There are two kinds of people: Those who talk and those who do.
When it comes to employee well-being, we see plenty of people talking. What with LinkedIn statuses, webinars and TedTalks and lectures and all of that, there is a lot of talk on social media on what companies should do to keep employees happy. But talks are like smoke in the air. Stressful workplaces continue to exist & employers continue to struggle with keeping employees happy.
This is why, when I first had the experience of working with Tareef on a project for his startup I was surprised to see someone actually making the effort to create an employee experience platform. This wasn't talk. This was one entrepreneur's vision to make the world a better place with the use of technology.
Here's the story of Happily.ai and Tareef Jafferi, the man who doesn't like the spotlight, doesn't write motivational posts, but has impacted more lives than he gives himself credit for.
1. Please tell us about your startup & your journey as an entrepreneur.
I started on my journey as an entrepreneur almost a decade ago after finishing my undergraduate and graduate studies, coming back home (to Thailand) to kick-start a career I very quickly realized wasn't for me.
I was spending a lot of time in the lab waiting for the proverbial paint to dry, but I wanted something more fast-paced, tangible, as well as user experience and design-driven. And so I dived into my first technology (software) startup.
Five startups and many life experiences later, I'm working on a startup called Happily.ai —an employee experience platform that runs engagement, feedback, recognition, insights, and all the meaningful interactions that create a happier workplace —because I learned that there is nothing more important than people.
And people spend too much time at work not happy for one reason or another. The #1 problem that businesses face today is "people problems." What if we can help solve these problems the right way, with the right people, at the right time?
2. How has your solution helped people? A success story you'd like to share. Our platform's foundations are built on people analytics research and methods, which helps us measure how our experiences impact employee happiness (and other outcomes) at every turn.
I'm proud to say that we've made people happier at work. What's more, the business impacts are that we've been able to reduce employee turnover significantly, help managers more effectively lead teams, boost feedback and recognition, and improve employee well-being and happiness in a significant way.
It is always great to hear about how companies are using Happily to make positive changes to how they work.
3. How do you handle the challenge of growth and sustainability? It is a challenge that we're constantly contending with. As a product-focused person, I'm always thinking about improving and making our product more useful to our key stakeholders (managers, people leaders, HR, and employees).
We take all feedback from our customers and end-users very seriously, and we're relentless in uncovering the "whys" behind every input. That helps us make sure we're building the right product that fixes real problems in our ever-changing workplaces. 4. What's the most stressful part of running your business? Keeping the lights on.
With the pandemic and a plethora of economic and market challenges, we have to learn and adapt quickly while still making sure we're not taking any shortcuts. That's a fun kind of stressful (I think that exists?).
But the draining kind of stressful is making sure your team, your idea, your product has enough runway to lift off.
5. Every successful entrepreneur has a drive, desperation to achieve a certain goal. What's yours? I want all of us to be more healthy and happy at work.
I have my fair share of mental health challenges and personal battles with the concept of "happiness." I find solace knowing that we can attain happiness in the workplace. It isn't abstract at all.
My goal is to bring technology and good design to guide the right behaviors, creating happier workplaces.
6. We all have moments where we doubt ourselves and our work. How do you overcome these thoughts? I believe that self-doubt makes us better. The self-awareness component of self-doubt makes us better teammates and communicators. The constant fear of never being good enough makes us find ways to measure and improve ourselves all the time.
And I try to remind myself of all the small and large victories we've amassed in our journey. Although they are not the reasons we do what we do, they tell us that we're heading in the right direction. 7. Success is subjective. What's your version of success?
My version of success is to better people's lives at work to enable a significant improvement in employee happiness, well-being, and performance —while sustainably creating and capturing value (a viable business). 8. How far do you want to go with Happily.ai? Oh, there's so much we want to do! We want to be the operating system for how companies understand and look after their employees.
9. A mantra you absolutely live by:
Take no shortcuts and be kind to everyone, no exceptions.
10. What's the most 'keeping it real' advice you can give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
You might not get it right the first time or the 50th time. Don't be married to ideas (especially your own). It's going to get messy and difficult in ways no one will ever understand. Just pick yourself back up as fast as you can.
If you can do something in a day that takes someone else a week, you're already moving 5-times faster. Don't lose that advantage.
My Personal Takeaway from this Interview:
1. Know what you *don't* want and focus on doing what you do want.
2. Even if you fail, keep trying. You don't always get it right but every failure leads to a better next.
3. Kindness, empathy, humility - never let go of these values.