After a reflection period and looking at how far we’ve come at AudioMob, I think it’s vital to pause, reflect, recognise and revisit our vision from the start. AudioMob kicked off from the back of a Christmas party - a friendship formed through a shared love of hip hop and jazz music, game design and advertising. The result is a company transforming the industry and bringing something innovative and fresh to the table - for ad-tech, gaming and audio content everywhere. But looking back, I realise our vision was not just what we wanted to achieve through AudioMob, but really how we achieve it, by writing our own rules.

I’ve been thinking about thought leadership, the leaders we aspire to be and what that meant for myself and Wilfrid. We decided early on that we did not want to be “cliché” leaders who talk about people but don't actually care to try to understand them.

We’ve had our own experiences directly and indirectly where discrimination, harassment and toxicity were accepted, tolerated and even celebrated because the “talent” has been “too good to lose." I wondered how those subjected to that behaviour would flourish in a truly inclusive and psychologically safe culture, and if it is possible to create a culture where we can authentically stay true to the heart of the company throughout our growth stage.

I've always prided myself on being transparent, sharing our journeys as Co-founders and what we’ve learnt along our journey of being entrepreneurs (from raising funds to being on Forbes 30 under 30). Witnessing poor leadership decisions has taught us how to make the right ones, even if sometimes doing what is right is not the same as doing what is easy! Priorities will sometimes seem conflicting but we’ve never regretted making a decision that has put our people first. So here are our learnings over the past 12 months on what being a leader of the future needs to look like:

1. Zero tolerance for harassment is a bare minimum. 
We are now in a position of privilege, where we can pave the way for the future. We don’t just say zero tolerance - we mean it and enforce it. There will be times when we have to take a hard stance, and keeping people physically and psychologically safe from harassment is the bare minimum.

2. Representation in Leadership is key.
I posted an article a few months ago sharing how we boldly decided to hire our leadership team early in our growth stage. However, I didn’t share the pride and benefits we’ve seen from having a diverse leadership team with all types of representation. These benefits have naturally ensured diverse hiring and inclusive behaviours.

3. Hire on culture add, not a culture fit. 
Hiring on culture fit means you get what you’ve always got, but hiring on culture add means you’ll get something new - a new perspective, new ideas, and new experiences. The advertising space remains one of the fastest growing industries globally, but methods for growing business in this space have remained unchanged for many decades. The advertising space is known for its many brilliant (and sometimes notorious) characteristics. With a company as diverse as AudioMob operating in ad-tech and as it is 2022, we aim to champion a different way of working. Culture interviews have been invaluable to us. We don’t only care about your work experience and skills but your approach to feedback and how you collaborate with the AudioMob team and industry as a whole.

4. The power of showing vulnerability as a leader.
Sharing your experiences and mistakes as a leader: There are strengths and lessons to be learned in vulnerability. We’ve noticed that when we’ve felt more vulnerable and dared to expose our vulnerability, we've shown the most courage. People feel vulnerable when they are out of their comfort zones - and being out of your comfort zone comes with genius ideas, new territories and business opportunities you've never previously explored.

5. We’re all human, even CEOs.
Looking at failure from an opportunity perspective and egoless learning lens means fewer mistakes and a laser focus on a culture of high-performance hand in hand with well-being. Whatever your role, we all experience failure, how you learn from it is key.

6. Authenticity - Sold as seen.
Being true to what and who we are, we’ve chosen to ensure we hire based on our company's reality and where we are. Not selling the future or a dream.

We know AudioMob won’t be successful without talent, and talent won’t grow where there is discrimination, lack of representation and inclusivity. Standing by our values is paramount - this is not a thought but a fact. Gen Z has taught us to hold companies accountable, that people don’t care about pay rises over fair treatment, and we love it!