5 lessons to live by

Author - Cara

Cara Norton

06 April 2020 | 3 min read

Tell me three things about you. That request is answered by many people in different ways depending on their age, values, experience, aspirations, desire to be perceived in a certain way.

My answer is I have 3 children, I’m from Norfolk and I’m lucky enough to work with my friends every day. That work happens to be in fintech now, and previously in a bank. But the industry doesn’t really matter. And I’d like to explain why.

I started working for what was Virgin Direct in 1997. Fresh out of uni with a random degree and needing a job, my dad suggested I apply. Work in financial services? What little girl ever wanted to do that…? But I went for it and I loved it – loved being able to learn, loved the culture of this little company which was biting at the ankles of the establishment (the original fintech start up), and most of all loved the people, many of whom have become wonderful friends.  God it was hard work though – it was all consuming, fast moving, often ambiguous and so tough a lot of the time. But it didn’t feel like a job, it felt like an endeavour. Something I was a part of and gave a shit about, something special I wanted to succeed at, for myself and my family, my friends and for the good we did for others.

I still appreciate that I was lucky to grow up there. Much of my life has been spent somewhere I loved and I know they will always be some of my happiest days.

But now it’s been a year since leaving Virgin and a year since joining Snoop, I can take a step back and reflect.

And here are the top 5 things I’ve learnt:

1. Always live up to what you ask your children to be – I often say to my kids that if they’re kind, brave, value their worth and try their hardest they won’t go far wrong. These values have always guided me, but in a small team in a fast paced, fluid start-up environment, I’m now much more conscious of my worth.

2. 80% perfect is ok – it’s a female trait I think… now this is a huge generalisation, but men are more likely to take risks, wing it, do enough. Women are more likely to want to finesse and strive for perfection. I’ve learned to dial down the need for perfection and understand that doing enough for the job in hand, if it’s appropriate, delivers faster, better outcomes.

3. Be conscious of gender, but don’t let it define you – I worked in a male dominated industry for 20 years, and yet only in the last 6 months or so, did I really become conscious of that. I’ve been fortunate that gender has never been an issue for me, and I never felt it held me back in that environment. But now I understand more about my natural tendencies, I can see  have been shaped by it and I’m now more conscious of my role as a woman in a predominantly male team. But whilst consciousness is no bad thing, the culture at Snoop means it’s not an issue. Our team gels well. And diversity in all its forms is what we will strive for as we grow.

4. Be comfortable being uncomfortable – don’t shy away from giving your opinion and sticking to it. Demand to be heard, even when others disagree. When a decision is made, regardless of whether you agree with it, always back it. But only after you’ve had the debate.

5. Go easy on yourself for not being a superhero – it’s a pretty busy gig being a full-time working mum, in a start-up with its HQ in a different part of the country. Constantly torn, constantly feeling guilty about wearing the mum hat to the detriment of work, and the work hat to the detriment of mum. But, you’re only one person. And your best isn’t just enough – it’s ample! Your kids will appreciate you building the best possible future for them, and your team at work should always embrace you as the person you are, which includes you in the role of a parent. It works so much better for everyone!

I joined Snoop 1 year ago. And what a journey it’s been so far. Every day I remember how lucky I’ve been to have this opportunity to build something special, which I care about deeply with friends, old and new.

But I also know I deserve to be here, it’s not just luck. I’ve earned my place.

And in the bizarre, crazy times we find ourselves in today, when the lines between home and work have blurred into insignificance, I feel like some good will come for the future of our professional lives. Remote, flexible working won’t be a thing which just ‘mums’ or ‘some dads’ do. Snoop is a bigger team now as we’ve all met each other’s children, seen each other’s homes.  We can all understand each other’s loves and pressures outside of the confines of an offie.

Much as we were always a great team, we’ll go forward from this point with a new string to our bow, a new dimension and a new depth. And I’m so excited to see where it takes us.

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