Francisco Lé is Attentive’s Head of Growth since 2016. We’ve managed to steal a bit of his time and ask him some questions on growth, expectations and his professional path.
How did you end up at Attentive?
I was working with a friend, in Product Design, and that area made me a bit sad. I wanted to be on the edge of technology, I was disappointed and wanted to do something different. I spoke to Daniel since I was going through a rough time with very little work, and the opportunity appeared naturally. I’ve started right away as the Head of Growth, but with a lot of help from them, especially from Daniel, since the Business Team was just Daniel and I. We’ve tried to build more processes, to start showing off Attentive and to give some insights to the Development Team as well. We didn’t want to be a company only focused on the product, but to give it other focal points, such as branding, design, UX… This is how I’ve started, and now we’re here – I have a team and I may not be producing so much, but I’m managing resources instead.
Was that your expectation when you’ve started?
That was always my expectation since I’ve started working. I always wanted to manage people, I’ve always struggled to be a doer. I’m more of a thinker.
What does growth mean to Attentive?
We want to make our product grow, as well as the people that work with us. This was something that, since the very beginning, Daniel and I always talked about. We want to work with people that help us grow and that we can help them grow as well. Attentive is a set of elements. It’s not about growing the product no matter what, it’s about a sustained growth. We look at growth as a sustained and sustainable thing, not as an instant boom.
And what does growth mean to you?
I share that vision. Even though we’re getting closer and closer to needing a boom, we’re preparing Attentive for that.
But now it has other foundations, whereas if it had happened in the beginning…
Yes, it is a “sustained boom”. I believe we have the right foundations and we’re ready for it.
Marketing and growth have a lot to do with attitude. What’s your stand on attitude for a startup?
I think that startups’ attitude has a lot to do with the people that work there. The startup world is very trendy right now – that doesn’t mean people are better, it only brings up what was already in them. I don’t think there’s a startup attitude, there are people that work there, have their own attitude and startups easily absorb that attitude.
Do you agree the marketing and growth areas have a lot to do with the attitude people bring in, more than in other areas?
I used to think so. Right now, I believe it is common to all areas, maybe marketing is a bit more visible, that’s all. Throughout social media, and even landing pages, you can have a tone of voice chosen by your team for the company – and that is the product of the people on that team. On the product/development areas, you see how things are developing but the client only sees the final product. On marketing and branding, you can have a better perception and grasp of your users/clients and adjust your attitude accordingly.
Startups have this attitude of “it’s ok to fail and make mistakes”, that sets them apart from other companies, with different realities.
We can afford to do that, while some more established companies can’t. Also, our management allows us to do that, it’s a different mindset. If we fail, since we’re a small team with so much instant feedback, it’s not a problem. We can do better on the following week. It’s not an “it’s ok to fail”, but instead an “it’s ok to fail as long as you learn from it”.
What was the most unexpected lesson you received?
In life, we keep on learning, at work as much as in our personal life. The lesson that comes to my mind right now is: let it go. You know where you want to go, you know your goal. If people don’t do things your way it’s not a problem, as long as everyone’s focused on the goal. There are a million ways to get there.
And you weren’t expecting that lesson?
Not this soon in life, no.
What’s your favorite thing about working at Attentive?
To have this freedom to do what I think it’s best for Attentive. On many other companies you don’t decide anything and most of the times you’re not even heard. Here at Attentive, each process has its owners, but everyone is always listening. This doesn’t mean people are going to do exactly what you propose, it’s feedback and that’s our foundation – after that, it’s up to the owners to decide. “Disagree and Commit” is very important and it’s one of the things I appreciate the most at Attentive.
You already knew the founders…
I knew two founders and I’ve only worked with one of them before.
How was that adaptation?
I had worked with Daniel in college, not even professionally, and we always got along. On that level, the impact was low. When it comes to product and development, there are always different ways of doing things and what one values may differ, but it was peaceful!
Did you struggle with having a previous personal connection?
People here don’t know me at a personal level, they know my professional self. Even though in the startup world, that is a very fine line, this is my professional self. And that shows when we talk about something that did not go that well or something we don’t agree on. I don’t take it personally.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that is not on your resume?
My awesome golf skills. I was born to golf. (just kidding).
My personal qualities, since there is no way – and maybe I wouldn’t even want to – to put it on my resume.
Which apps have you been using on your smartphone?
Very few. I try to disconnect from my smartphone as much as I can. However, I do fall asleep listening to podcasts. I also use Hole19 whenever I’m out golfing!
Usually, when I’m not working I try to disconnect and take that time for me and my family.
What’s your superhero?
What’s your villain?
What would you take to a desert island? Pick 3.
A putt and a ball, an mp3 player – something with music -, and a notebook and a pen.
Pick your favorite accomplice – fictional or real!
Maria João, my wife.