Leah Farmer

Personal perspectives on faith, literature, and life.

Lessons in Leaving: Always be yourself…

Note: As I’m leaving my role as VP of Merchant Product at Klarna, I wanted to jot down some lessons from my time at Klarna that are coming to me as I contemplate my 2+ years here. Enjoy!

Back when I was a good church girl, I remember a pastor that I admired saying something along the lines of “Stop comparing your sin and righteousness to everyone else. God is not looking for you to be the very best Moses. He’s looking for to you to be the best you.”

That has stuck with me over the years and in the last 18 months I have found myself saying something similar over and over. I think it is because as a site, Klarna Berlin struggled a bit in the early days with an identity crisis. And I think it is because I have struggled with my own version of an identity crisis along the way. Let me explain…

As a site, at various times it has felt like we were some sort of baby version of Klarna headquarters in Stockholm. But from the outset, I knew we’d never be a smaller version of hq. I knew who we were hiring and I knew what we were trying to do. We were taking the best of Stockholm…specifically the leadership principles and the goal of fast, autonomous teams…and planting it in Berlin. But we were also hiring people from all over the world and we were changing the landscape of diversity of thought at Klarna.

I found that I often had to say “Just be yourself” to my teams and my employees. We had to take self-organization to the extreme and it was key that we figure things out and have our own identity.

At the same time, I struggled personally to feel like I didn’t fit in with the rest of the senior leadership at Klarna. The rest are mostly Swedish. The rest are almost entirely male. The rest are predominantly engineers. And for the most part they are a pretty obedient and non-confrontational bunch.

None of those things describes me.

So for 2 years I regularly felt I was trying to be someone I am not…and that I was failing big time. But this is a failure I am so grateful for. The inability to be anyone but me…I am happy to fail at that every day. And if that makes me less “acceptable”, then so be it.

My advice…be beautifully and terribly yourself every single day. The good and the bad. Be singularly YOU. The world has enough people trying to be someone else or trying to fit in. What the world needs is your voice. Your strong, capable, curious, and questioning voice!

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