Smart Work Story - LAUFT COO Jesse Sharratt

Jesse is LAUFT’s optimization specialist and operations expert, with skills across multiple industries and experience creating strategies for organization programming and processes for corporate ecosystems that foster scalable growth. Phew! That’s a lot, which is what pushes Jesse to do things that nurture his soul, like non-profit projects that keep him grounded in what matters - helping people. Jesse believes that to help people by giving them the professional tools they need to succeed with a low-barrier to entry, we're creating a better world.

How would you say work has changed for you in the last year?

I’ve been working remotely for at least three or four years now, but the mass social experiment in remote work caused by Covid has really accelerated what we've been building at LAUFT, which is an amazing silver lining since what we’re creating is so timely. I’ve also worked at startups where it felt like I was always chasing a car, where opportunities were passing by and it felt like I was functioning in a fear mindset of missing out on something. This has really changed in the last year with the adoption of EOS - the Entrepreneurial Operating System that’s helped us develop an abundance mindset and move away from being fearful of a lack of opportunities, and so much has come our way this last year.

How do you stay motivated to do your best, smartest work?

I used to require a lot of validation. If you told me “good job”, I would work constantly and never tire. It was a weird way to work, but I was honest with myself about what fueled me, which was productivity (even though I never wanted to equate the value of who I was with what I could produce). Now, I build process into every activity in my day, and that allows me to navigate the change in nature of each week in a more formulaic way that gives me peace of mind and allows me to sleep at night. I approach each day thinking about what I can accomplish that day to make the next one better and easier.

How do you harmonize your work life with the rest of your life?

Harmony to me is remembering that people are not just a dollar sign, and not just an opportunity for revenue. Even though I know that what we’re doing at LAUFT still connects to creating wealth, I also focus on creating opportunities for youth to succeed and earn money and self-actualize, especially when they come from disadvantaged starting lines as a result of systemic inequities and oppression. Taking efficiency, productivity and that drive to be successful, and pairing it with nurturing the human soul is what I think is required to find beauty and wonder in life - because existence is wonderful and if we forget that, we become disconnected about what it means to create a beautiful, harmonious life for ourselves.

Is there anything in particular that you love about working remotely?

So much. I used to hate commuting, outside of when I could cycle to commute (that was amazing and I loved it). But working remotely offers so much more - to work from anywhere, to have the flexibility to tailor my working hours to myself and when I’m feeling most productive, and to have colleagues who trust me to manage my daily schedule and the output that I’m responsible for. All of that allows me to mix in a variety of other things that nurture me, which means I get to be the chairman of my residents association, which leads community volunteer activities, repairs on elderly neighbours homes and gardening and community cleanups. I’m also on the board of a charity that combats youth sex trafficking, which I’m really proud to contribute to, and I’m able to volunteer with my local elected leader in trying to make democracy accessible to more people. I’ve been able to pursue so many of my own personal passions because I work in an environment that supports who I am as a complete person - instead of just a worker where I’m in a position from 9 to 5 and that’s who I am. I get to create a world I want to live in.

Is there anything in particular that you find challenging about remote work?

Yes. I’m an extrovert, and being isolated can be difficult. There have definitely been times where I felt a sense of loneliness and isolation from the people I care about. But at the same time, leaning into video conferencing as an opportunity to see one of my friends, instead of thinking of it as a chore, has really helped me. I’m really trying to look at all of these new things I have to concentrate on as opportunities for socialization, which has also allowed me to learn about and appreciate all the dimensions of my colleagues and the people I know. I think approaching the idea of connection with creativity and fun is important, because it’s helped someone like me who loves being in a room full of thirty or forty people find new ways of getting energy from the work I do and the people I work with.

What personal strengths have you been tapping into more with all the changes you’ve experienced in the last year?

I’d say my greatest strengths are reflection, sensitivity and patience. I think I’ve had to use them all more in different ways over the last year, because I’ve reflected a lot on how the world is changing and how we need to meet that change. JFK wanted the four day work week back in the 60s and I think it was Isaac Asimov who said we’d be working five hours a week because of technology (which was supposed to save us time). But we never got there. No one was ever able to use that saved time to self-actualize. Instead, it just meant more work and more churn. The pandemic has taught us to be more deliberate, and I reflect on that a lot. I've tried to be more sensitive to the needs and lives of others, and the reality that not everyone has as much of a stable or distraction-free home life as I do, so confronting my privilege has led me to be more patient and create more space for people. A great lesson I learned from travelling is how important it is to ask myself, did you pack your patience? And I love to say that when we set out on an adventure, because chaos ensues and things go wrong - life can go off the rails but if you pack your patience, you can navigate any experience and trust yourself to get through it.

How good are you at asking for help?

I don't know if I was always good at asking for help. I grew up reading a lot of fantasy and mythology where the hero does it by themselves. I think I wanted to emulate that in my own life, and it was my partner Sophie who taught me about emotional labour and the idea that all the things that people do behind the scenes to help people is what we may not be aware of. That opened me up to realizing I could do more to help people, and also accept more help (and I’m still learning to do that). I have this tendency to blaze ahead and I work at an extreme pace that a lot of people really don't like. So I think I’m still on that journey. I’m still learning how to ask for help and while I’m getting better, I’m usually the one offering.

What does mindfulness mean to you in the age of remote work?

Mindfulness means so much. I think to be a successful remote worker you need to take care of your mental health all the time. Being able to pull yourself out of the doldrums and motivate yourself and find the beauty in the world is about being mindful of how wonderful existence is. One of my favourite thoughts that changed how I look at the world is about the staggering odds of everyone’s existence from 13.8 billion years of unbroken evolution. From all the exploding stars and atmospheric elements that created a Goldie Locks environment that gave rise to every sperm and egg that succeeded to arrive in the version of us here today, all of the things that had to go right for 13.8 billion years in order to create us - the odds of each of us existing as we are today are more astronomical than there are stars in the universe. Every single human on this earth is a miracle and we are the sole proprietors of a perspective that will only ever exist in this moment of time, and can never be recreated again. Remembering that keeps me mindful of what I’m here to do and how I can create a better world.

What do you think it means to be emotionally available or emotionally aware, and how important is that to your overall well being?

Being emotionally aware is incredibly important to help motivate and engage your team, and I think it means being ready to be vulnerable. When you’re hiding anything or holding back your emotions, it’s usually with the intention to make things easier, but the other side of that is that maybe you’ll end up harbouring more resentment when certain situations come up. Talking through it can really help quash those feelings and the issues that would arise as a result of them, so I think being emotionally available actually sets you up for better success.

How do you make smart work?

For me, it's a combination of things. You’ve got to tell yourself who you are. So much of having a personality is a narrative in our minds about who we are, and if the narrative is I can’t do that or I can’t get this done or what if I fail or am I an imposter, then those are the things we actualize to the world. If we focus on what if I succeed, or what if I knock this out of the park, those are incredibly motivating “what ifs”, and that’s what gives me the motivation to go make smart work. There’s also hip-hop, Rage Against The Machine, coffee and my Bose wireless headphones that put me 100% in the zone, along with having multiple monitors to optimize all of my efficiencies. All of those elements get me in the headspace that allows me to make smart work.

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