Leadership is an important management function that helps drive an organization’s resources for enhanced efficiency. Effective leaders guide the organization to realize its goals and achieve them. There is no denying the fact that the role of a leader is what determines the fortune of an organization.
Sean Li has managed to lead the company, CaterCow with a unique mindset and has raised the bar of leadership and management. He is the co-founder and CEO and considers himself to be a very ‘operational leader.’ He says, “I am very much involved in the day-to-day weeds. I know the vast of our customers and caterers, I help track down late orders with my team, I’m the account manager for many of our customers, I onboard and setup menus for our restaurant partners, I personally take many of the photos on the CaterCow website, I help QA and troubleshoot the website with our engineers when code pushes are made, and I suggest new website features, etc.”
The fact that he is way more hands-on than a traditional tech CEO concerned him initially, but Sean says he has made peace with it. He believes that his constant presence on the ground level helps him recognize the flaws or glitches and come up with possible solutions faster.
“I work way harder than anyone else, and cover a lot of surface area and because of that, I see every problem as I’m working in the weeds! Typically, people might just band-aid it through and not be aware of what cross-team resources (e.g., engineering) are at their disposal. Most aren’t incentivized to take a step back and think through a larger solution – but because I am involved with every tiny thing at the company, I can come up with holistic solutions.
Sam Altman has said that leaders need to tackle exponential, not linear, problems. I’ve come to peace that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself for being in the weeds doing linear things because a lot of things that seem linear at the surface might unsurface the root of game-changing product ideas that have exponential growth potential and can also be multiplicative once you apply the lessons and have your entire team implementing new solutions together.”
CaterCow is a website that provides catering services. It is a leading online platform connecting local restaurants to offices, schools, and universities for catering in New York, San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin, Washington DC, and Dallas. Traditionally, office managers, line producers, and event planners would have to call up each restaurant and follow a tedious procedure: requesting a quote, seeing if they deliver, being told to call back when a restaurant manager is available, paying over the phone. CaterCow makes this cumbersome procedure a lot simpler.
Currently working with a small team, Sean has managed to bounce back after the nasty pandemic. Under his leadership, the company tried to make the most of the pandemic by sending donated meals through the initiative CaterCow Cares to frontline workers through fundraisers.
As noble as the thought was, Sean Li and the team at CaterCow continue to work and adjust to the ever-changing environment post covid. But the good thing is that they have not forgotten the moral responsibility of returning to the community through their services.