in Startups

On Values

A friend of mine, who just finished his time after helping grow a startup very quickly, said this to me tonight:

A company has 3 sets of values: the ones they want people to think (what a corporation engraves in their lobby), what management believes is important (policies and stated benefits), and finally the values demonstrated by the people who succeed. The first is bullshit, the second is throwing money at the symptoms, and the last one is the only thing that matters.

It’s a great observation (along the lines of the Netflix culture deck) but it is also a¬†challenge.

As founders, employees and even investors our values translate in to very real things for our employees and customers.

Which values do you live?

  1. Nice post, short and sweet, we need more of these easily digestible posts based on good insight tips :)

    I’m trying to build a really awesome culture at Slightly Social, we’ve got a simple culture of fitness, family & fun … so far we’re keeping up, but the biz dev and stress of financial / admin tasks is starting to get in the way of it, mentally!

    Thankfully we are still keeping up with our fitness, the whole team does an hour a day of p90x, we’re on week 5 now and still sticking with it.

  2. As a former angel investor, I took a more holistic approach to values. My number one philosophy is that any investment made should be made based on value creation; does this product or service benefit the world in a meaningful way?

    I can’t stand it when people come to me looking for seed money with a cantankerous new tech which “saves you money and time”. I always ask them “Will this improve someones life in a positive way”? Dumbfounded, they try to revert the conversation back to how much money this venture will make me.

    It seems strange, that as an investor the first thing I care about is not the money, but how potentially beneficial the product is. If all you care about is money, you are better off just being a hedge fund manager. I don’t want to invest in some generic tech that will be worth millions – that’s boring! I want to change the world and leave my mark as an investor. This is why people loved Steve Jobs; he wasn’t just some billionaire CEO of a tech company – he was a VISIONARY.

    Just look at Facebook and Groupon – both their IPO’s have failed to live up to expectations and their current share prices are down significantly. Why? Despite their popularity, Facebook and Groupon don’t offer people meaningful value in their daily lives. But take a look at Google and Apple – these are two companies that have added so much value/improvement into peoples lives and their share prices reflect that.

    The perfect investment to me is the one that allows me to do just that and at the same time, make a boatload of cash. It’s the number one reason I became a VC to begin with.

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