Podcast #2: Sander Daniels – Cofounder, Thumbtack
Learning that your greatest strength—which is at the core of how you understand yourself—is also your greatest weakness is not easy. There are many leaders who would have refused to take that feedback and plowed on without changing course. But not Sander, as you’ll learn from our conversation.
Sander is a cofounder of Thumbtack, which matches customers with local professionals to help them build satisfying sustainable businesses. It's also a unicorn startup that has raised more than $400M from Sequoia Capital and other top VC firms. In the 12 years since Thumbtack was founded, Sander served as the first customer service agent, before building out the team, then led much of Thumbtack’s early digital marketing, which was central to the company’s strategy and success. For the past few years, he’s focused on all things people, building the company’s culture, values, and team at scale.
Sander and I met when we were doing some work with Thumbtack. I liked everyone I met at the company, but I felt a special kinship with Sander. I remember in one of our first meetings, he told us about the 360 reviews that he and his fellow leaders made public to the company. He talked openly about his weaknesses that had been surfaced in the assessment, and he encouraged me, along with his team, to help him avoid his common pitfalls. If that isn’t leading by example, I don’t know what is.
I also appreciate that Sander values coaching and has relied on several different coaches over the years. I’m working on my coaching certification, so this is personally interesting to me, but I also wish more leaders would talk openly about the coaching they’ve received. As you’ll see, Sander is happy to discuss the role coaching has played in shaping his leadership style.
Here are some of my favorite moments
"Turns out, how I think about myself has oftentimes little to do with how people perceive me as a leader." – 3:44
"I will never forget when they brought me into a room, and if I were previously under any illusions about what I was good and not good at, they were entirely shattered." – 8:57
"When you have a multi-decade outlook on something, you can let the daily or the weekly or the monthly, or even the annual annoyance slide a little bit more easily. – 21:17
"It took going through that process and being brought truly low to then think, okay, what else am I missing out there?" – 28:46
"I love doing anything I can to help those around me thrive ... and help them be on a journey of personal and professional discovery. Because I've seen that that is one of the most powerful things that I've ever been through, so I want the same for them." – 35:32
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