John joined Wonolo as the Head of Business Operations in 2016. He leads customer success and is focused on scaling Wonolo’s regional market teams. Prior to Wonolo, he led business development and operations at Mixbook.
What are you grateful for today?
Today, I am grateful to work with a team who is 100% focused on doing better for others. It has been an awesome experience observing the impact a job marketplace has on local communities and people’s lives. Through technology, we have broken down workplace barriers and empowered those who are underserved or disadvantaged. This fuels the energy of our company culture. Wonolo makes work flexible and fulfilling for everyone.
Outside of work, family is very important to me and their support has been a guiding star. I’m thankful that my wife and I are fortunate to raise children among multiple generations and pass down meaningful family traditions.
When you were in high school, what did you dream of becoming?
Back in high school I was fascinated by computer games and loved the adrenaline of competing. I played sports, but my mom made sure school was the #1 priority. I had many dreams, and I thank my parents for exposing me to so many activities and experiences while growing up.
I always dreamed of going to college and believed success as an adult meant wearing a suit every day. I remember the excitement of getting my first corporate internship. On my first day, I wore a tie and jacket but felt awkward when everyone told me to dress less formal. Although less frequent than believed; today I enjoy the occasions I do get to wear a suit.
What events in your life have led you to your current role/job today?
Without knowing me, how will I be perceived? Growing up a minority in a homogeneous small town it was a question I struggled with. But going through life with this question in mind has led me to become more culturally aware through everyday work and life encounters.
I feel personally connected to Wonolo’s mission – as our platform is merit-based and ties opportunity and upward mobility to experience rather than societal stigmas. This all ties back to how I lead and being culturally sensitive has been one of my pillars to building team success.
What is one life advice you can give to anyone?
It is complicated to be happy at work. Especially at a start-up, when everything is moving fast and being uncomfortable seems to be the only constant at times. As the company grows, it is easy to become self-conscious and wonder if you are sinking or swimming. These pressures can create a feeling of “I have to change.”
My advice is to focus on changing actions, not yourself. Embrace your identity and let it drive your authentic path to success. Everyone goes through periods of development and learning. Focus on improvement, but don’t let it change who you are. Diversity of thoughts, perspectives and identity only make a team and company stronger.
When things do not turn out the way you planned, what is the first thing you do?
Trust and self-awareness are at the core of this process for me. It has taken time, but assessing a situation objectively and being honest with myself about the things I can control and improve next time. For example, when I am stuck, having the confidence to ask for help. Feedback and critiques are a part of life – especially at work – and is often meant to help you grow.
As a leader, I have focused on building relational trust with my team. Trust that I will define and guide strategy, but more importantly listen and accept input. When acknowledging something amongst the team is not working, trust has been the catalyst to honest feedback and discussing hard truths openly.
Please finish this sentence: If you really knew me, you would know that _____.
I am very approachable and believe everyone has something to teach. That I enjoy planning surprises and thinking through how they will react. It makes me happy to see others smile in the moment of surprise.
That I prefer to hear TV and movie spoilers. Knowing the ending makes the anticipation of it happening that much greater.
When you have to make a difficult decision, what do you lean on?
The fear of making a wrong decision is natural. When I find myself struggling with a decision, it’s often because my mind thinks something is rational while my heart feels something else.
Overtime, leaning on my values and considering the impact on others has made me more confident in making difficult decisions.