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Book synthesis

Two tech executives discuss taking the time to create your own path

The tech industry in particular is addicted to long hours and high (sometimes unreasonable) expectations. Nevertheless, inspired by the authors of It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work, tech leaders Erik Villa and Cédric Savarese insist that it is possible to create a more balanced work environment.

Cédric Savarese on going your own way

Based on an interview with Cédric Savarese, CEO and founder of FormAssembly (May 2019).

The tech start-up world has a culture of working nonstop — putting in all-nighters and working weekends. Thirteen years ago, when Cédric Savarese was trying to start his own company in Bloomington, Indiana, he fell into that trap. “Early on, I had this notion that as a start-up, I needed to work 60, 70, 80 hours a week. … My wife was scratching her head and wondering why I was working so much.” Gradually, as his company FormAssembly grew, he learned to loosen his grip and found he wasn’t the worse for it. Solidly established today, FormAssembly, an online form builder platform, counts more than 60 remote employees.

Along the way, Savarese, who is French and worked in Paris before following his American wife to Indiana, made the choice to scale up slowly and bootstrap his company. Though these decisions were not necessarily what is taken for the norm in his industry, he felt supported by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the authors of It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work and other books, and the similar choices they made at their Chicago-based company Basecamp.

Erik Villa on trusting your managers

Based on an interview with Erik Villa, senior software engineer at Wizeline (May 2019).

Shortly after Erik Villa joined the Guadalajara office of the San Francisco-based company Wizeline in 2016, his office grew from 14 to 150 people. Both new managers and new management models were desperately needed. The company’s CTO asked Villa, initially hired as a software engineer, to be a manager. The management model the product development company adopted was fairly standard, copied from large corporations: “ladders with a lot of positions,” as Villa puts it now.

Excerpt from Business Digest N°297, June 2019

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Françoise Tollet
Published by Françoise Tollet
She spent 12 years in industry, working for Bolloré Technologies, among others. She co-founded Business Digest in 1992 and has been running the company since 1998. And she took the Internet plunge in 1996, even before coming on board as part of the BD team.