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Message from Tony Lewis, CEO of Aumni: 2022 is the Year of the Cognitive Athlete

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Back in December of 2020, I looked back at the prior year and was so proud of all the amazing things that our team at Aumni accomplished.  Now we stand at the end of 2021 and reflect once more. I’m happy to say we had an even bigger year than the one before: we tripled our revenue and team size, closed a hugely successful Series B round led by JP Morgan with participation from firms including Pelion Ventures, strengthened our partnership with the NVCA, and rolled out several technological firsts in venture capital analytics.  These are all tremendous accomplishments, and I’m confident we’ll post similar growth figures for the year ahead, but beyond the numbers, there is something else I am much more excited about for 2022. 

We’re in the midst of a “Great Resignation.”  The pandemic forced employers to think of a new way of working, which allowed employees to redefine how they wanted to spend their time.  The effect was forced workplace experimentation, and what we’re seeing is that people generally value their happiness more than just cash compensation.  You can’t pay people enough money to do something they don’t enjoy doing -- at least, not for very long.  

This prioritization of happiness runs counter to how many organizations had historically operated when the retention strategy offered the minimum compensation to keep a team member over a specific tenure based on operating targets.  Gone are the days when you could simply offer an employee more money to prevent them from leaving.  It’s a candidate’s market, there are numerous choices out there, and highly capitalized companies will always beat you when it comes to a salary offer.

What I’ve come to believe is that smaller, faster, venture-backed startups like Aumni actually have a leg up on those job market competitors.  Startups have embraced hybrid workplace models and flexible schedules; we’re tech-forward and innovative. Attracting top talent is easier for startups because it’s more exciting to get on an early-stage team where you can make an impact, so long as you have the secret ingredient: a healthy culture.

Earlier this year, I was at a conference where the Head of Research at Whoop presented the importance of restorative sleep and performance at work.  Whoop partnered with McKinsey’s Executive Leadership Program in Australia and found a direct correlation between sleep quality and cognitive ability.  For every 45 minutes of sleep deficit, a person suffers a 10% reduction in overall mental capacity.  Improve your sleep, and you’ll improve your cognitive performance, and yet there’s a counter-culture you see in so many organizations that encourages employees to work longer hours and to sacrifice sleep to hit deadlines.

So how does Aumni outperform last year’s accomplishments?  That’s what I’m most excited about -- we’re going to invest in our team’s happiness and well-being.  We’re investing in our team’s well-being by adding dedicated mental health and wellness benefits, encouraging the use of our unlimited time-off policy, and giving an annual “Air Mask” bonus that will help employees enjoy their passions outside of work.  We’ve rolled out expanded medical coverage at reduced premiums and are providing access to nutrition and fitness coaching resources, as well as guided meditation, financial planning, and life coaching.

Most importantly, we’re committed to developing our team into cognitive athletes by throwing our company support behind a collection of goals, sentiments, and behavioral motions that make a person the best performing version of themself.  

We’re going to sleep well, eat well, exercise well -- be well.  Because when we’re healthy, when we’re truly in athletic form when it comes to our mental well-being, we’ll win at whatever we put our minds to.  Employers need to change the way they think about treating and compensating their employees, and I intend for Aumni to lead the pack toward a better way to attract, retain, and build winning teams.  

I had a professor in college who used to end his inspirational letters with a short phrase.  It felt like an old Viking war call, his way of saying that we were headed for greatness, charging toward the universe, confident in victory.  Now more than ever before, Aumni is headed for great things, and so I’ll leave you with his final word.


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