The Net Positive Growth Story of Dan Siepen explores how determination and networking can build accelerated growth in the startup world.
Net Positive Growth, Gonçalo Henriques
The Net Positive series expands to tell the story of a growth leader, Gonçalo Henriques, his growth journey, both ups and downs.
TLDR: The Net Positive growth journey of Gonçalo’s career, how he’s changed paths and worked towards improvement, his learnings and his goals for the future
The purpose of this series is to identify key moments of growth for our guests and in speaking to Gonçalo Henriques, he highlighted that when he was successful in getting a job at his dream company, that was a real moment of growth for his life, especially after 7 failed previous applications.
Gonçalo started his career as a programmer and developer and continued in that industry for 15 years. His history working within the gaming world meant I personally had a soft spot for him. He has a strong ability to grow a community, as seen by his great Twitter following. His switch from engineering to product took place at age 37 and took about a year to become a product owner.
“When you change careers you question yourself, am I doing this right? I’m 37, am I crazy? Is this a middle-aged crisis?”
Gonçalo’s Net Positive Growth
Gonçalo is a testament to the adage that ‘hard work pays off’. This is best seen at his side hustle startup, NoCodery. The hustling and the success of his product management and product growth placed him in front of the right people. Gonçalo’s hard work was recognised. This was the trigger for them seeing him in a new light, leading to them hiring him.
The new role was a catalyst for Gonçalo, as it allowed him to focus on product-led growth, something he had been experimenting with and developing at NoCodery. Given that NoCodery was his side hustle, he was unable to give his full attention to the process. When given the opportunity to devote his complete time to the concept, Gonçalo realised that this was his calling. It was a win-win for all parties involved. He went deep into it and loved it. Gonçalo’s learnings grew and grew.
“That was the confirmation, but when you get into that, it’s a milestone, it confirmed everything, this is it!”
Behaviour & Mindset
Throughout his life and career, Gonçalo has always tried to maintain a strong sense of self-awareness. To be mindful of his actions, constantly re-evaluating work and decisions. Ensuring that he is pushing to the right space.
“Could I try something else? Am I being stubborn?”
Gonçalo’s desire to operate with a clear mind has guided him well, especially when finding those ‘ah ha’ or ‘eureka’ moments.
Gonçalo learned a lot from his founder experience, especially about maintaining a balance. He left behind the 24/7 grind lifestyle because it was a one-way ticket to a breakdown. He had to acknowledge there were only 24 hours in a day. A concept some founders struggle with.
His second start-up, Mobigeek Studios, saw him in his lowest moment, having no money and feeling like a failure. Within Portugal, the culture of the start-up community has a tendency to brand someone a failure after their first real mistake. Gonçalo wasn’t able to reach out to his start-up community because they would often respond, you need to hustle harder. They were offering him his problem back at him, rather than a solution.
”If you need help its because you don’t understand what’s happening by yourself, so self-help doesn’t help at all”
“It was family, close family, my girlfriend, supporting me there, [they said] you’re a human, that’s totally fine”
Having his close family network presence enabled him to understand that there was a problem.
Gonçalo relied on his family during that period of his life. Through open and honest communication he was better able to continue. They provided him the necessary space and sounding board for him to do what he does best, reflect, analyse and move forward. The start-up community didn’t offer him much to help him through the tough time.
So what did Gonçalo learn?
- Avoid the ‘hustle at all costs’ mindset.
- Maintain a great relationship with family, especially ensuring quality time.
- Allocate time for yourself, to avoid burnout, properly pacing yourself
- Mindset shift, focusing on the good and learning from the bad. No beating yourself up.
- Try to recognise patterns, and keep experimenting.
- Proper preparation, keep a to do list for what’s next. It’ll calm the mind to keep focus and direction. Focus on the next thing that can deliver value.
- Constantly try new stuff, but some regular practices include meditation and napping.
- Return to a passion, for Gonçalo, playing a video game that he’s never played before.
What does the future look like for Gonçalo? Firstly, there are website projects, getting the basis of coding right to create something new. He has the plans and flywheels in place, but, like any side hustle, it is moving a little slower.
When it comes to his main career, he wants to dive deeper into product-led growth. He found that this particular path really sparks a great amount of joy for him, a la Marie Kondo. Given that he has always been one for mindfulness and working from one task to another, long-term goals have never been his style. Although he hopes to have achieved one thing by 2025. His goal? To be VP of product-led growth of a company.
Gonçalo is someone committed to experimentation and growth, he pushes himself when necessary and has learned valuable lessons along the way, focusing on the wins, rather than beating himself up about the losses. It was a pleasure to interview him, and I believe his growth story offers plenty, especially for founders and those contemplating a change of industry.
To read more about Net Positive Growth, head to the Upflowy blog.