Meet Jonathan Smith, Chief of Staff at Tembo:
Jonathan Smith, the Chief of Staff at Tembo, boasts a diverse career path, from qualitative market research to founding a tech startup that encountered both success and closure. His journey led him to Tembo through a chance LinkedIn message to Rye Walker, former CEO of Astronomer. Smith’s versatile skill set and utility-driven approach positioned him as the day one Chief of Staff at Tembo, epitomizing adaptability and resilience in the startup realm. His story encapsulates the value of varied experiences in shaping innovative tech solutions for developers worldwide.
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Quick Read: Jonathan Smith, Chief of Staff at Tembo, Interview Highlights
In a recent episode of the Default Global podcast, I had a chance to interview Jonathan Smith, the Chief of Staff at Tembo. We discussed a range of topics, from his unconventional journey to his current role to the advantages of global hiring for tech startups. Here’s a summary of our discussion and the insights he shared.
The Journey to Chief of Staff
Jonathan Smith’s journey to his current role at Tembo is far from the traditional path. Beginning his career in operations for a consulting firm, Smith then transitioned to working with a large nonprofit before founding his own tech startup. While his startup wasn’t successful in the long run, it was through this experience that he made valuable connections, one of which led him to his current role at Tembo.
In his own words, “I knew I wanted to stay in tech, but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I’d tried the founder thing, it hadn’t worked out, made a lot of great connections. One of those connections I made along the way was with a man named Rye Walker.”
The Role of a Chief of Staff at a Tech Startup
Smith emphasized that the Chief of Staff role is multifaceted and constantly evolving. From functioning as an executive assistant to running team meetings and planning company-wide events, his responsibilities depend on the needs of the company at any given time.
“Chief of staff is not a job description. It is a way of thinking,” Smith said.
The role is about meeting the needs of the executive team and ensuring they can focus on what they do best – leading the company.
Lessons from Being a Startup CEO
Having previously been the CEO of a wellness startup, Smith shared how this experience has shaped his views on leadership and strategy in his role at Tembo. He emphasized the importance of focusing on being the best leader you can be every day instead of trying to fix every problem. Smith also highlighted the value of storytelling in building a startup and the importance of focusing on building an investable business rather than trying to impress individual investors.
Tembo and the Power of Postgres
Tembo aims to reduce the complexity of the modern data stacks by leveraging the power of Postgres, an open-source relational database system. Smith explained that while many people are using basic Postgres, the system has a vibrant ecosystem of extensions which can make it do almost anything.
“We really do want people to believe they can use Postgres for all of their use cases,” Smith said.
By harnessing these extensions, Tembo is working to make Postgres the go-to solution for developers around the world.
The Benefits of Global Hiring
Tembo has recognized the benefits of hiring globally from the very start. Smith shared that they made their first global offer just two months after he joined the team. By hiring globally, Tembo has been able to tap into a diverse pool of talent and expertise. Smith noted that their global hiring strategy has allowed them to bring in experts who are doing incredible work in Postgres from all over the world.
Advice for Early Stage Tech Startups
Smith shared three pieces of advice for early-stage tech startups. First, he emphasized the importance of being open to the possibility of hiring your dream candidate, regardless of their location or current situation. Second, he encouraged startups to consider how each hire can benefit the company in multiple ways – from enhancing the company culture to improving the fundraising story. Finally, Smith stressed the importance of viewing every meeting as an opportunity to advance the company’s story, regardless of the immediate outcome.
In conclusion, our conversation with Jonathan Smith of Tembo offered valuable insights on the importance of adaptability in leadership roles, the power of Postgres, and the benefits of global hiring for tech startups. His advice for early-stage startups is a reminder of the importance of a positive mindset and strategic thinking in building a successful company.