Sophia Matveeva, CEO & Founder, Tech for Non-Techies
About this podcast episode
🔮 Future-proof skills by Blending tech fluency with business strategy
Sophia Matveeva, CEO of Tech for Non-Techies, shares the importance of business leaders learning to speak tech to succeed in this Digital Age.
Sophia emphasizes the need for a collaborative ecosystem where tech and business fluently interact, enhancing product development and driving business outcomes.
Here is what you will learn:
✅ Bridging the gap between technical and non-technical professionals ✅ Why modern education systems must evolve to meet the demands of the digital age ✅ The impact of AI and other technological disruptions on job markets and how they pave the way for new skills and opportunities 🎉 Next steps you can take to begin learning how to work with technical teams
(transcripts are auto-generated, so please excuse the brevity)
[00:00:00] Welcoming the Guest: Sophia Matveeva
Bill Raymond: Hi, and welcome to the Agile in Action Podcast. Today’s guest is Sophia Matveeva, who is the CEO of Tech for Non-Techies.
Bill Raymond: Hi, Sophia. How are you today?
Sophia Matveeva: Hi, Bill. I am really excited to be here. Thank you for having me on.
Bill Raymond: Yeah, I’m excited about this conversation. Today we’re going to be talking about learning and leading in a digital-first world. Before we get started, could you share a little bit about yourself for our audience?
[00:00:25] Sophia’s Journey into the Tech World
Sophia Matveeva: Yes, so I run a company called Tech for Non-Techies because I myself am a non-technical person who, to my great surprise, found myself in the tech world and it’s a really, really different world. So I started my career in the media, worked in private equity, then in London, got my MBA at Chicago Booth. And that’s when I had an idea for a retail tech startup, raised some money, and that’s when I hired my first ever developers.
Sophia Matveeva: And at that point, I didn’t know what agile was, I didn’t know what an API was, I didn’t know what developers did. So when somebody talked to me about Ruby on Rails and building the backend, literally sounded like an alien language.
Sophia Matveeva: And so I then essentially realized that, okay, there are a lot of non-technical people like me who are working with tech people, and so I wanted to educate them. And essentially, long story short, I’ll tell you more about I’m sure in the show, but that’s how I then ended up creating Tech for Non-Techies.
Sophia Matveeva: So my aim is to help people on the business side really understand how to collaborate with people on the tech side. So we can all build great products and wonderful careers.
Sophia Matveeva: And also, you know, hopefully just have good relationships and make new friends.
Bill Raymond: Well, that’s fantastic. I really love that you did that. It’s interesting for me because, you know, I grew up in the software development world and I had the opposite. I had a lot of people talking to me about revenue, and tax implications, and legal, and I’m going, what’s all that stuff mean?
Sophia Matveeva: That’s the thing with kind of the industry where you grow up, because you assume that the things that you know are natural, they’re sort of like everybody knows them. And I remember, when I was working with my CTO in my first company, and I just kind of said some offhand remark about shareholder agreements and things that we needed to do for our investors. And then he kind of looked at me, and then I realized it went completely over his head. And he didn’t know whether he should ask or how he should behave and so I said to him, like, do you want me to explain what this is? Do you want to be involved in this? And he said, yeah, like, tell me, I’m quite curious.
Sophia Matveeva: And so I then started explaining things to him and, honestly, for me, it was a really lovely experience because I was so used to feeling like the kind of uneducated person with him. Because he was always saying things, you know, always saying what I literally didn’t understand. And I was always looking confused, you know, trying to google things, trying to find out what tech jargon was.
Sophia Matveeva: But then, you know, if you’re trying to figure out tech jargon, you usually get more tech jargon explaining it, which makes it more confused. And that’s when I really realized that there is this gap in knowledge and in mindset between the tech side and the business side.
[00:03:16] Bridging the Gap between Tech and Business
Sophia Matveeva: And so I can’t solve all of the problems, but if I at least get the business people to understand the tech side, then I think we’ll have more productive companies and better careers.
Sophia Matveeva: And you know, I run a podcast too, called Tech for Non-Techies, and I’ve actually had quite a few developers listening to it because I was really afraid because I was thinking, Oh my God, guys, you know, far more about technology than I do, what are you doing here? And one of the things they said was that, We want to learn how to explain what we do to the business side.
Sophia Matveeva: Because whenever we try to talk to them, their eyes glaze over, they don’t understand. And nothing good happens. So yes, I do think there’s so much confusion, but today, Bill, you and I are hopefully going to bridge that digital divide together.
[00:04:04] Understanding the Digital Era and Agility
Bill Raymond: You and I have talked before, and you talk a lot about the digital-first world and the Digital Era. We’ve certainly had conversations about that in the past here on this podcast, but I always think it’s important to understand where a person’s coming from that’s on this podcast. Because everyone has their own uh, ways that they think about things and sometimes they can be vastly different.
Bill Raymond: So the first question of course would be, what does agility mean to you? And maybe you could also follow that up in the same thought with what the Digital Era means to you.
Sophia Matveeva: Well, I think agility, you know, here, obviously we’re talking about technology, but forget that for a second. I think it just means an adaptable mindset. So basically, somebody who is adapting to the circumstances. So you can think of, you know, skiing, a skier has to be agile because they’re going one direction and then another direction or a sailor you’re attacking, you know, you’re not just, you don’t just have a plan and you’re like, there we go, it doesn’t matter if there’s a typhoon or a shark, I’m just going to go in that direction. No, you adjust.
Sophia Matveeva: This is what I love about software and the digital revolution that we’re in now, is that products are created as these live things that react to the market. Which I think is really fascinating. And so for me, more interesting than making products, say like this microphone, which is like, you’ve made the microphone and if there’s something that doesn’t work in it, there’s nothing you could do.
Sophia Matveeva: You just have to make another microphone. Where software is this constantly adapting thing.
Sophia Matveeva: Your second question was, what is the digital age? So, the way I think about it is, probably, I think it started in the mid nineties when essentially more and more people started going online and businesses and interactions started happening online. And really, it kind of grew from then to the point where we are now.
Sophia Matveeva: We’re now in the information era. So part of that is that, we’re information age workers. So we depend on our knowledge as opposed to on our muscle most of the time. And that knowledge is usually distributed through software. So it has changed the economy. It has changed our behavior. and it has also, you know, changed how we earn and how we learn.
Bill Raymond: Yeah.
[00:06:24] The Impact of AI and Technological Disruption
Bill Raymond: And I think we’re even seeing some pretty significant changes right now, just in the marketplace as AI has taken over, boy, the layoffs are really happening right now, aren’t they?
Sophia Matveeva: There’s always going to be a disruption and there’s always going to be change, there’s always going to be some sort of layoffs when there is a new technology, but also it means that there is going to be a whole new kind of skill set, a new opportunity.
Sophia Matveeva: I’ve got a sort of slightly, slightly morbid example, you know, during the war, so the First World War and Second World War, because the men were fighting, the women entered the workforce. And I remember one of my Chicago Booth professors, he said, well, you know, we can actually look at women entering the workforce in the same way that you can see a new technology entering the workforce and disrupting it.
Sophia Matveeva: Because it was a completely different, you know, it was kind of a big exogenous shift. And yes, that meant that when men were coming back to work, they weren’t entirely happy that, you know, there was somebody else driving the tram. And so, of course, there was disruption.
Sophia Matveeva: But now if we actually look at what’s happened to the economy as a result of that, more people entering the workforce equals more productivity, equals more GDP growth, equals more tax revenue, equals better public services, and so on and so forth.
Sophia Matveeva: So, job losses, obviously really suck for the people who are experiencing them, but also in the longer term, new technologies, new exogenous, you know, positive shifts in the market, which I think, you know, AI is, they’re only going to make us more productive.
Bill Raymond: That’s a really interesting way to think about that. It happens every 10 years or 12 years, there’s some new big thing that occurs and everyone thinks it’s going to change the world. And it always does, to a certain extent, but yeah, like you said, there’s new opportunities.
Bill Raymond: However, if someone wasn’t keeping up with that new technology and knew it was coming, then there are some challenges there. What are some of the companies looking for in this digital era?
[00:08:34] The Unicorn Companies are Hunting for: Tech-Business Hybrid
Sophia Matveeva: I think the new unicorn that lots of companies are hunting for is somebody who understands how to speak business and how to speak tech. And I’m using the word speak quite deliberately because, you know, I think you can be a great technical expert who, you know, fantastic developer, who really understands how the business side things and who really understands, okay, what are how those people incentivized?
Sophia Matveeva: What are they afraid of? What are they looking for? And essentially, if the tech person really understands how to speak business. That’s the kind of person who is essentially going to get their ideas funded, right? Like that’s the person who’s going to understand what are the priorities of the CFO. So that’s how I can get my project funded.
Sophia Matveeva: Or how do I pitch to investors? That doesn’t mean that their implementation won’t be technical, but because they know how to speak to the other side, they can have a more interesting career. It’s the same thing on the business side. So yes, there are lots of coding courses around and yes, that’s wonderful.
Sophia Matveeva: But I think actually a lot of business people don’t necessarily need to go and learn C++, or Python, or whatever. It’s actually really quite hard to do. But they need to understand how to speak to a developer, how to speak to a data scientist, and to just understand the flow. Okay. How does a product go from an idea to something that millions of people are using? What are the steps and who are the professionals involved in this?
Sophia Matveeva: This is basically the employee of the future. A person who can be comfortable in both. And I think our education system right now is not producing that employee, which is why that employee is so sought after because that employee is a self-made person.
Sophia Matveeva: Because they’re either, you know, they have to go and create their own curriculum, because they’re kind of leaving their tribe, and they’re trying to figure out how to speak to the other tribe. And not only does that mean that they actually know some language, you know, they know about shareholders agreements, or they know about APIs. But also they exhibit a curiosity, and you know, curiosity, that’s like, you can’t be innovative unless you’re curious. Does that make sense?
Bill Raymond: It absolutely does. And it very much resonates with me. Okay, I’m not trying to, gate-keep, or anything like that, but being here in San Francisco, there’s a lot of startups. And there’s a lot of people that are trying to create that next big thing. And very often, you hear people say, I just did yet another pitch meeting for this great idea that I had, and it didn’t work out. And this has happened so many times that I’ve heard this. It’s so technical that the people that are investing the money just don’t quite get that.
Bill Raymond: And so you’re starting to see a few things going on here in the space. One is these developers just say, you know what, I’m going to do more in my spare time with less money and just kind of do this by myself, and then when I have a product, I can start sharing that. And that usually goes in a good path.
Bill Raymond: Or, I’m going to ask someone to be the stand-in CEO, which is the person that deep dives and talks about all of this. And it’s a real struggle to work that situation out.
Bill Raymond: If you have one way of speaking, it’s very hard to communicate to the other folks.
[00:12:00] The Role of School Education
Bill Raymond: What you’re saying is that our schools aren’t providing that progression. So I’m curious to hear more of your thoughts on that.
Sophia Matveeva: I have looked at the education system all the way from literally, when we’re tiny to graduate school. So literally, I went to what a school that is constantly ranked as the top global business school. So according to Business Week, according to The Economist, Chicago Booth is like number one.
Sophia Matveeva: And you know what? My MBA cost me $180,000. So you would think that 180 grand, like that’s a lot of money. I learned a lot of really good skills there, but what I was genuinely surprised by is that we didn’t learn how to collaborate with developers but what they said, they said, well, we are giving you schools for the digital age, you can go and learn art, you can go and learn this, you know, really in depth statistics course, you can take this deep dive into Python.
Sophia Matveeva: And I was thinking, well, okay, but if you don’t understand how that fits in, like if you don’t know what Python is, like what it does, okay, you might learn what to do with it, but if you don’t understand how that fits into the whole wider thing, into what a company does, that’s not really going to help you. And I’ve seen this kind of specialization, basically all across all sorts of curriculums, all sorts of curricula, rather.
Sophia Matveeva: And I think that it’s because it is easier to do, it is easier to say, okay, we’re going to teach you a specific skill. This is a course on the French Revolution, and this is all that we do. As opposed to something more holistic, like: How did what happened during the French Revolution then influence political thought around the world? I mean, yes, it actually led to the American Revolution, and it did, it was genuinely kind of world changing. It wasn’t just what happened there in France at that time, wasn’t just this pocket in one country, it did genuinely change the world.
Sophia Matveeva: And so that’s kind of a humanity example. I think with business concepts, with tech concepts too, I think what people genuinely need, more than diving into something really, really deeply, it’s understanding why are we doing this in the first place? What is the implication of this? What does it mean? How does it fit into the wider whole? And that is, that’s harder to create. And it’s also, I think, it’s different from our Industrial Revolution era education system, because during the Industrial Revolution, you know, we all stood at factories, right?
Sophia Matveeva: When you’re working in a factory, the factory owner doesn’t necessarily need you to understand how everything works in the factory, they just want you to know how to use your machine to make lots and lots of widgets. And this is what the education system still does. You learn this thing, and then you learn this other thing in the following lesson and it might be completely different and you don’t really understand how they’re connected. The way we’re taught is then picked up in corporate training programs, and in business schools and so on and so forth. Which is why I think people become more and more separate, and, you know, also as you get older, you know, you’re a developer, you spend most of your time with other developers, right?
Sophia Matveeva: So then you basically start thinking that everybody else in the world is a developer or everybody thinks like you, it’s the same business. And, you know, if you’re a marketer, you’re probably working with marketers, spending all your time with marketers, going to marketing conferences, and you kind of don’t really realize that this other side exists.
Sophia Matveeva: And so what my aim is, is to just teach people enough so they can speak to each other, not completely remake them. For example, I’m actually doing quite a lot of work with law firms right now. And it’s really interesting because law firms started approaching me and they started saying, Well, we want to learn how to speak tech because we work with tech clients.
Sophia Matveeva: And so if you’re a lawyer representing Meta or you’re working with a venture capital fund, you’re still a lawyer. Your job is to draw up agreements or to be a litigator, to protect your clients, your job is the law. But the more you understand what software and service is then you’ll be able to actually serve the client and, you know, win the business.
Sophia Matveeva: I think the future is knowing enough so you can collaborate. Does that make sense?
Bill Raymond: 100 percent does. It’s just so interesting to me that we haven’t figured this one out. It’s been around for so long. I agree with you, you don’t necessarily need to learn how to write in a programming language. But boy, imagine if you knew about these different programming language options and you had this idea for a product that could get you to a point where you could bring someone in to help you with that product and you already had enough base knowledge to know the things that needed to happen.
Bill Raymond: Like, oh, we know we’re going to need a database. We know we’re going to need some sort of a reporting system. We know we’re going to need to have some sort of a marketing campaign, all those little things. Maybe you’ve learned some of them, but not all of them holistically. So I guess I’m curious, you know, you went through your MBA program.
Bill Raymond: You said there was a lot that you wish you had learned. How would a school, maybe incorporate these ideas into their curriculum?
[00:17:27] The Importance of Context in Learning
Sophia Matveeva: You know, what you were just talking about, I actually created that course called Tech for Non-Technical Founders, and I have taught it at London Business School, and I’ve guest lectured at Oxford and, you know, my Alma Mater in Chicago Booth.
Sophia Matveeva: And so that thing of, again, if I have an idea, because, you know, lots of MBA students have an idea for a tech startup, and they have no idea, like, they have literally no skills to build on.
Sophia Matveeva: And so, essentially, I created that holistic overview for them, which is what I wish I had had. And so, in my experience, so, two main courses that have been the most popular, from Tech for Non-Techies, whether I’ve taught, I have taught them at literally schools for school kids. I’ve taught them at business schools and also I’ve taught, you know, updated versions at corporates.
Sophia Matveeva: And it’s interesting that it’s basically the same content, but just the case studies are different. Because, you know, if you’re talking to a 16 year old, you’ve got to have different case study than if you’re talking to a 45 year old, right? But essentially, my course on Tech for Non-Technical Founders or Tech for Business Leaders, it actually doesn’t take that long.
Sophia Matveeva: So you could do a really intense, like you could do super intense day. I usually prefer to do it over a weekend so people aren’t overwhelmed. But the way I think schools should approach it is: A. Keep it short. Because if you put tech in the title and you have some sort of long thing, people won’t sign up because they’re going to think this is going to be really hard.
Sophia Matveeva: You know, some people are going to love it, but the people who love it, they basically don’t need it. Right? That’s the problem. It’s the people who are not going to love it, those are the people who really need it. And they need to know that this is going to be a pretty surface level understanding.
Sophia Matveeva: So that’s one thing. Like keep it fairly short, one day, maybe two days. Another thing is that what you have to do is you have to really make the jargon come alive with stories. And stories are examples because like we all use apps, right? Like we all use some sort of digital products. We all use, we all watch Netflix.
Sophia Matveeva: So give examples, if you want to explain like what a product metric is. Don’t just talk about it and just don’t just say, Oh, this is really important, and we have this North Star Metric. Like I remember when I first looked, I was like. North Star Metric? I don’t understand. And I remember speaking to my CTO and I was like, well, can we say that like our North star metric, that’s like millions, can I say 10 million dollars?
Sophia Matveeva: And it was like, no, no, no. It’s going to be a product metric. I don’t know what a product metric is. Isn’t it money? It’s like, no, like that the money comes off to the product is good. I’m like: can you give me an example? And there are some really simple examples, you know, you can say, okay, the product metric that Tinder would measure is how many matches there are, or how many conversations get started.
Sophia Matveeva: And only once you measure that, can you then start figuring out how much you can charge for a subscription or how many people are going to subscribe. That really short story is going to be understandable to the person.
Sophia Matveeva: And I find that academics are really bad at using real life examples.
Sophia Matveeva: Does that make sense so far?
Bill Raymond: 100 percent does. I kind of liked your little example there. You know, if we’re thinking about being in a digital first world, and we’re thinking about working with software development teams, I mean, at this point, probably anyone coming out of an MBA program, or just working in business without the MBA program, they are likely going to be working with software development teams in one shape or form of another.
Bill Raymond: What are some examples that you can share that would help us relate to this conversation?
Sophia Matveeva: I think what we last spoke, I mentioned a client that came to a class and she was an accountant at Amazon. And I asked her, you know, she wanted to learn tech business for leaders and she actually did have a Chicago Booth MBA. I said to her: how is this going to be relevant for you?
Sophia Matveeva: You know, I’m quite curious because obviously Amazon is a tech company, but you’re an accountant, what’s happening here? And she said that within Amazon, you know, they’re constantly making custom tools. And then sometimes those custom tools become a thing that they sell to the rest of us. I mean, that’s the AWS story.
Sophia Matveeva: And she said that, what she was doing, they were making a custom tool literally for the accounting department. And so she ended up working with product managers, you know, working with developers to essentially give them her experience of what she does as an accountant at Amazon, so they could create some sort of tool.
Sophia Matveeva: And she found this to be a really fascinating experience, because as an accountant, and she got her CPA, then she got an MBA, she was always dealing with finance. And she never had any kind of product experience. It makes sense. If you’re building a product for accountants, you need to get an accountant in the room to give you some insight.
Sophia Matveeva: This is the kind of person that needs to be educated on how to collaborate with their colleagues. And in general, this is what companies and business schools and training centers do so badly. Because even if they taught this accountant, say, a user experience design course, in the product team, there are other professionals involved, right?
Sophia Matveeva: So she might be super good at speaking to the designer, but if she doesn’t know what a product manager does, or like, actually, you know, that if she spoke to a backend developer, like probably nothing would happen because that’s like too far removed from kind of the user experience. If you don’t tell her that, she’s not going to know.
Sophia Matveeva: And generally, what also happens with people, I know this has definitely happened to me, is that if you don’t understand something you ask once, then you get an explanation. If you don’t understand the explanation, you ask again, but you probably won’t ask the third time, you know, you’ll probably kind of not, and you’ll be like, okay, sure, fine, because you’re afraid that you’ll look stupid.
Sophia Matveeva: And then as a result, you’ll go home and you’ll start googling. And sometimes you’ll go down a rabbit hole and you won’t figure that out. So for people like that, for most people, we just need to understand who we’re working with, and what that collaboration looks like and basically what words those people are using.
Bill Raymond: I was thinking about this while you were talking and thinking about some of the experiences that I’ve had over the years. I started off as a developer, then I started working more in the world where I think you live in, which is helping business leaders understand the technology part and vice versa.
Bill Raymond: Over the years, I’ve done many different things and one part of my career, I was implementing project management systems for organizations. I still do to some extent, but maybe not at the deep technical level.
Bill Raymond: But it used to be I could walk into a company with software development teams and very easily help them get set up because I knew their worlds that they live in. All I needed to do was learn a little bit more about their culture or the specifics of their workflows and things like that.
Bill Raymond: And we could fire that kind of a thing up very quickly. But I remembered one of my first big non-software development projects where we had to put new processes in place and a new project management system. And we followed that same thing that we were always taught as project managers.
Bill Raymond: Like, you go to project management courses, I went to one at BU, Boston University, and what they do is they say, you have to start with the scope statement, and then you have to start creating a specification of what you need. This is what you’re taught. And what was interesting to me was we started down that road and we’re all together in a meeting, and this is with a very large architecture firm. you would know their name if I told you. And I was sitting there with the IT department and with the architects, and the teams that are running a very large multi billion dollar project. And we’re all sitting there talking about requirements and what it is that we’re trying to build.
Bill Raymond: And I can’t tell you how completely disconnected we were, not even knowing it. We went off and built our scope statement and some requirements stuff and brought it back to them. And they said, what is this? Even though you use words that we understand, this isn’t what we’re talking about. And so one of the things that I think was super interesting that we just said, okay, before this turns into a us versus them, before this turns into this project is going to fail, let’s completely just step back.
Bill Raymond: And we’re going to spend some time with you at the office. And we’d like you to show us around, introduce us to the people that are doing these things, have themteach us a little bit about how they do the work, how you tie all this together, and the processes that you use. So we got, really embedded in the work a lot more.
Bill Raymond: It did not take us a long time to learn all of that. The team there was super helpful and set up a week for us to meet with all these people, and we had a much better understanding and also it allowed us to start bouncing ideas off of each other.
Bill Raymond: And I think that’s one of the biggest lessons learned that I had over my career was that even if you think you know what is being said in a room, you may not, because of this different language that each and every type of person in business uses.
Sophia Matveeva: Hmm. You know, actually I had an interview with the former CFO of Netflix on my podcast. I cornered him at a Chicago Booth event, because he’s also a graduate and basically stalked him until he realized it was easier to say yes to me than to carry on ignoring my email. So that’s how you get a high profile guest.
Sophia Matveeva: Anyway, so, I was curious because I asked him, I said, well, you know, Netflix is brilliant tech company, but they also are this creative company and you’re the finance guy, you’re basically the dude who holds all of the money, so basically everybody wants something from you. And in a company like that, you have to speak tech, obviously, but you also have to speak Hollywood.
Sophia Matveeva: And you have to be a business guy, like how does this work? And he gave a really interesting example of essentially how the C-suite talks to each other and how they make decisions.
Sophia Matveeva: Essentially, the lesson I got from that was, it’s intelligent people who are the best people in their field, but who have the humility to understand that, okay, you might be the best, I don’t know, content creator or the best like head of content, but you know, what you are doing is different to the CTO.
Sophia Matveeva: So yes, you need to understand each other. You need to understand the dynamics of the industry, you know, the chief technology officer of Netflix has to understand some of the Hollywood dynamics, or some of the TV creation dynamics. They have to. Also, I mean, it’s interesting, they’ll probably want to, right?
Sophia Matveeva: But their aim is not to go and become a film director. Equally, the person who’s commissioning the content needs to understand what information they need to give. So, for example, if they are going to create some sort of series with a bunch of really famous people that they think is going to be a massive hit, well, they probably need to get more service space from their provider, which is AWS.
Sophia Matveeva: Which probably means that, okay, the CTO needs to be involved, and the finance guy definitely needs to be involved, because their costs are going to go up. So if their costs are going to go up, then they need to get more revenue in, which means that the marketer needs to be involved.
Sophia Matveeva: And just with this example I’ve given you, I’ve shown you how the people who make the series are collaborating with the CTO, who’s collaborating and everybody’s collaborating with the finance guy, and then the finance guy is like, okay, listen, this is all great, but this is going to cost us a lot of money so we need to sell some more subscriptions. Okay, marketing, how can you get involved?
Sophia Matveeva: And it’s that kind of collaboration. Like when he was telling me about this, it’s literally one of my favorite episodes. I think it’s probably cause I’ve watched so much Netflix, I just want to know everything about that company.
Sophia Matveeva: But when he was telling me about this, I thought, how cool is that? Like just a bunch of really smart people, who are all creative in their different ways, coming together like this kind of Ocean’s 11 to solve problems. Isn’t that so cool? I would much rather collaborate with people who are really different from me because you’re always going to learn, right?
Sophia Matveeva: And you never feel stupid, but also you never feel too smart. You’re always bringing something to the table and you’re always getting something.
[00:30:32] Understanding the Broader Context in Business
Bill Raymond: That’s a great example, I really like that. And it really does highlight how when you are getting into business, you might’ve gone to school for it, but there’s all these other unknowns that you may not be prepared for. So if someone’s looking to get some higher learning, when they’re looking at the courseware, when they’re looking at the curriculum, what should they be looking for?
Bill Raymond: And if it’s not there, but they’re still really going for it, what should they consider adding into their own personal life to learn?
Sophia Matveeva: I just think for your own sanity and happiness, understanding how the little thing that you’re doing fits into something bigger, I think it’s fulfilling, right?
Sophia Matveeva: Also, just in terms of the course, or the way you would supplement your learning. I think a way to understand the broader context is, figure out who are the people you have to work with.
Sophia Matveeva: So not just your immediate colleague, but essentially just around you, who else has to be involved, and then understand what are their incentives and what are they interested in? Because for example, if you are a bunch of marketers, or a bunch of lawyers, or a bunch of developers, all working together, you assume that it was just my kind and I’m just with my kind. But around that, there will be other people, right?
Sophia Matveeva: There will be other professionals with different skillsets and different mindsets. The more you basically start asking like, okay, you know, maybe you’re a developer and you are working with a marketer. I’m not saying go and take a marketing course, but I am saying, well, think about what is this person interested in?
Sophia Matveeva: Why are they interested in it? How does their boss mark their performance? How are they evaluated? Because if you understand that, even just in a Machiavellian way, you’ll understand what levers to pull, right? Which means that you’re much more likely to get what you want.
Sophia Matveeva: But also, that’s what empathy is. Empathy is learning what matters to another person and then, even if you just say to them, I know that this is important to you. Or even if you don’t know what’s important to them, ask them, What is important for you in your role to succeed? People love that. They’ll think you’re wonderful, and you’ll also learn something.
Bill Raymond: There’s actually one company that comes to mind that does this quite well. And as a client, I can’t really say their name, but they are a very large software company, you’d know their name, and one of the things that they do is they have personal and business objectives that they need to meet. And anytime I go into a meeting with these folks, that’s the first thing they bring up. They tell you what their personal and business objectives are, if you haven’t met them before. And they’ll tell you whether it’s for the quarter, for the year. You get this upfront learning right from them.
Bill Raymond: And then you realize, okay, well, if I have this person in the meeting, then they’ve already made it clear what their priorities are and to stay off of these other topics.
Sophia Matveeva: And also, isn’t it just so comforting when you actually know what other people want? Because, even when you’re just thinking of gift giving, you know, Christmas has just passed, and I know that, well, I’m sure all of us have had at least one person in our lives when we’re thinking, Oh my God, I have no idea what to get them. I wish they would just tell me. And so that same analogy goes into the professional world, where all these people who are doing different things, who want completely different things, and our lives would be so much easier if we understood that a little bit.
Bill Raymond: Yeah, and asking those questions, everyone’s always happy to answer a question, aren’t they?
Sophia Matveeva: Especially if they’re talking about themselves, yes.
Bill Raymond: Exactly. Well, this has been a great conversation. Sophia Matveeva, how can people reach you if they would like to talk to you about this further?
Sophia Matveeva: They can get in touch with me on LinkedIn. That’s where I’m most active. Also Tech for Non-Techies has its own YouTube channel, and Instagram, and TikTok. So all the things. But I personally, I’m most active on LinkedIn and obviously check out the Tech for Non-Techies podcast.
Bill Raymond: Yeah, absolutely. That’ll be available on the agileinaction.com website, and of course, if you’re listening in a podcast app or watching the video on YouTube right now, then you’ll find that in the show notes in the description.
Bill Raymond: Sophia, thank you so much for your time today.
Sophia Matveeva: Thank you so much, Bill. I have loved this conversation.