The Commons Digest (11/30/2022)

The COmmons Insider Newsletter

This week's discussion...

What's the difference between BizOps and Chief of Staff roles?

Learning at The Commons

New member enrollments are currently closed, but our waitlist is open! Join to get front-line access

If someone forwarded this to you, subscribe here.

Your Weekly Level Up

🔥 Hot topic: Getting started with Tableau

✏️ Career Resource: Job Search Advice from The Community

✅ Community Reccos: Outsourcing Finance & Accounting Processes

💭 Thought Starter: Can Spotify Wrapped Work at Other Companies?!

💡 Brain Teaser: 🐻

🚀 Community Share: Hi Toronto!

What's the difference between BizOps and Chief of Staff roles?

Generalists can be a tech company’s secret weapon. Their diverse skill sets, ability to collaborate cross-functionally, and knack for seeing the bigger picture make them indispensable for any business looking to establish itself in the market and scale.

However, that adaptability can make it hard to know exactly where a generalist can make the biggest impact. There are a variety of factors to consider: skills, types of projects they’ll be working on, desired career path, seniority, etc.

Two roles that are typically a good fit for generalists are BizOps and Chief of Staff. Both are generalist roles with a lot of overlap but also some key differences.

Let’s break them down 👇

An overview of Chief of Staff and BizOps roles at startups

Chief of Staff
Chief of Staff roles are becoming more common in startups and tech companies.

As with any role in tech, the job and responsibilities can vary. But typically, the Chief of Staff is responsible for managing strategic initiatives of the organization and ensuring that the entire company is working at its best. They generally hone in on a few strategic initiatives that are of special importance to a business.

This can include anything from developing and implementing strategic plans, standing up a new department, creating budgets, helping fundraise, preparing for board meetings, and developing company policies. The Chief of Staff usually reports directly to the CEO or Founder. They’re typically 4-6+ years into their career and generally stay in the role for ~18 months before moving into another function within the company.

Business Operations or Strategy & Operations roles are extremely common at tech companies. The BizOps department can be as small as a one-person team or be made up of several team members, or several teams.

The goal of business operations is to improve the business’ results by making operational improvements that will increase revenue and efficiency. Creating efficient and streamlined business processes is often crucial for startups, as it can help them to save time and prepare for growth.

‍BizOps folks can often find themselves working on anything from sales, operations management, and data analysis. The scope can vary widely depending on the type of business, company goals, and company stage.

Read the full article for an overview of the similarities and differences, overviews of team structure, career paths and the types of projects one might tackle in each role.

Chief of Staff or BizOps?
Despite being seemingly similar, CoS and BizOps roles are completely different and should be treated as such. But both play a vital role in helping a startup or scale-up run smoothly and efficiently.

Whether you’re considering a career in business operations or hope to land a role as Chief of Staff, consider applying to The Commons Strategy & Operations Sprint. You’ll build tactical skills like SQL, data analysis, data visualization, ambiguous problem solving that will enable you to deliver more impact in either role.

Join the Waitlist

What’s happening at The Commons

Upcoming events

No-Code/Low-Code Showcase

Being able to improve and automate processes is a true super power for any operator! Join mentor Sarah Zarling (Senior Product Operations Manager, Color) for this session focused on expanding your No-Code/Low-Code toolkit, and how to apply these solutions to your day-to-day.

November 30, 8PM ET | Virtual
Community only
Register here

Weathering Tough Times & Job Search Chat

Tackling a job search or dealing with change at work isn't easy. Tack on the recent headlines and it feels even heavier. That's why we're bringing together three expert community voices. Join mentors Shane P. (Head of Ops @ KOHO), Rohan S. (Strategic Ops Manager @ Super) and Saumil S. (Growth & Chief of Staff at SafeGraph) for a chat on weathering tough times at work and in the job search.

December 1, 7PM ET | Virtual
Community only
Register here

The Teams in Tech Summit

Join us for a super practical way to gain exposure to the tech industry and build skills to help you nail an interview and deliver impact quickly on the job. More info below - workshops include a Teams in Tech Panel, Data Viz Workshop, and Tackling a Case Interview.

December 3+4, ~11AM-3PM ET
All are welcome!
Non-community members register here
Community members register here

12 Days of Giveaways

We'll be running 12 Days of Giveaways in collaboration with some of our awesome partners. Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn for a chance to participate! The fun kicks off next week.

December 5
All are welcome to participate
Follow us on LinkedIn!

Past events

ICYMI we recently hosted these events. Members, you can find relevant recordings on our platform.

  • IRL Hangs: Community members from San Francisco, Toronto, London, Montreal, NYC, Calgary, Chicago and Vancouver met up over beers, sushi and good times.
  • Mentor Office Hours, November | Two of our incredible mentors, Alex (GM at Instawork) and Chris (Revenue Advisor and Fractional CRO), hosted Office Hours covering everything from breaking into tech, to perfecting your GTM strategy.

Application Alert: Join the Waitlist

Looking to join The Commons? Your way in is through an application. We're currently closed to new members, but we'll be re-opening seats next week! Apply to join the waitlist for your best chance of securing a seat! We'll be reviewing applications in the order of the waitlist.

Join the Waitlist 2023

We'll be kicking off the following Sprints in January 2023:

  • Strategy & Operations
  • Strategic Finance
  • Product
  • Revenue Growth


Learn more // Join the Waitlist


All 2022 Sprints are now closed!

Join the Waitlist

HOT TOPIC - Getting Started with Tableau 📊

Data visualization is the art of making data easier to understand.

Any instance of data being organized for the purpose of communicating insights to an audience can be considered data visualization. Whether it’s an easy-to-read table, a simple bar chart or a scatterplot, these are all data visualizations. Bringing together multiple data visualizations in one place is called a dashboard. To make these visuals and dashboards come to life, operators in tech often use software tools to manage and organize their data. At the very least, they’ll likely be using GSheets or similar.

Keep reading to get the basics of data visualization and how you can improve your data viz skills with Tableau. 👇

While Tableau is relatively straightforward, there are a lot of features and capabilities that can take time to understand. To help, we reached out to The Commons Slack community to get some of their tips to upskill in Tableau, and we heard back from a true pro: Fairuz, one of the data mentors for the Strategy & Operations Sprint.

Start with Tableau resources

“Tableau has a lot of training videos that they put up to cover the basics, it’s a good start.” - Fairuz

Tableau has a set of free resources that are specific to their software. These resources cover topics like getting started with Tableau, connecting your data source and performing calculations.

Practice. And practice some more.

One of the best ways to improve is by doing. Try exploring sites like Kaggle where you’ll find free data sets to play around with.

If you need more structure to help you practice, some recommendations from Fairuz include:

  • Makeover Monday – Weekly learning exercises with over six years of archived materials
  • Workout Wednesday – Challenge questions released weekly on Wednesday for you to recreate.

Draw inspiration from others

There is a whole world of data lovers out there sharing their top tips and tricks. Joining data visualization communities can help you connect with and learn from other Tableau users.

“There are Tableau Zen-Masters who build crazy dashboards that can give you some inspiration” - Fairuz

Tableau Public is a great way to get started with Tableau for free and is highly recommended by members of The Commons. From Viz of the day to Community resources, there is a whole world of Tableau-specific data visualization to explore. Getting exposure to more and more data visualizations and use cases will only improve your own creativity and ability to communicate via data visualizations.

Make use of transferable skills

Tableau is wildly popular for data visualization. But it’s not the only software of its kind. If you’ve used other platforms, you’ve likely got transferable skills.

“Overall my opinion is that Data Visualization has many transferable lessons to one another and even if you’re doing a project that’s in Looker, Tableau, Metabase, Power BI etc. you can use one tool to get better at another.” - Fairuz

As Fairuz mentions, a lot of data visualization principles are the same across software tools. If you have experience with another tool in your current role, you’ll be set up for success when using a new software, there might just be a short adjustment period to get used to the idiosyncrasies of the new tool.

Level up your data viz skills

Data visualization is like a craft – you can only get better at it! By continuously practicing your skills, you’ll be more effective at communicating your insights and data.

Want to amp up your data viz and dashboarding skills by learn directly from Fairuz? Join The Tech Discovery Summit this weekend! He's hosting thsi workshop on Day 2:

📈 Data Viz & Dashboarding:

An introductory workshop on how to build strong data visualizations, a key skill for take home cases and on the job! We’ll dive into how data viz fits into dashboards - an operator's snapshot on the health of their projects and initiatives.

PS you can check out the full article on tableau here.


Enroll for free here

Your weekly level up

Job Search Advice Straight From The Community

ICYMI, our community is great at rallying behind one another....

Here's a round up of advice from members of The Commons:

  • Build your own product: "Especially since you’re interested in Product Management, I would build your own product. For Product roles, they’re looking for folks who have worked on features, built a roadmap, and done user interviews. If you can show that you have done this before, it gives credence to the fact a) you’re serious about being a PM b) you have the skills and experience without the title. You can even put “PM @ Stealth Startup” to “fill the gap”. It doesn’t have to be an actual startup that you want to work on but something to put in your portfolio. You learn a lot from 0 to 1 product management. I know @Shafaq has an awesome portfolio!" - Aya
  • Build, Upskill + Reflect: "I think Aya’s suggestion is great but you could even broaden it. Pick a project and work on it whether building a product, creating a newsletter, building your LinkedIn brand, etc. this will give you purpose and structure for your days to keep you motivated and sharp. Take some time to reflect on what you really want - role, industry. Book weekly networking chats to start getting yourself to your end state. Upskill if necessary! Job searching is its own job - so when your contract ends take a week off! You deserve it and it'll help reset before the work begins." - Zayn
  • Reach out to other members: "I'm here in the same boat if you ever need to chat!!"  Haley

Add to the thread here.

Outsourcing Finance & Accounting Processes

When working at an early stage company, you'll often be tasked with finding ways to scale. And the best part? Being part of The Commons means you can tap into community members for their advice, rather than starting from scratch.

Here's what the community recommended ⬇️

Have more suggestions? Share them in this thread.

Can Spotify's Wrapped Growth Tactic Work at Other Types of Companies?

Spotify wrapped has a great growth strategy behind it. Read the article and share in the thread what other types of businesses this could apply to. ⬇️

I left my campsite and hiked south for 3 miles. Then I turned east and hiked for 3 miles. I then turned north and hiked for 3 miles, at which time I came upon a bear inside my tent eating my food! What color was the bear?

Check out the answer here.


Last week, our lovely community member Rabia helped us host a(nother) meetup in Toronto. It was pretty awesome. 👇

PS if you're a business reading this and want to sponsor a future event, reply to this email! You'll gain exposure to the best community in tech. 🤗

Check out the thread here.

Interested in more?
The Commons Digest (03/09/2023)
The COmmons Insider Newsletter
The Commons Digest (03/09/2023)
The Commons Digest for 03/09/2023
The Commons Digest (03/01/2023)
The COmmons Insider Newsletter
The Commons Digest (03/01/2023)
The Commons Digest for 03/01/2023
The Commons Digest (02/22/2023)
The COmmons Insider Newsletter
The Commons Digest (02/22/2023)
The Commons Digest for 02/22/2023
Skillful is now The Commons.
We’re more than just skills training. We're the place where high achievers come to fulfill their career potential. We combine education, mentorship and community to empower the next generation of ambitious professionals to achieve their career goals.
The time to build the education institution of the future is now. And we're doing it.

Careers are catalyzed through skills-training, mentorship and a supportive network. At The Commons, we're delivering those critical career elements together through learning experiences that are social, mentorship-based and community-first.

Join to learn and stay for the community.