Here at Ergatta, we are so lucky to have a senior leadership team that deeply cares about the success of their teams while fostering a culture of openness, collaboration, and respect. Ergatta’s leaders possess the rare combination of brilliance and humility—each being an expert in their respective craft, while being approachable and eager to coach, mentor, and share their knowledge with the rest of the Ergatta team.We could expound all day on their exemplary qualities—but instead, why not hear stories, insights, and advice right from our inspiring leadership themselves? The Game ChangersQ+A series spotlights Ergatta’s leaders as they share insights on what makes a team successful, their philosophies on mentorship and coaching, and more.
“Anyone who works with Chang will describe him as thoughtful,” says Deirdre Johnson, Group Product Manager and member of Chang’s team. “As a leader, he is deliberate about hearing different viewpoints and synthesizing them into a path forward. He brings a level of clarity and focus to our work that helps everyone move faster. He makes sure that we’re all brought into the ‘why’ behind everything we do. I think that combination of thoughtfulness and transparency is what makes him great at his role.”
What is your role at Ergatta?
I am the VP of Product, and I get to come to work each day and help build the future of game-based fitness with a group of ultra-talented product builders that have expertise across fitness, gaming, and consumer app domains.Each day can be dynamic, but ultimately, I split my time across:
- Honing and extending our product strategy
- Growing and empowering our team to make the biggest impact
- Collaborating with key partners across the company to accelerate the value we deliver to our customers
What inspired you to join the Ergatta team?
The fitness industry is going through a period of massive disruption, which is always exciting because you get to tackle unique and interesting challenges that haven’t been solved before. The big tipping point to join Ergatta was when I had my first hands-on live demo of the Ergatta experience. The immersive and responsive feel of my rowing activity with the gameplay on screen was like nothing I had ever experienced. The amount they were able to build in such a short time was truly impressive and was a direct reflection of the rockstar team that I would be working with each day.
What makes working on the Product team at Ergatta unique?
What I think is unique about working at Ergatta today is that we have established product-market fit and are already providing value to a core user base, but we still have plenty of room to innovate on top of our core platform.Typically, step-change innovation within a successful company takes the form of “product-market fit expansion” (e.g. extending into an adjacent domain with a different product from the original focus).
With Ergatta, new game concepts bring innovation onto the platform in an additive way
which gives our team an exciting career opportunity that is quite rare in my experience.
How do you think about product strategy at Ergatta?
Even though we are innovating in a new space, we have the luxury of being at the intersection of three mature spaces: (1) fitness, (2) gaming, and (3) consumer software.Each has its own set of unique industry best practices that have been hardened over time and we incorporate into our strategy, but ultimately they all boil down to
having strong customer empathy rooted in human behavior and psychology. Establishing a fitness habit is a huge challenge and understanding the nuances of what may influence the ability for our customer to be successful is at the core of what our team thinks about each day.In addition, I am a firm believer that high-quality execution is a core component of a comprehensive strategy. In modern software development where discovery and delivery are equally important, high-quality execution helps focus the efforts of the team to solve the most impactful problems for our customers and also do it more efficiently over time.
What qualities and skills make someone a valuable addition to your team?
At a startup, being able to prioritize is paramount. Even though we do hire functional experts, we also think about “leverage,” or how can adding one new person translate to 2x or 3x incremental value to the team? Traditionally this is known as the “ability to wear a bunch of hats” metaphor for startups, but I think it is also important that the person derives intrinsic motivation and value from this type of atmosphere.Beyond execution, we want someone that is an “additive culture builder.” Adding even one new team member at this stage can have major cascading impacts to team culture and overall company growth. We hold a very high bar for maintaining our culture, so we seek
low ego, collaborative team players that have a growth mindset. Beyond that, we don’t want to fall into the trap of creating pure copies of existing team members. We want someone that can introduce diversity of perspective into the mix as well, because we all have our inherent biases. Paired with a low ego environment, diverse perspectives will help us build the best products for our customers.
What is your management style?
As a product practitioner, I often find myself applying the same techniques we use in product development to team development, because ultimately it’s all about the people!I like to think about the core pillars of human motivation: (1) mastery, (2) autonomy, and (3) purpose.
Knowing what uniquely motivates an individual is important because a motivated person is going to be able to operate at their best.
- Mastery: I like to start each new relationship with a transparent sharing of each other’s motivators and tendencies, plus where people want to grow so that we can bootstrap our way into a baseline of trust. I like to then pair that with an open dialogue grounded in a growth mindset. Everyone has opportunities for growth, and being able to share that in a safe, trusting environment allows people to get the most out of it.
- Autonomy: I think setting clear expectations on role responsibilities is critical because (1) it gives people a point of reference for what good looks like and (2) allows me to be less hands-on so that people feel that level of autonomy which is often a core motivator for folks.
- Purpose: Last but not least, it’s my responsibility as the leader of the Product team to continue to provide the guiding principles for our product strategy so that people are moving in the right direction and also know how their contributions are impacting the greater purpose of the company. In an agile world, the details of the strategy continue to evolve, so it’s important to also have regular check-ins on new developments so that the individual empowered teams can stay calibrated.
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