“Keep doing nothing, Bindu.”
This is one of my favorite compliments at Mode.
It’s meant for a person who always responds to appreciation by saying, “Oh, it’s nothing.” Bindu does amazing work. Reliable, collaborative excellence where she’s not expecting, and would rather not get any attention.
So her entire team, and throughout Mode, we have picked up on her manager’s joke: “Keep doing nothing, Bindu.” It’s a fantastic way of complimenting someone who’d rather not hear about it, thankyouverymuch.
But as mortifying as a blog post with her name in the title probably is for her, it always reminds me that stealth excellence is something we should all celebrate.
Because humility is a quality rarely celebrated in tech.
It’s not surprising that confidence is a key ingredient to entrepreneurship and disruption, but it is also notorious in how it can create toxic cultures.
It can also hold back the individual careers of anyone who is not overly confident. If you say you’re doing nothing, unfortunately, enough people will believe you are doing nothing.
“We know that confidence is a core part of how employers hire and that interviewers frequently confuse overconfidence with actual skill,” said Megan Hogan, Mode's Director of Talent. “We counter that by creating interview strategies, panels and working sessions that more clearly demonstrate ability. We also carefully describe the type of experience expected so that under-represented groups don’t rule themselves out before they even apply.“ ( See open roles at Mode. )
Appreciations on Slack and at our company all-hands meeting also help to allow for humility as well as encourage gratitude. This in turn requires the willingness of supportive, vocal peers.
“Celebrating wins helps us reinforce what matters in our culture—the things we celebrate are the culture,” adds Derek Steer, Mode’s CEO.
So at the end of the day, please consider this option: Do great work, but mix in some humbleness along with the hype. Follow through with effortless high standards.
And if you can’t, please treat each humble person you know like they are Thanksgiving plus Christmas plus New Years rolled into one, with all the admiration you can muster, and all the expressiveness they will tolerate.