Lesson Earned #1: MAF Moves Pretty Fast
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MAF moves pretty fast: If you don’t stop and contribute once and a while, you might miss it.
I’m a big fan of comedies. And John Hughes. So on my first day when everyone kept telling me “things move pretty fast around here,” I immediately thought of Ferris Bueller.
Though I’ve only been at MAF for a couple of weeks, I can see how true this statement really is. From Day 1, I was “thrown into the fire”. I sat in on my first set of meetings anticipating I was meant to take on an “observatory” role.
But at MAF there’s no time to just sit back and watch. By the time we’ve come up with an idea, we’ve already analyzed how to improve it and are in the midst of implementing the new plan.
Following the MAF tradition, Aparna (another New Sector Fellow), and I carved out time to meet with every member of the MAF staff. These one-on-ones began as purely informational – how do certain programs work? who are our partners? – and soon morphed into full-fledged brainstorming sessions.
I began to envision the larger picture, examining how the different departments at MAF connected and found myself seeking ways that I could bolster their communications.
It was my first task, and a very simple one at that, but my goal changed so suddenly and organically. What at once seemed like a very passive activity turned into my first project proposal – all within just two days of being here.
For any newcomer, especially a new fresh-off-the-grid grad like myself, the thought of coming in and making a new proposal outside your project’s scope seems like a terrifying get-you-fired-pronto strategy. But at MAF, it’s not just natural; it’s vital.
As a relatively new company MAF operates like a startup in many ways, meaning there are areas in which there is no rubric for success. After all, we’re attempting to tackle the otherwise unaddressed issue of bringing the unbanked out of the shadows; there is no beaten path to follow.
Some can see this as worrisome, and it certainly is for me sometimes. Not always knowing the direction in which you should be heading can seem like a daunting task. Yet it’s also very comforting. Without strict processes to spend time understanding, I can inject my own ideas quickly and without question.
At MAF, the answers to the difficult problem we are trying to solve are unclear, but the need to answer them great.
In such a case, hesitation can inhibit. Often times the longer I sit on an idea, the longer it takes me to follow through with it. Once I do, the moment has passed and the solution is obsolete. Thus the need to constantly be moving makes us better employees, better thinkers and better people. The ultimate reward, though, is an instantaneous unity that inevitably arises from partaking in this mentality.
By contributing in out-of-the-box ways and with out-of-the-box thinking, I unknowingly became part of the team and one with the culture. This mindset is what makes MAF tick and if you don’t jump on board fast, you’ll miss the ride.