The story of my last job was a fairly typical one. I loved what I did, who I did it with, and the company I did it for. I was on an amazing team and my role gave me ample opportunities to make meaningful contributions and visible impact. The longer I was in that role, the more I wanted to increase the impact I made on both the company and the people around me, something I made clear to my managers at the time.
They responded by making me a manager over another employee and then again over a team of six, giving me chances to lead, grow, and create impact I hadn’t had before in my role as an individual contributor.
Now, I’ve never been a ‘management junkie.’ I didn’t spend my weekends reading leadership books or listening to TEDx talks on the subject, so when I was made a manager for the first time, there were plenty of things I didn’t know. The one thing I knew for sure, however, was that I wanted to be good at my job as a leader.
The company I worked for, like so many others, didn’t have formal training for first time managers, meaning that if I wanted to be the best manager ever, I had to learn how on my own. I tried checking out books, listening to management podcasts, and reading articles online, but between not knowing what to learn, where to learn it from, or how to fit my self-training into an already packed calendar, it was pretty obvious that I needed help.
Soon after I came to that realization, I saw a LinkedIn post by Steve Arntz mentioning an 8-week test cohort for his company, Campfire. In the cohort, managers would build new skills and improve in areas like building relationships and driving outcomes. The second I saw that post, I had just one thought: YES!
I applied, got selected, and was immediately blown away by what Campfire was doing. I had finally found quality manager training that was structured for me and fit seamlessly into my busy schedule. Aside from the content itself (which was incredible), the biggest thing I learned throughout those 8 weeks was that the problem I had of “I don’t have experience, my company has no formal training for me, and I don’t know how to improve,” wasn’t just a ‘me problem.’ It was a problem spread across managers of all experience levels and companies of every size. A problem Campfire could fix.
Towards the end of the cohort, I sent Steve a connection request on LinkedIn. I’m not much of a networker, but we had gotten to know each other and I wanted to follow his and Campfire’s journeys. He accepted the request and immediately sent me a message asking to talk to me about my experience in the test group. I agreed.
We scheduled a 15 minute call and spoke for an hour and a half, a conversation that ended with Steve telling me, “You have to come work here.”
I didn’t know how to respond. What Steve and his team were building was amazing and solved a huge problem (one I knew about firsthand), but I loved my current job and hadn’t been looking to move on. Steve and I spoke a few more times after that initial meeting and between those conversations and my own due diligence, I decided to join Campfire in August 2021.
What made me pull the trigger?
First, Campfire solves a problem I have firsthand experience with. The Campfire test cohort showed me I wasn’t alone and after participating in that, I could only imagine how widespread of a problem effective manager training (or the lack thereof) really was.
I also caught the Campfire vision. Campfire creates a way for companies to focus on the ‘tactical work’ necessary for them to survive and grow and offload the equally essential element that is creating amazing managers.
Finally, I joined Campfire because I could tell they were led by example. From the first time I spoke to Steve, I could tell he embodied the exact kind of manager Campfire builds, giving me confidence that he and his team could make that goal a reality for so many. Steve showed me what it meant to be a “Campfire manager.”
A Campfire manager, as I have learned, is a manager who...
...believes in you. Steve never doubted what he thought I could accomplish if I joined Campfire. The best leaders and managers believe so much in their team’s abilities that it inspires them to believe more in themselves and push to go further, faster.
...knows your goals and wants you to achieve them. Before making an official offer with a job title, description, and salary, Steve asked me what my goals were in my life and my career. He wanted to know exactly how a position at Campfire could help me achieve them. Leaders shouldn’t force fit people into off-the-shelf positions. They should flex, mold and create positions that allow people to do their best work.
...listens. Steve is wildly passionate about the work he’s doing at Campfire, and I’m more than sure he could talk about that passion for hours at a time. But he doesn’t. Instead, he asks insightful questions and then, he listens. Campfire managers understand that power comes from teamwork and teamwork requires listening. Any manager can bark orders and measure results; a Campfire manager asks questions to gather the best ideas, get people in the right place, and understand how they can improve both as leaders and teams.
...really cares. While my joining Campfire was at the root of all the conversations Steve and I had, it wasn’t his only focus. He was interested in my progress as a manager, my success in my current position, and my overall happiness with where I was in life. It’s not hard to find a manager who cares about the results you’re getting at work. What’s much harder to find is a manager who cares about you as a person first. Someone who prioritizes your success and happiness, even if it means moving on to bigger or better things elsewhere.
At the end of the day, I joined Campfire because I am a believer in the solution they provide and an even bigger believer in the people providing it.