A Call to Lead
A Call to Lead
Jennifer Morgan
Jen Rubio
28 minutes Posted May 27, 2019 at 10:00 am.
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Today on A Call to Lead, I talk with Jen Rubio, the inspiring co-founder, president, and chief brand officer of Away. Jen co-founded Away on the notion that luggage—holding many of life's most important things when we travel—had become commoditized. Away injects style and community into travel. Jen and I talked about building great brands and thriving cultures, and about leveraging mistakes to learn and grow. Here are 5 Points that my team and I found particularly useful as we all work to build our own businesses:

  1. Having worked at Warby Parker earlier in her career, Jen knew that core values are key to building successful startups. She and her colleagues crafted Away's core values bottom-up: "We waited til we had maybe 30 or 40 employees. We were on a fun team trip in Nicaragua, and we split up into groups and asked people to describe what they thought our core values were. That set the stage. Our core values include being thoughtful, being iterative, being customer-obsessed, being empowered, being accessible in terms of having all the context that you need."
  2. Now that Away has nearly 300 employees, Jen and her senior team constantly reevaluate: "Core values are very precious and they should guide what you do. But it's important to take a step back and say 'hey, the company's growing really quickly, do these still ring true? If they don't, what are the things we can be doing to make it feel true? And if we don't want to do any of those things, should this still exist as one of our values?'"
  3. Jen and I believe in creating workplaces where it's okay to fail and make mistakes. Jen tells her team: "If you don't do it because you're scared, you're for sure not going to get it."
  4. And learn from each other's mistakes: "We encourage everyone to publicly share what they've learned from mistakes or failures. And we're constantly iterating. So we say, 'If you aren't making any mistakes, then you're not thinking big enough or moving fast enough."
  5. Jen smartly notes that brand-building happens from the customer's perspective: "When you're building a brand, it's so easy for people to be like: 'This is our brand book, this is who we are, this is what we're doing.' But nobody really cares what a brand says about itself."


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