The story started
Here I am writing about my overall experience at Pearl Lemon so far.
It’s the beginning of November 2020 and I’ve just marked my 4th month at Pearl Lemon. Yes, it’s only been four months, but I can’t believe how much has happened in this short time.
For those who don’t know me, this is not the first time I’ve worked for Pearl Lemon. I first joined Pearl Lemon in the summer of 2018 when the company and things were completely different. Pearl Lemon had existed for two years, there was no partnership programme in sight but despite this, I had the opportunity to learn and help here and there.
At the time, I had no experience that could prepare me for what working for Deepak would entail. I came from a totally different reality. The few previous working experiences I had reflected a quite old and traditional organisation and environment. I spent my childhood in a small town where things were quite static and career opportunities weren’t many. I used my laptop almost only for university and had no idea I could do way more things with it. Entering Deepak’s world resulted in discovering something new, fast, inspiring, and innovative. It reminded me of the international and dynamic environment I loved finding whenever I was abroad for study or work.
As there was no process in place, I started by learning how Deepak worked every day with the numerous apps, plugins, and Chrome extensions that he had me install on my laptop. That was life changing and soon I became more efficient and productive with tools I had no idea existed.
That summer I went to London for a month and used to meet Deepak at Costa Coffee at 8.06am – I dared to arrive 6 minutes late a few times, causing Deepak to tell me off and joke about it for the whole month! LOL Here you can see the difference in time management between Italians and the English!
At first, I used to shadow Deepak while he was working. I would sit in front of him and watch videos he uploaded on YouTube or observe him during client meetings and other work. Little by little, he gave me tasks to work on.
My main focus was on growing Deepak’s personal brand. He gave speeches about entrepreneurship, how to bootstrap any B2B business to 25k a month, how he quit his job, changed his life and built a £10k-per-month company, and more. I organised things such as booking the venue, ordering branded banners and objects to decorate the place, creating slide presentations, inviting people, interviewing attendees, sending out feedback forms and so on.
Here are some pictures of the events when Deepak gave the speech and I interviewed attendees.
The event on Saturday 21st July 2018
At the pub after the event
During that period, my help wasn’t required consistently, so Deepak involved me when he needed me.
Besides event management, I also did:
After that month in London, I continued to work for Pearl Lemon from my home back in Italy. In October 2018, I started my third and last year at university, which was expected to be the hardest. Deepak and I had agreed on a set amount of working hours per week, but soon I realised I couldn’t focus on both work and all other things happening in my life at the moment. That’s why I decided to put Pearl Lemon on hold for a while.
Pearl Lemon and I went our separate ways. Little did I know it would only be for two years.
It was June 2020. I had been at home with my family in Italy for almost a year. In March, I finished my previous work contract as I was supposed to move abroad immediately after. However, that didn’t happen because Italy went into lockdown due to Covid-19 causing me to reinvent my whole life. During lockdown, I took a few online classes on several topics. As soon as things started to get slightly better, I applied for jobs again. I wasn’t having any luck until I decided to ask Deepak if he had any job opportunities for me. I wanted to gain experience working in Human Resources to see if it could be a potential long term career for me. It turned out Pearl Lemon needed help in exactly that area.
On 22nd June, I joined Pearl Lemon again and was introduced to the Partnership Programme, which was huge news for me. This time things were way more structured and developed. There was a flexible system that defined workers’ time and commitment and partners had specific roles with lots of tasks. For instance, there were two designers regularly working on optimising and building content for our websites, two lead generation specialists looking for potential clients and two marketing executives working on expanding Pearl Lemon’s brand and services. The company had also expanded significantly and now had many branches I barely knew about.
I immediately met Lydia, Head of Internal Growth, who shared her work with me since she had been working on HR tasks until then. I was also added to the main WhatsApp group chat with other partners where we updated each other on a daily basis. It was so cool being part of a real team! Two years before, it was only me reporting to Deepak separately and every now and then I communicated with other people if necessary for specific tasks.
All seemed great and this time I knew what to expect working for Pearl Lemon and Deepak- a fast-paced environment where you are pushed to do more, even if it’s your first time doing it because nothing is impossible. I knew I was going to learn fast and a lot: that’s what I wanted! After months spent on online courses, I needed to get my hands dirty again, and there’s no better place than Pearl Lemon for this.
Working remotely didn’t scare me since I was already used to that approach. From a professional perspective, I worked remotely the first time with Pearl Lemon, as well as with other companies as a freelance translator. From a personal perspective, I lived abroad in 3 different countries and I am always in touch with my family and international friends. I was grateful to be given the opportunity to stay at home with my family and still work with a British company whose workers are based everywhere in the world. This allows us to have flexibility both in terms of place and time: we are free to decide where and when to work. At any time, you’ll find someone in the team awake and working like you!
We love recording screens with loom.com
Despite the nice premise I have just detailed, I can’t hide the fact that during the first month back with Pearl Lemon, I had a hard time sleeping at night. I couldn’t stop thinking about work, which was possibly caused by the fact that:
It took me a while before I found the right work-life balance. Having the freedom to decide when to work is:
I’ve found out I was not the only person struggling with this and the solution that worked for me was forcing myself to be so busy during my free time that I couldn’t think about work too. This slowly became a natural habit: I found a way to become more productive because I also took the time to recharge and then go back to work with a fresh mind.
Besides this, among the typical challenges of working in a startup is that you have to
…all at the same time!
It feels overwhelming, especially at the beginning of an experience when everything is new and you have no idea of where to find help.
How did I get out of this? By trying, trying again, making mistakes, and learning in the field. Deepak is the perfect representation of this concept. He’s always willing to get involved and learn from stressful times – you can tell he loves challenges!
Luckily Pearl Lemon grows so fast and so do its people. When I started in June we were less than 10 partners while in October we nearly reached 30 people. Now, you can be sure there will always be someone to help you, whether it is explaining a new task or teaching you a shortcut for a complex process. We have also developed tons of training videos and courses for each of the different positions.
I am proud to say I am part of a team of enthusiastic, collaborative, friendly, and inspiring people. We could really see the growth over time, especially during our Friday weekly meetings when we spend one hour all together. We use that time to get to know each other, learn what everyone has worked on during the week, and discover what has happened overall in the company.
Even if we’re all based in different parts of the world and timezones, we make sure we’re always in contact with each other. That happens mostly via Whatsapp messages and emails but also with short screen recordings while explaining and showing a task or a problem. If needed, we also organise video calls. Working remotely doesn’t mean you feel lonely or abandoned!
One of our Friday Weekly Meetings on Whereby
At Pearl Lemon, things evolve quickly and frequently, so you need to be ready and adaptable to change as there is a constant push to improve and aim at the best!
The same happened with my role as well as other people’s. You may apply to a job position and then end up getting involved with something completely different!
I joined Pearl Lemon as the HR Success Manager. My everyday goal was to ensure that the overall team, as well as each member, progressed. The tasks I have been carrying out regularly are:
Performance Review Call
In addition, I’ve been working in recruitment, and I was happy to discover an innovative way of hiring new partners. Many applicants were impressed by the unique application process that we have. At Pearl Lemon, we value the work approach, someone’s spirit of initiative and willingness to learn more than the work experiences on their resume.
After a few weeks in the programme, Deepak introduced me to lead generation, giving more variety to my tasks. I had absolutely no idea what that entailed, but I was ready to find out more about it. In a nutshell, we use LinkedIn to find potential clients for our services before trying to get them on a call with our Sales team. I was working for Kemistri, our partner company providing traders with software technology to manage their investments.
At the time, only two people were working on lead generation, and the process and training that we had were a bit scattered and incomplete. Moreover, I was the first person assigned to the Italian market, which meant there were no track records I could use as a reference. It was one of the tough moments when things were so confusing I had no clue what was working and what wasn’t.
A lead generation specialist needs communication and sales skills to easily manage conversations with potential customers. Then, more details about the offer are given by our Sales team during a call. However, at times I found it a bit frustrating as I kept dealing with experienced traders who were often quite direct and rude.
The whole situation led to some communication problems with Deepak, and I didn’t feel suited for the kind of experience Pearl Lemon could give me. I had second thoughts about continuing after such a stressful first month.
It goes without saying that something happened to make me stay in the company. That was a call I had with Deepak where he suggested a compromise, and therefore a solution, to better communicate with each other. In addition, he took the time to optimise together the strategy I was using for lead generation. As a result, I became more comfortable in that position and enjoyed the task more.
Since then, things started to improve as I embraced the startup world more positively. When you are at the beginning of a business journey, you won’t know what works and what doesn’t. You may not always have the answer to everything, but at Pearl Lemon that’s okay as long as you can get to a solution. Problem solving is fun when you have tools at hands to simplify your life and experience in dealing with challenges. All of this comes with time, and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see what else I could do.
Clearout.io is one of the tools that saved my life when I started building cold email campaigns. All email addresses are filtered and you will end up with a list of only the verified accounts that are safe to reach out to.
It took me some time, but at last, I became more efficient, more productive, more relaxed and eager to try, see what happens and learn from there.
My knowledge and experience in LinkedIn Lead Generation learnt at Pearl Lemon allowed me to find a part-time job as a Lead Generation Consultant in another startup. I couldn’t be more excited to present my first offer to a client and work independently. So in October, I started a new journey to help the startup launch in Italy while still working for Pearl Lemon.
During these few months at Pearl Lemon, I got to see many things happening and starting from scratch. Like Plant Sumo, a plant-based food delivery service in London that Deepak and his business partner Wadah founded and launched in barely a month.
As the HR Manager, I got involved in different internal activities for the many branches related to the Pearl Lemon Group. In addition, I overviewed some client work which gave me insight on different challenges.
I have learned every single day, and even if things weren’t always perfect,
I made it through and I grew professionally.
Recently, Deepak had the idea of building a brand new project: Pearl Lemon Academy. By giving voice to Pearl Lemon’s ‘Learn By Doing’ approach, we would like to provide students with the opportunity to learn with us, maybe work with us and, if interested, even build their own business. It’s something that we’re trying to create from scratch, and Deepak wants me to lead it all. I am very enthusiastic to give this a try and to see what I can do by myself with Sam (the other founder) and Deepak’s guidance.
To conclude, I can say that despite everything, these were four fruitful months. The best parts were the variety of areas I have worked, the different strategies I have got to explore, and the opportunity to work both autonomously and with people.
Not only have I learnt about processes and tools, but I also changed the way I looked at things. Deepak has always been a great point of reference and inspiration when it comes to challenges and things that don’t go as planned. Moreover, he gave me continuous feedback and useful suggestions for improvement.
Pearl Lemon gives you the opportunity to do something and be someone even just for a day.
From casually working from Costa Coffee with Deepak to actively contributing to the creation of a new Pearl Lemon branch, I can’t wait to discover what’s next!