Ben folds concert

Went to ben folds concert tonight. Awesome.

Culture and Core Values (via OrganizedWisdom)

I really liked this post from Unity over at the OrganizedWisdom Blog on their company values and culture.

I’ve been fortunate to spend some time with the guys at OrganizedWisdom and I know that they truly mean every word posted.  I’ve learned more and more that the key to a successful startup is a solid foundation of people and values.  I think people often get confused that ideas, connections, or money are the key to success.  From what I’ve seen, all of those things help but are not the key.  In fact I think all of those things are easier to come by when you have a solid core of values and people who believe in them.  I really like the core values laid out in the OrganizedWisdom blog post:

So here are the 10 core values that shape our culture…

  1. Our people are our most valuable asset and our most important investment:
    Over 90% of our budget is invested directly in our team! It is ultimately our team who drive innovation and create success.
  2. We only hire A-team players who are the best at what they do:
    We care as much about passion and a positive attitude as we do specific skills and experience.  We strive for a family spirit to create a fertile environment for service, progress and growth.
  3. We dream big:
    We believe (and have proven since inception) that any goal we set for the Company, we achieve. We set big goals and constantly ask how can we do better, how can we innovate, and how can we help more people?
  4. We focus on effectiveness and results:
    We work with each team member to define clear and measurable goals every month and use weekly metric reviews to stay focused and keep on track.
  5. We believe transparency and collaborative communication makes us more effective:
    We get more done when working together which is why we use group communication tools for nearly everything we do.
  6. We stay solutions focused when innovating:
    The mindset is not why we can’t do something, but how we can do something.
  7. We don’t write plans, we mock our ideas.
    On the fly prototyping enables us to innovate rapidly, save valuable time, and get new creations live early and often so we can get invaluable real world feedback.
  8. We continually test, experiment and optimize:
    Our product and the service we are creating are never done.  We use data and real-world feedback and iterate producing major transformations of the week.
  9. We thrive because of our $0 Cost Office Model:
    Our going green virtually approach helps us do more with less, create happier team members, and invest our time and capital more effectively to better serve our users and our clients.
  10. We’re passionate about an important mission — to create the most useful search service in online health…We hope those around us are inspired by our energy and passion for the OrganizedWisdom Mission to help people.

Check out the full post at the OrganizedWisdom blog.

Media_httpimgzemantac_cbkmt

“Make meaning not movement”

I was having a discussion about entrepreneurship yesterday with a friend and I mentioned that I can see one of entrepreneurs at one of the startups I’m consulting for really starting to get anxious about money.  I mentioned that I could see their anxiety manifesting itself in pushing for more…more time, more phone calls, more emails, more stuff.  But at the end of the day when I look back all of the things we / they have done as a company over the last 4 months, there are really only a few high value activities, and none of them seemed to come from “doing more.”  There is a lot of chatter, particularly email and skype chatter, but very little of it seems to translate into real value for the copmany.  It just yields more chatter, but it feels like doing something, and when people start to get anxious they feel they can solve the anxiety by just doing something.  It doesn’t work.

In my discussion yesterday, my friend told me he has seen this time and time again in startups, where entrepreneurs think the cure for their problems is by making more movement.  Instead, my friend suggested, “make meaning, not movement.”  This is certainly easier said than done.  And you might say “well the only way to know what creates value is to try lots of things.”  I do think that is true to some extent.  But often times what I see and do (I’m very guilty of this) is sort of a blind blur of activity in hopes it will make something happen.  Amazingly people (me included) take very little time to take a step back, and really evaluate the situation.  It is only within this “meta” perspective that you will be able to spot opportunities to “make meaning.”

So I was pleased to stumble upon this blog post today from Caterian Fake titled “working hard is overrated.”   My favorite section of the post was a quote  from a book titled “Smart World,” about Watson and Crick, who discovered the structure of DNA:

At times the two central protagonists behaved like people whose day job was working up skits for Monty Python….they had distinctly lackadaisical work habits. Watson played several sets of tennis every afternoon and spent his evenings alternately chasing ‘popsies’ at Cambridge parties and going to the movies. Crick, who rarely showed up at the lab before 10 AM and took a coffee break and hour later repeatedly appeared to lose interest in the problem of DNA. On more than one occasion, vital piece of information were obtained not through hard work but as a result of chance conversations in the tea line at the Cavendish laboratory.

I love the last paragraph of her post to summarize:

Much more important than working hard is knowing how to find the right thing to work on. Paying attention to what is going on in the world. Seeing patterns. Seeing things as they are rather than how you want them to be. Being able to read what people want. Putting yourself in the right place where information is flowing freely and interesting new juxtapositions can be seen. But you can save yourself a lot of time by working on the right thing. Working hard, even, if that’s what you like to do.

Make meaning not movement.

Media_httpimgzemantac_bjxcg