The goal of Hardly Hustle is to provide inspiration, drive and motivation in a 10 minute read or less. What you see is what you get. This is hot off the press without an editing team. Dan Gonzalez is up. And...
In case you missed his story in 2019, you may want to start here first.
What is your name & current role?
Dan Gonzalez, Co-Founder & CEO of District C
Explain to the audience what it is that you do, or if it failed, what you did do?
District C prepares the next generation of diverse talent for modern work. Specifically, we teach students how to work in teams to solve hard problems. Our flagship program, called Teamship, is a reimagined internship experience where teams of students solve real problems for real businesses.
Since you last shared on Hardly Hustle, what have you been up to?
District C has been focused on preparing for scale. The last time we chatted, I think we were feeling good about the product/service we'd built and the business model we'd tested. Since then, we have grown the team to 9 people, refined and formalized a lot of our internal philosophies and ways of working, and established important partnerships. Now we're trying to figure out how to accelerate.
Since your last story, any responses you’d tweak or add to?
The only thing would be a quick update on our impact numbers. We've now reached almost 4,000 students, trained almost 200 educators, and engaged about 300 businesses that offer real problems for student work.
What have you automated or thought about automating in your day to day to make life easier?
We've automated a lot of the data processing tasks associated with our program management work. We have a lot of registration and onboarding processes, and as you can imagine, there's a lot of generating lists and making new lists and then reorganizing lists, etc.
Zapier has saved us a lot of time and effort. On a more programmatic level, we've been working with a development team to create an experience where a real student can interact with an AI-generated student. This "practice" environment will help students develop many of the skills important for team-based problem solving, like how to ask good questions of others.
What hire has made the most impact for you?
Impossible to pick just one! What I would say is that taking the time to be really thoughtful and intentional about our hiring process (and what kind of person we're looking for) is something we can point to as an important investment of time and energy.
We've been able to build a really exceptional team of people with diverse talents and backgrounds, but even more important, they're all fun, humble, and positive people. Can't imagine doing this work without them.
Has your work-life balance gotten better or worse, and why?
I personally feel a bit out of balance if I'm away from work for too long, either mentally or physically. Being away makes me more anxious than I want to be. I work pretty normal hours, but I also think about work quite a bit outside of normal hours.
This hasn't changed much since the start, but what has changed is thinking not just about my own balance but also about what "balance" looks and feels like for members of our team. This has been a fun part of our growth -- thinking about productivity, flexibility, and balance in a fully remote work environment.
What’s one thing you’re bullish on or think is a good idea?
Remote work. The trend at the moment seems to be back to the office, but I love working remotely, and I love being on a team that works remotely for all the reasons you might expect (more flexibility, less time spent commuting, bigger talent pool to recruit from). I think the debate on remote versus in-person work focuses a bit too much on the mode and not enough on the culture.
If you can't trust someone to work remotely, you may not have the right person. And if you're struggling to feel connected in a remote environment, you probably haven't set up the right conditions. District C certainly hasn't figured it all out, and we're still a small team, but we are committed to being 100% remote as we continue to add team members.
What is one business tool or resource you can’t live without?
Notion! This has been a game-changer for us.
What is one "life hack" or one tool in your life, personal or professional, that has made a large impact?
# of Employees?
Any call to action?
If you are interested in District C, watch this 3-minute video (https://youtu.be/m6PFZ3cb9Js) and pass it along to someone you think would be inspired by it. Thanks for helping us spread the word!