Making million dollar mistakes on the path to success

Circles.Life co-founder is creating a strong culture of learning which could help the challenger telco become the region’s next unicorn.
By: | December 11, 2019

At Circles.Life’s Singapore headquarters are its three mission statements clearly written on the wall. One covers customers, one deals with innovation and one is about its people – ‘’Building a great place to work & grow’’.

Rameez Ansar, Circles.Life co-founder, is someone who feels it’s important to walk the talk as a champion of HR and putting people at the centre of the fast-growing startup. That’s why he has put it on the wall for all to see.

‘’I don’t believe in saying things without walking the talk. If you are going to build a high-performance place that’s growing, you don’t want to compromise. So we put it up there on the wall. We want people to join and feel like founders’’.

Learning by failing

More companies are trying to break the stigma of failure, to encourage employees to try new things. This change in mindset is very evident within Circles.Life where mistakes are commonplace when staff push the boundaries and experiment with new ways of doing things. ‘’You can’t innovate and learn unless you fail many times’’ should perhaps be added as a fourth mission statement.

Rameez adds: ‘’We are giving young people the opportunity to make multi-million dollar decisions and then lose a lot of money, and then learn from it and be okay with it while, of course, recognising the lessons.’’ That’s a bold statement, but one Rameez stands by as he gives his staff the freedom to be creative and experiment.

He explains: ‘’People have made some big, big mistakes. We are talking about million-dollar mistakes but we never talk about the actual mistake, but focus on what is the learning to understand what happened’’.

When it comes to analysing mistakes, 5% is spent looking back at what happened, and 95% on what Circles.Life can learn from it. ‘’This sort of learning environment only happens when you do it 100 times, not just once. We have tried a lot of things that didn’t work and our journey will be figured out as we go along.’’

Doing things differently

There are a lot of ways Circles.Life does things differently when it comes to managing people. For example, there are no titles on its business cards, not even for the three founders or any of the directors. ‘’Those are big statements that say no-one is bigger than anyone else. We have people who have moved from network to product side to management. There’s a lot of mobility across the company .’’

When interns join, they often have the confidence to act like proper full-timers. ‘’You’d be shocked here when you see someone really junior telling people what to do and everyone is doing it. If you are stepping up to the plate and want to create a memorable experience we will make sure we create an environment for you to do so’’.

While it could easily read as a recruitment mantra, the message from Rameez is loud and clear: ‘’Just raise your hand and our job is to make sure there’s no structure in the way, no politics, no title, no department. We have that opportunity for you’’.