Introducing: Hear the Leaders – Transformational stories of tomorrow

Rafael Sweary
By Rafael Sweary
Updated May 2, 2023

What does a Formula 1 race car driver have to do with WalkMe?

That’s what my colleagues asked me when I came to them with this idea. I had just returned from Monaco Formula 1, where I had the amazing opportunity to meet Tatiana Calderón, the 26-year-old racer who is close to breaking into the male-dominated Formula 1 arena.

Tatiana is a force. She’s the test driver for the Alfa Romeo Formula 1 team, has competed in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, and trains relentlessly — physically and mentally — to qualify for Formula 1. 

When I listened to her speak, I was blown away at her ambition and dedication. As a woman racer, she not only needs to overcome the expected challenges of elite training, but she must also confront all of the naysayers and critics who tell her she’ll never be able to achieve her goals. 

I returned home and thought more about her story. Then I realized there are many stories like this, ones that have the power to motivate others and make a positive impact. 

That’s what this is all about. We created the Hear the Leaders interview series to showcase these inspiring individuals, empower others to pursue their dreams, and change the world for the better.

“You’re crazy and you don’t have a chance.”

These are the magic words. 

They either break you or push you to create your own success. Tatiana has heard them many times. I’ve heard them countless times, too.

What impresses me most about Tatiana’s story is not everything she’s achieved so far, although her prior successes are extremely laudable. To me, the most admirable part is the level of motivation and commitment she’s developed to keep her pushing forward.

Our world is full of people who have forced us to expand our definition of success — in sports, business, science, art. There are many more who are still on their way there. Every day and each step forward demands an unbreakable drive and commitment. The people who manage to keep that momentum are the ones I want to highlight.

The people who still hear the words, “You’re crazy,” or, “You don’t have a chance,” or, “You should cut your losses and give up,” and are determined to succeed anyway also deserve the spotlight.

Someone recently asked me what kind of advice I would give people who are pursuing a tough goal in the face of adversity.

There’s a lot of tips I might give. But if I have to choose one, it’s this: don’t be afraid of failure. 

This might sound obvious, but learning how to persevere in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges can feel impossible.

In the spirit of the upcoming interviews, I’ll get personal.

It wasn’t until I was an adult that someone told me I might be dyslexic. Finally, the struggles I faced in all of my years of school made sense. No matter how hard I worked — and trust me, I worked relentlessly — I was just barely passing my classes. 

For many years I felt completely discouraged and demoralized. I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but everyone around me kept suggesting I pursue manual work, like plumbing or construction. Why make myself suffer through more school when I could simply take a less demanding route?

It took a lot of motivation and strength, but eventually, I found a way to overcome the challenges I faced. I learned to recognize the mistakes my dyslexia caused me to make and which tools could help me avoid them. After years of determination, I earned my Master’s degree and launched several businesses. 

Even in the early days of WalkMe, it was difficult to convince people of the need for a Digital Adoption Platform (DAP). Companies that set out to disrupt the common wisdom about a particular topic face this hurdle. A lot of people told us it would be impossible to succeed, but look where we are now. Seven years later, WalkMe has helped establish an entirely new category of technology, and the company is thriving.

No one’s path to success is straight. 

Yes, when pursuing a goal, you want your overall direction to be up. However, when you zoom-in to the path of achievement, you’ll see that it’s really a series of ups and downs, wins and losses.

Set milestones, define what progress will look like, and ask yourself what price you are willing to pay. It’s not a straight shot to victory. Those who fare well understand what it means to fail well.

You don’t need to take my word for it. Stay tuned for the upcoming interview series. Our team here has taken the idea and really run with it. We have some amazing stories for you — and I hope you enjoy them.

Rafael Sweary
By Rafael Sweary
Rafael Sweary (or Rafi, as he's fondly called at the office) co-founded WalkMe in 2011 and is the President of the company. He previously was the CEO and President of Jetro Platforms which was acquired in 2007 and has helped fund and build several other successful companies, both in his role as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Ocean Assets and in a personal capacity. Rafi's passion and dedication are a driving force behind WalkMe's digital adoption vision.