Meet the Marmots - Tobias

This is a series of posts where each of our hardworking marmots* has a chance to talk about themselves - what they get up to at Monax and in their wider habitats - so you can understand a bit more about the folks who bring the Monax vision to life.

Monax is bursting at the seams with talent from both tech, legal and business. Our team is split between offices in Edinburgh, London and New York - with a few remote marmots too.

We’ve been extra busy over the past few months in the run up to the launch of the Monax Platform so this is the first team blog in a while!

We’re a diverse bunch of characters, and work hard to bring about the future of legal tech (and we have a lot of fun doing so!). Each post in this blog series will focus on an individual, so you can understand a bit more about the team behind the tech! Next up is one of our Edinburgh mamrots, Tobias Barnes Hofmeister (marketing analyst) from Team Success. This dude is the analytics king, and always brings a smile and a sharp brain to the office each day.

Hey Tobias, can you introduce yourself in a sentence?

Farm boy, turned city dweller, father, adventurer and bicycle enthusiast with a fondness for German electro, on the quest towards realising my authentic potential.

How did you cross paths with Monax?

I came across Monax on a job site in February 2018. At the time I had little understanding of blockchain technology and associated it primarily with cryptocurrency (which I’m sceptical of). The thing that interested me was an opportunity to explore business analytics.

What’s your background?

My background is fairly broad. As a kid I enjoyed art, building things, cycling and the sciences. In university I found it challenging to decide between design, social sciences and engineering, ultimately choosing engineering, trusting in the promise to get a well-paying job in some German engineering company.

Life has had a different plan, taking me around the world to Scandinavia where I started a masters in sustainable energy and ended with a thesis on how to leverage design and technology to make cycle-friendly cities. As a stepping stone to start a life in Edinburgh I then did a year in marketing for an organisation supporting entrepreneurs. The major learning in that year was that I wanted to be in the arena of the entrepreneurial world instead of just being a spectator.

What does your work at Monax involve?

It’s been a rather dynamic journey, a continuous evolution, which is really exciting. I like thinking through our customer experience and being invested in the continuous evolution of our product. For me the work I’m doing is really about finding the areas where the work we do adds genuine value to humanity, and our users in particular.

In practical terms this involves listening to and speaking with our users, synthesizing information of how to evolve our product to meet or exceed our users needs, evolving and communicating our value proposition, making illustrations, evaluating data, thinking about processes and strategies.

The other thing I’m growing increasingly aware of is my responsibility in shaping the culture that I want to work in. I think this is a really beautiful aspect of being part of a startup that all of us have the opportunity and responsibility to contribute to building an organisation we feel safe in and cared for while meeting business objectives and having difficult conversations. For me these cultural aspects of who we are as a company and how we relate to each other are really the foundation for everything we’re doing. It’s the little micro-actions that make all the difference in this realm.

If you had to choose one aspect of our culture that best defines you, which one would it be and why?

I think my absolute favourite is playing the infinite game. The way how Simon Sinek described this paradigm shift resonates a lot with my personal development. I like the idea to reframe competitors into rivals and remaining rooted in one’s own values and beliefs. For me there’s a profound change from scarcity to abundance in this thinking. When I hear competitors I associate it with the need to be better for the sake of securing scarce resources, in some way driven by external factors beyond my realm of influence. On the contrary, when I re-frame to seeing rivals it actually empowers me to shine light upon my weaknesses and areas that I can better myself in. In this frame of mind I’m not driven by the fear of not getting my needs met, but rather by the genuine desire to live a life in accordance to the most authentic and highest of my ability. That’s empowering, being a better version of myself today than I was yesterday.

What challenges does your role bring and how do you meet them?

I think the main challenge I’m up against are my own past experiences. Venturing into the unknown with a technology that is still early in its development and which is unproven in its benefit to society brings immense uncertainty and failure big and small is omnipresent. For my role in particular I feel almost daily at the intersection of creativity and fear of failure. Each time I consciously have to choose courage to bring forth my ideas and share them with my team and the world. I begin to see similarities between creativity and parenting. Ultimately these ideas are not mine to own. I’m only the one through whom they emerge to take a life of their own. The only thing I can really do is nurture them. I have begun to see working at Monax essentially as a spiritual practice. It allows me to confront myself and transcend who I was. It’s pretty cool.

Tell us a quirky fact about yourself…

Driving combined harvesters at the age of 7.

What tunes are you listening to today (if any)?

Who do you draw inspiration from at present?

  • David Kelley - ideas on creative confidence and design thinking to navigate the uncertainties of increasingly complex problems.

  • Pascal Finette - thoughts on leadership in exponential times.

  • Brené Brown - courage to show up wholeheartedly and rumble with vulnerability at work to bring forth my authentic potential and take my responsibility in building the organisation I want to work in.

  • Sam Ovens - ruthless pursuit of focus, discipline and first principles.

Thank you so much Tobias!

Thanks - my pleasure!

*The word ‘Monax’ comprises part of the binomial name for a groundhog (marmota monax) and our company mascot is a rock n’ roll marmot called Doug. Folks who work for Monax traditionally refer to themselves as marmots, and no prizes for guessing how we came up with the name Hyperledger Burrow! Read more about our marmoty history here.

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