Hi, I’m Alex Welch. I am the VP of Data and Analytics at tastytrade. At work, I am responsible for understanding our customers and providing insight into their engagement across our products. Outside of work, I have many hobbies. From writing to running, home-labing, and (most recently) woodworking. I read voraciously and love engaging in quality discourse.
1. I’m always trying to learn
Not only do I firmly believe in standing on the shoulders of giants, but I do not presume that things that I have learned before are still 100% true. The world is ever-changing and we are moving faster than ever before. Two core tenants of this philosophy are having a “growth mindset” and digging into areas or subjects that may be seemingly unrelated. You will be surprised by what you can connect together to come up with something amazing.
💡 Tip: In discussion, share what you’ve learned with me (about what works and what has not). I firmly believe that by exploring these experiences we can garner important and valuable lessons
2. I’m not interested in being the smartest one in the room
I know when I am an expert and when I am not (the majority of the time). I am constantly seeking out people who can help me better understand the world around me and listen carefully to their perspectives and analysis.
💡 Tip: I love discussions that challenge my assumptions or understanding of a topic. I also love to hear unusual and thought-provoking perspectives, regardless of my personal beliefs. Don’t take it personally if I also push back. This is meant to foster both my understanding and to return the favor by encouraging you to think differently as well.
3. If I ask for feedback, I actually want feedback
When I ask for feedback, I am looking to improve. As noted above, I’m always trying to learn, and one of the best ways to learn is to gather honest and precise feedback from smart people. Feedback is a gift. Generally, when asked, I will also try to offer feedback.
💡 Tip: When feedback is both specific and actionable, it is one of our most valuable tools. I encourage you to provide honest feedback when I ask and I will return the favor.
4. You need to be a self-starter; I will give high-level direction, but I’m not going to tell you what to do...
We are working together on a mission; we are moving fast; we are learning and iterating. We don’t have time to constantly await instructions; we accomplish more, faster by forging ahead. Self-starting gives you the learning curve to achieve more. In working with you, I prefer to offer feedback and perspectives instead of orders. I like sharing the drive and ambitions of smart and talented people. While I may offer suggestions, they are truly suggestions, not polite orders. You can assume that if I’m working with you, it’s because I believe your self-direction and skills will produce a better outcome than following a detailed set of instructions.
💡 Tip: By default, take action and do not wait. Share constantly your theory of the game; I will collaborate and help.
5. ... and that means you need to be very clear about what you need from me.
My focus is on choosing the right people to work with, not micromanagement. I assume that if you are capable and driven, you will let me know what I can do that will have the greatest positive impact on advancing our shared projects. I may not be able to do all those things, but it’s my job to push back if I disagree about strategies or priorities.
💡 Tip: Ask. Share the key problems in front of you. While trying to avoid serious problems, do not worry about the unavoidable mistakes of commission that come from driving ahead at maximum speed.
6. I can read faster than you can speak
If you want to convey detailed information or need feedback that requires a detailed understanding of the project or situation, please write something up and have me read it. It will save me time, and get you a quicker, more useful response.
💡 Tip: It irritates me when I am in a meeting and the presenter is simply reading a PowerPoint or document. If you have it prepared, send it to me prior. After that, the meeting should be purely additive.
Communicating with me
I am often times clearer in writing than in person. In person, I tend to talk my thoughts out loud which can feel rambly. If my point is not absolutely clear, please ask me to clarify or to be precise with action items. I place a lot of value on having a clear big-picture narrative and being able to speak to the meaning behind the work, as well as what’s exciting about it. If you aren’t sure why we are doing something, please ask. I find that the vast majority of issues are a result of poor or infrequent communication. It’s important we communicate well and often. I don’t expect you to respond to everything in real-time but do expect you to close the loop on everything we open. If it’s on my plate, I will do the same, but try to take things that are in your function off my plate and into your management/organization/prioritization system that you create transparency around. I get frustrated when I have to ask about something twice. Frameworks and context are critical to sharing your work. I am always interested in the reason why you believe what you believe. All of us have a calculus by which we take in information and output a decision or position. Share your logic, particularly as we are building trust. Point to precedent, other industries, or, if you are reasoning from first principles, say that. Critically important we learn how we think so don’t worry about over-communicating.
Things that I do that may be misunderstood
I often times fall into the trap of assuming that everyone has the same context as I do, and as a result, not communicate the context or my perspective as clearly or as broadly as I should. Please remind me to provide more context if I do this.
What gains and loses my trust
The easiest way to win my trust is to deliver I appreciate people who make commitments and stick to them. Another thing that builds my trust is extreme ownership of a problem. I am impressed when someone goes out of his or her way not just to identify a problem, but to rally the right people and processes in solving it. I love it when people use all the resources at their disposal—including me—to overcome challenges in their path. Conversely, my trust is lost with those who incessantly act like victims and who complain about problems and expect them to be solved by others. I build trust easily with those who dream big, who skew toward optimism instead of cynicism, and who manage to translate that optimism into actionable plans. If I give you repeated feedback about your work or your behavior and nothing changes as a result, it will diminish my trust in you. I will do my best to debug why this is happening, as perhaps my feedback was not clear, or my expectations are miscalibrated, but please help me to understand this as well. I value creating a respectful workplace, I have very little tolerance for people who are disrespectful to others.
Strong relationships. I get along well with almost everyone and have built up strong credibility and trust with many leaders across the company. I am excited to meet new people and learn from them. If I can help you have more impact through my relationships, please let me know. Staying calm, collected, and optimistic. I don't get overly emotional and do a good job of staying balanced. I like to look for the good in everyone and in every situation, and I believe things can be great. This makes me effective at pitching projects, giving presentations, and selling candidates. Long-term focus. I think long-term when it comes to prioritizing people, strategy, and initiatives. I usually have a long-term vision for where I'd like things to be and lots of ideas for how we might get there. Thoughtful intentionality: I am strategic, I am a planner, and I like to gather context and feedback to understand a problem deeply before venturing into a solution. This means that I generally have a good rationale for why I think what I think, or have a framework in mind when working through a problem.
My growth areas
I tend to over-explain. This is a product of thinking through the problem openly and as thoughts come to mind as opposed to spending time alone thinking about it. Oftentimes, as I continue to work through the explanation I find another path I did not see before. However, this also tends to create the feeling of being talked down to by others. Please stop me if this is the case and I will address it immediately. I get distracted, often. This is simply part of the deal. If you feel this happening, ask me about my thoughts on the current state of things and what the next steps should be. I’ll not only be able to provide context but it will help me focus again.