Saying no to stress at Oyst
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Startup stress is real, confirms Quentin Vigneau, the co-founder of a rapidly growing Ecommerce startup called Oyst. Here, Quentin shares what he has learned about stress management from running a successful startup for the past 2 years.
co-founder, Oyst, (January 2018).Quentin Vigneau holds a master’s degree in Management of New Technologies from HEC Paris.
Quentin Vigneau co-founded Oyst in January 2016 with a mission to revolutionize E-commerce. To make online payments faster and more secure, his startup created a button that enables users to buy products in 1-click directly from any website. From its initial team of 3, Oyst has grown over the past 2 years into a company of 70+ full-time employees, with a user base that is multiplying at a rate of 10 every 4 months.
Of Oyst’s early days, Quentin says, “Stress was everywhere. I mean, startups are based on kind of an insane premise: the idea that 2 or 3 people in a garage can do a better job than a huge company with an army of talent and resources. It presupposes that those 2 or 3 individuals will do an incredible amount of work. In those conditions, you have to know how to set limits and manage stress or you’ll burnout.” Describing the past 2 years as a “school of stress,” Quentin confirms the importance of stress management to his own individual long-term productivity and, especially, to the productivity and performance of his teams.
Getting used to the insane stress of a startup
Quentin’s most palpably stressful moment in the 2 years since founding Oyst is not what you might expect. He says it was welcoming Oyst’s first employee to their first office, a small apartment in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris: “The paint wasn’t done, but I had put together the tables the day before, and the stage was set. When that guy walked in, it was the real start of a team. Waiting for him to arrive, I had the same stress that you feel onstage before the curtain opens,” says Quentin, a former concert violinist. After that moment, Quentin had to get used to the constant stress in order to survive: “We were making decisions on a daily basis that could kill the company, and the weight of that responsibility increased as the number of people who would lose their jobs if we fail increased. It might seem funny to say that moment of welcoming our first intern was my most stressful, but once we got going, I didn’t have the time to stress. In this kind of fast-paced environment, with all the pressure to decide and move forward, stressing out — which is paralyzing — would mean screwing it all up and killing the company. As a leader, I am not allowed to stress. When pressures mount, it’s my job and the job of all our managers to filter that noise out for our teams.”
How stress management makes or breaks a leader
Quentin explains that the primary sources of stress at Oyst are common ones: high targets and too much work (“There’s always too much work!”). “When our teams miss their targets, I have seen managers react in one of two ways. One, they accept responsibility for the problem and go back to fix it by clarifying the mission and breaking it down so everyone on the team knows what to do without revealing the pressure they’re under. Or two, they try to shift the responsibility onto the team and go back to them with some form of a stick in their hands. At Oyst, we don’t consider the second kind of response to be in line with what it means to be a manager; such individuals can still be valuable experts for us, but they shouldn’t be leading our teams.”
Excerpt from Business Digest N°283, February 2018
To go further
Read the full 3-part feature
Point of View
Interview with Quentin Vigneau, co-founder at Oyst
Saying no to stress at Oyst
It's up to you!
How to build collective resilence
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