Ten Guiding Points when Starting a New Venture
I created this list based on real experiences, not simply ideals. I’ve had my fair share of failures and letdowns, but I’ve also tasted some moments of success and have learned wonderful, invigorating things from amazing people. I’ve been hurt and I’ve been uplifted. This is a list that reflects some of those lessons and I hope it grows as our new company grows.
1. On Compassion
Act with humility and compassion. Sometimes you will not understand someone’s situation, what they may be going through mentally, physically or emotionally. Don’t make assumptions, do not talk behind people’s backs, and treat everyone with respect and love. Offer a helping hand in sincerity when you can. Don’t be afraid to ask for one either. Being responsive to each other is a sign of respect.
2. On Accountability
We are going to make mistakes, let's accept that but also hold ourselves and each other accountable. Not through anger or aggression, but through guidance, support and pushing each other to grow beyond our mistakes and learn.
3. On Not Knowing
This is new. Let’s get a few admissions out: “I don't know what I'm doing, but I'll give it my all. If you don’t think I am doing that, then hold me accountable please, talk to me, push me, support me. I will do the same for you.”
4. On Leadership
Leadership is founded on these three very basic concepts: respect everyone, give credit, take blame. If leadership can show its support to others this way, we will have a stronger, more egalitarian foundation. Leadership is not management. Leadership is not about assigning or delegating tasks, but rather overseeing and executing a vision. This means inspiring people and forming an organizational structure and community that benefits everyone. Leaders make people feel welcome and special, they appreciate their efforts, and drive a company culture. Leadership is the glue that keeps your team together and your focus steady.
5. On Ideation
There are rarely right and wrong answers. Ideas should all be given a chance to be heard and reflected upon, but in many cases we will not be able to do everything. Let's focus our efforts and scope. Try using design thinking or some other solutions-based modules to come up with ideas.
6. On Mission
Don't be afraid to disrupt an industry. The hardest ideas are sometimes, most of the time, the most worth fighting for. To be driven by mission is always more powerful than to be driven by opportunity. The same entrepreneurial principles apply to both, but your personal determination and desire to persevere is stronger when you really believe in what you are trying to accomplish.
7. On Reactiveness
Don't give up at every let down. This is entrepreneurship, there are ups and downs, and plenty of stress in between. Don't be reactive when things don't go well, instead, calm down, analyze, and learn. Be persistent and consistent. Pivot when you need to, but don't be reactive to everything that happens. The same goes for successes. While each success, big and small, should be celebrated, don't assume a world of fortune from a victory. Be humble, learn, and continue to strive for the betterment of your team. You are only as strong as they are.
8. On Tough Conversations
Do not be afraid of tough conversations. I've made this error too many times in my past. I hate to disappoint people, I also avoided tough talks. But not having those talks leads to further, greater disappointment and a misperception and or misalignment of hope, success, and expectations. Keep things real, be empathetic and compassionate, but remember you still have an obligation to be upfront and honest. When things are not going well, work together to find a new or better solution. Don't exaggerate, and when needed, have tough conversations earlier than later.
9. On Talking to Your People
If you're feeling down, bad or confused about something, talk with people. Talk with your team. Find a mentor. Passive aggressive behaviour is toxic to a team and an organization. Schedule a time to talk about serious things so the other person knows to give you their full attention and time.
10. On Asking Questions
Ask questions when you want information. At the same time, offer information and be inclusive when asked. Communication is a two way street and poor communication leads to more problems than what may be apparent. People may feel left out, disheartened, unvalued, and on the other side, projects may falter, holes may form, and a lack of communication undermines a team's ability to learn and grow from their work and from each other. Reach out and be willing to teach and learn from your teammates.