Katherine Barrios in Xeneta: 10 Tips for a Fruitful Career & State of Mind Anywhere

Article by Katherine Barrios, CMO in the tech-startup Xeneta, the leading ocean freight price benchmarking and market intelligence platform 

CMO Katherine Barrios in Xeneta gives you 10 tips for new fresh blood and even more mature blood entering the startup world or any work world, to help you thrive, grow and focus on what really matters.  

I have collected these throughout the years from personal experience and from mentors whose advice I have embraced. #4 in particular.   Today, at Xeneta, I try to follow these words of wisdom, use them as a base for hiring new talent and set them as the foundation for the teams I work with.

#1 You’re not superhuman. So stop trying to be one. 

There is a common misconception that we all have that we are, well, the best. Once we finally realize that we are not the awesomest, life begins to be a bit better. Imagine the pressure of always thinking that we are indispensable in the workplace, or in anything, for that matter. I get a hernia just thinking of it.  We can’t do everything. «I am a multi-tasker.» No, you are not. When I hear that in an interview or I read that in a CV, I must admit that it goes in the caca pile.

It’s ok to ask for help. Actually, you exude intelligence if you ask for help.  If we were supposed to be super humans, we would all have our own superhero show on Netflix; and to be honest there are enough of those already.   

It’s about knowing what you are good at and knowing what you suck at. It’s completely ok to suck at some things or most things. There’s most likely one thing you are really good at. Work with that. Delivery, efficiency and timeliness is what matters.

#2 The power of No

I can’t repeat this enough. As a manager, it’s my job to prioritize for the team. That is one of my most important tasks. However, you must have an innate gravitation towards knowing when you are overextended and be able to pump the breaks yourself.  If you really don’t have time, can’t fit it in unless you don’t sleep, then say «no». It doesn’t matter who is asking. If one thing is added to the to-do list that means another thing falls down. If you don’t know what to do first and what not to do or can’t handle the load, say «no» or ask your manager to help with prioritization. See #1.

#3 It’s good enough

Sometimes or most of the times, your project or whatever you are working on is «good enough». There is no such thing as perfect. Delivery is more important as well as meeting deadlines. Now, there is a fine line between «good enough» and pure crap. So, make sure you have a solid definition for what «good enough» means.

#4 Don’t give a f**ck

It’s good to care, but don’t overdue the caring part to the point where it does not let you move forward or take a chance on a new idea or approach. It doesn’t matter what the industry thinks and even your manager, if you feel that it is the right approach. As long as you can back it up, don’t give a f**ck and just do it. You may be beat yourself up later for not going out on a limb. 

Sometimes you just have to not give a f**ck in general about what your peers thinkl. If you have something challenging, controversial to say and you are passionate about it, don’t give a f**ck and just say it. Caca may hit the fan later, or it may not. Usually, it won’t.

#5 Less is better

Look at #3. I had a boss in my early career who told me «Kathy, the forest not the trees.» I say that to my team very frequently now. I have to tell myself that still all the time as I suffer from details overdose.

We sometimes want to pile in a bunch of information about a new project or plan before the project is even accepted. Remember you need to always sell an idea or a story first. The “more the better” is not the way, in this case.  If you flood your idea plan/presentation with too much information, it may:
1.Confuse the audience 2. open your plan up to holes where you haven’t devised the answers to the “what if” questions yet (this will piss you off) 3. Cause you to lose time unnecessarily and lead you to be inefficient. 

#6 A sense of urgency

The world moves fast so you better have some pep in your step and be a go-getter.  If you want it, go and get it. No one is going to get it for you. Things don’t wait. For example, if you are waiting to hear back from someone and it is holding your work back, call them, don’t email and wait for them to get back to you. Don’t be afraid of the phone or people. You need something now, you get it now. Use anyone and everything in your power to get what you need to get your work done. Again, the world doesn’t wait.

#7 Love for Healthy Discussions

It’s important to like to discuss and be open to colleagues challenging you and your ideas. At the same time, you should challenge your colleagues and their plans as well. See #4. Being complacent is not a positive attribute. However, remember to accept and realize when you are wrong and learn to pick the battles.

#8 Focus on the important things not titles

I know it is easy to get wrapped up in position titles. It seems nowadays everyone is a director of this, a chief of that a master of everything and nothing. Those new to the work world easily focus on this. You really shouldn’t. Titles are always thrown around. What you should really care about is your expertise and if you are seen as an expert in the organization. That is what you should strive for and what is important. Focus on being good at what you do. The rest will come. Everyone has to pay their dues. Ladder climbers are easily spotted.

 #9 Give credit where credit is due

This one is a pet peeve of mine. No matter what and under no circumstances should you ever take credit for an idea, project or anything that you did not do.  Not only is this poor form, it clearly shows your character is questionable and cannot be trusted. If you suffer from this, get rid of it immediately.

#10 Work hard and smart. No one deserves anything no matter your age, color or gender.

This one is easy, but surprisingly, we all forget. Everyone is dispensable and therefore we don’t deserve anything just because. Make sure you are an expert, know your discipline, work at it and then things start to happen. Never expect to get a job, a promotion or any opportunity simply because you tick off one of the boxes.

I am not at all immune to any of the items above. It’s a struggle for me and many; exude confidence, but not be a douche.  It all comes with some years and a fundamental programming of the brain to trust yourself and basically, not give a f**ck about what people think. Speak the mind. Call it like you see it. Dare to be loud, but not overly obnoxious.  Be humble, but not a push over. Always open up your mind to learn. Continuous learning and a curiosity for new things is golden. Lastly and most importantly, be a good and kind human being. The sooner you can program the brain, the more you will grow and be happy, which will help you focus on what really matters.


Gobi-gründer Kristoffer Lande la data-studiene på is for å dra til Silicon Valley, for å bygge sosiale medier-startup.

I denne podcasten forteller han hvordan han jobbet for å bygge nettverk «over there», og hvorfor de likevel flyttet hjem til Oslo.

Han forteller også hvordan det gikk til da Gobi fikk milliardarving Gustav Witzøe og skistjerna Petter Northug inn som investorer.

Vi får også høre hvordan det er å havne midt i en debatt om arbeidsliv og gründere, mellom Erna Solberg og Jonas Gahr Støre. Dessuten om satsingen i Asia. Og selvfølgelig om sprettballstartupen til Lande fra ungdomsskolen, og bompengene ut til hagen da han var enda litt mindre enn det. Og mye mer.

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