If you’ve been following Quontic, you’ll know by now that one of our core values is Progress Not Perfection. In essence, it means that we want each person at our company to commit to always making progress; to be able to accept the absence of perfection. We believe this mentality enables us to make decisions much faster, especially within the confines of a highly regulated industry.
Personally, when it comes to using “Progress, Not Perfection” in my daily values, I find an absence of fear enables asking out of the box questions and making suggestions without a formal approach. Additionally, now that living this value has become a cultural cornerstone at Quontic, I know that no one will raise an eyebrow at me for suggesting off-the-wall ideas; that we actually reward those who suggest big ideas. So, I’m not scared to bring my thoughts to the table. If you can eliminate the fear of failing, you provide this liberating foundation for your employees and your teammates to move forward without a feeling of retaliation or embarrassment. That absence of fear garners innovation.
Take Bitcoin Rewards Checking, for example. How do you think the idea of creating a Bitcoin rewards program struck most in the banking industry two years ago? At the time, there wasn’t enough information out there about crypto for our regulators to approve the idea. It was a huge, out-there idea. But, at Quontic, because our team implemented the mindset of Progress Not Perfection, we worked with them in concert. Now, as a result, our bank was the first FDIC-insured financial institution in the U.S. to go live with a Bitcoin rewards debit card.
Of course, for me, there wasn’t one simple solution to becoming a better, more confident innovator. There have been hurdles besides fear that I’ve had to overcome, and am still grappling with. One of those is Imposter Syndrome, which according to the APA, “occurs among high achievers [who] are unable to internalize and accept their success. They often attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and fear that others will eventually unmask them as a fraud.” And the weight of Imposter Syndrome can be heavy.
I know that some of you reading this (especially other women in male-dominated industries or members of marginalized communities) may be able to relate! Imposter Syndrome even took over my brain when Steve Schnall, Quontic’s CEO and founder, offered me the role of Chief Empowerment Officer—a role created completely and uniquely for me. I doubted my ability to rise to the occasion. Can you imagine?!
While Imposter Syndrome is definitely something that I still need to banish for myself, through the course of my experience in the industry, I’ve developed a tactic to push against it. I keep what I like to call a “confidence journal.” Anytime I suggest an idea, and maybe it gets shot down or we go a different way, I write down my idea with the date I offered it.
Here’s a simple example I like to give: I was on a team once that was deciding whether to order more green paper or pink paper at the end of the year. The team says they’ll order 100 reams of green, but I chimed in with the data; that our purchase ordering history actually indicates that every December we’re short on pink paper. The team still decided to move forward with ordering the green paper. But when January came and we were woefully out of pink paper, I went back to my confidence journal. And it offers me a simple reminder, “Casey, you were right. Keep speaking up and speak louder next time.”
My confidence journal is just for me. It’s a way of self-validation, to look back at data and understand that my choices are valid, my ideas are good, and my conclusions are valuable.
Sometimes when you’re the only person in the room with a different idea, it can be scary to voice it. You might question yourself and think that other people know better. But I’ve learned that’s not necessarily true. By building our confidence and ditching the fear, we can innovate.