Lessons learned captaining the Next Jump 2018 Holiday Party

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As part of Next Jump tradition, every year we gather all our offices together for our annual Holiday Party and Dance Competition. The Holiday Party is not only a time for all Next Jumpers to come together, but also an opportunity for Next Jumpers to practice leadership and decision-making. For this year’s Holiday Party, Next Jumpers Nina and Vikram captained the event – I caught up with them to learn more on how co-leading the Holiday Party helped shape them as leaders.

Stephanie: At Next Jump, we use Culture as a practice ground. How did you use the Holiday Party as a practice ground for leadership?

Vikram: I was practicing a few things. Firstly, being OK with being judged and putting myself out there more often. Another one was speaking up and getting better at public speaking, and…getting better at making critical decisions at crunch time.

Nina: Part of my practices is that as someone who feels more comfortable jumping right in, letting Vikram speak first. Compared to when we captained the Summer Outing, we were being very deliberate about playing to our backhands because that is what culture is – being able to develop and grow. Other things that I’ve been deliberately working on include not being too much into the execution of the details. I think that as a person, I never want any part of what I’m owning or what I’m working on to fail. So it was difficult for me, but it’s amazing and worthwhile to see the trust in your team pay off.

Stephanie: What are some of the challenges you faced when planning and working with the team on the holiday party?

Vikram: There were a few challenges initially – just to get the team up to speed with all the different tasks and to plan the flow of events. I hadn’t captained the Holiday Party or even been a hand of it before. It was something new for me. But once we got into it, it became a lot more easier for me and then I became a lot more comfortable.

Nina: I think the challenges that I faced were really sticking to my backhand. Something that’s important about culture is that it’s above the waterline. If anything, if you poke a hole through [the ship], then it’s not going to sink the ship. I think it was difficult to find places where I would be OK with failing, and it was challenging to determine that this won’t be as bad if I trust it to someone else and see how they run with it. It was hard, but I think that I grew into a better leader because it was so hard to do.

Stephanie: What were your proudest moments?

Vikram: Firstly was when I was announcing the winner of the Casino during the party just before the CEO speech, Charlie came up to me saying that it’s really good for him to see me practice and that he loves me and hugged me – so that was a really proud moment for me. Another one was when the judges announced that New York had won the dance competition. The third one – probably the biggest one – was when Charlie announced at all hands that this was definitely one of the best Holiday Parties he’s ever been to!

Nina: Some of the proudest moments of course was New York winning – I was absolutely ecstatic when that happened and it remains one of my proudest moments to date, just because it was the whole office coming together – awkward engineers learning how to dance and coming together into a routine. Another really proud moment was seeing how with the Holiday Party, Next Jump brought its heart to it.

Vikram: I really loved the unique feeling to see everyone coming together and being so connected. Felt like an entire family coming together.

Nina: I always love seeing New York, Boston, San Francisco. One more thing that I really liked was seeing how Dan and Emma grew as leaders and stepped up – it really was a proud moment to see how they’ve grown into taking these responsibilities and growing as leaders.

Stephanie: What was your vision for the Holiday Party?

Vikram: In terms of vision, we wanted to make this a very memorable experience for Next Jumpers. We meet just twice a year, once at Summer Outing and once at the Holiday Party. Summer Outing is more around celebrating our families, but this was really celebrating Next Jumpers. So how can we make this a really, really amazing and memorable experience for Next Jumpers?

Nina: Another key theme is this idea that Next Jumpers take care of Next Jumpers. It was up to us to really imagine all the little touches or the big stuff like the midnight surprise for Meghan’s birthday. No one knows Next Jump better than Next Jumpers, and I think this notion of taking care of each other is something that we really tried to convey during the Holiday Party.

Stephanie: What advice would you give to the next team who leads Holiday Party or future Next Jump events?

Vikram: Be okay to put yourself out there and having that trust in yourself that you can lead this event. Another thing is thinking of what you want to practice on initially because if you use this the right way, then it really helps you get better.

Nina: Yeah, I agree with Vikram – definitely being very deliberate on what you’re working on. Definitely be OK to fail. On the culture side, I put a little too much of myself into it, so I think the Holiday Party was really about me finding a good balance. I think in general, trust your team and have fun. Enjoy the fact that you get to work with people who you may not always get to work with.

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