gave up Email and Reclaimed 3 Hours a Day“, written by Claire Burge.

I was in awe. I had just found someone that actually understood the depth of the problem, and had already started to design the backbones of the programme that would lead teams to work in more collaborative ways.

I decided to reach out via LinkedIn and pitch myself as someone that could build and drive the sales and marketing engine necessary to bring our vision to life. Not that a role existed and Claire was not hiring: I just thought that such synergy wasn’t a coincidence, but rather a sign.

Claire responded within a couple of hours and agreed to meet. Four weeks later, on a Tuesday, I cycled to Herbert Street for my first day at “Get Organised”, a company that had two amazing founders, and all but one employee, me.

Fast forward 3 years and many buckets of sweat, blood and tears: here I am, sharing a virtual office space, with a team of 30 amazing individuals spread over four continents. We help over 350 clients per month to create collaborative work experiences, that allow teams to do their best work. Said differently: I am living the very first mission I set for myself.

So here I sit with my cup of coffee and my notebook reflecting on this journey, celebrating the launch of our new brand.

4 lessons come to mind which I will carry with me always:

  • Smart-Hard work pays off: Passion and drive placed us together and ignited our business, but it was the hard work we did down in the trenches, especially when things were tough, that built the company we have today.
  • Take time to appreciate the results: Getting here today, and seeing our clients embracing collaboration, transparency, and human acceleration gives me the energy to keep climbing higher, even when things are hard.
  • Our clients are our reason to be: Without our clients and partners, that trust our (sometimes) unorthodox ways of doing things, we wouldn’t exist. They are the reason we have a business and will always be at the center of what we do.
  • It takes a village: We have grown laterally and vertically, and we know that each and every person in our team, from sales, product, services or admin plays a huge part in our success.

I can barely believe February has ended once again… they say time flies when you are having fun, but I think time flies when you dedicate yourself to achieving goals that are bigger than yourself.

Oh! And this time I am also writing down my next mission: transform the experience customers have with their technology products from tactical to strategic.

I know I will need to look at those four lessons again soon.

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