It should come as no surprise that running a start-up brings its own sets of learnings. The biggest ones for me are coming from our users. We have users as young as 17 years and as old as 65 years. And its just us interacting with all of them. Its so totally different from the kind of experience your get while being in Internet industry. As a Product Manager in a consumer products company, I was supposed to be clued into the market constituting of non-techies or average users too, but it was a very macro level of understanding that was required. Even the kind you get out of focus groups etc. are very generalized ones. These people were not a part of my daily interactions. My daily routine consisted of trying to translate this generalized understanding in to the jargons I and my industry-veteran colleagues were comfortable with. Even the people I interacted with outside the organization were of the similar league.
But its so totally different now. On a daily basis I am talking to people from very different backgrounds. And some things start coming back. Addressing people by first name is not the most common thing to do. I had to learn to start on a more conservative side and switch to first name only when I am sure that the person is as comfortable with it as I am. It isn’t about respect or anything. I do not mean disrespect to all the senior folks I address by names, some of them older than my parents. Its just a way of doing things. And addressing people more formally is also another way of doing things, which is *the* way in India outside of certain circles!
Sometimes the learnings have come from situations that were outrightly funny or embarrassing! Would have loved to share some of them, but can’t do that. Since they’d involve people about whom I shouldn’t be writing just like that (no, no – there are no dark secrets. Its just that you have to follow the basic rules of respecting privacy 🙂 ).