At Next Jump, we use a simple formula to implement our WHY: Better Me + Better You = Better Us. In other words, we begin by investing in ourselves to then help others grow, which leads to a stronger world for all of us. FastTrack is NextJump’s premier mentorship program with a goal to build better leaders - those who can captain the company’s business and culture in the stormiest of seas. Through FastTrack, nominated employees are connected with industry leaders (hand picked from Charlie’s rolodex of contacts) that have weathered and survived many a stormy sea. These employees have the privilege of spending quality time with mentors to understand their journey, as well as struggles, and receive invaluable coaching and lessons they can apply to their career - truly a mentorship opportunity like no other.
I had the honor of being inducted into the first batch of FastTrack along with John Nellen (Director of Network Operations Center) in November 2011.
As part of the program, I was mentored by Next Jump’s core leadership team - Charlie Kim (Founder and CEO), Meghan Messenger (Head of Merchant Relations), Greg Kunkel (Head of Client Relations), Tom Fuller (Head of Engineering), and Albert Balcells (Head of Site & User Experience). Furthermore, Gabe Zichermann (Founder and CEO, Dopamine), on Charlie’s request, became my external mentor. Gabe is the thought leader in Gamification theory, one of my interest areas, and also mentors several startup CEOs.
Over a period of 6 months, I had structured sessions with each of my mentors focussing on key growth areas. It was a rare growth opportunity as I received different perspectives on leadership from each: Greg infuses his experience at being a winning water-polo coach to create similar high performance teams at Next Jump that display sportsmanship and desire to keep improving, a principle that I now apply for building my teams. Tom inspires me with his ability to wear multiple hats at Next JUmp, from driving the business to managing geographically distributed teams across engineering and marketing business units. During our sessions, Tom shared frameworks that he utilizes to stay organized and maximize his impact to all the teams reporting to him. Fun fact - all of these were taught to me on the back of an envelope! Known from my hyper-innovation at work, Gabe taught me a key lesson that I will always remember: “Does the complexity justify the value?” - simple yet so true, I was truly surprised how simplicity is the key even in a complex product design. As a respected mentor to many CEOs and entrepreneurs, Charlie’s guidance on how I can become a better mentee was invaluable, and the main reason I was able to tap the FastTrack opportunity to its full potential. During this time, I grew professionally by leaps and bounds, but more importantly to me, built long lasting relationships with each of them that will guide me to be a better leader in the future.
Having learned so much from a Better Me experience, the cup overfloweth - I am now sharing my learnings with a new batch of FastTrack mentees as well as coaching Kenny, a fast rising engineer of the company, as part of the Padawan mentorship program for young leaders.
Next Jump’s Fast Track program has truly lived up to its name and put me on the fastest and most fulfilling path in my career - of learning and teaching.