Why Are You Here?
November 21, 2011 2 Comments
It’s a question that should be expressly discussed and understood by leadership team members in a startup, particularly amongst the founders. It was the first agenda item at my first leadership meeting at BlackLocus and it ended up setting the tone for the rest of the day. From that 15 minute discussion, I feel like I know my team members more deeply and can now focus on helping them achieve their aspirations.
Why is this question so important for me to understand in an early stage company? Because I’m getting ready to go to battle with this handful of individuals and I must understand the level of motivation, commitment, passion and what drives someone to participate in the inherent ambiguous, stressful and all-consuming experience that a startup demands.
I’ve participated in a handful of these discussions in the past and they go one of two ways. The abysmally useless way is when you go around the room and everyone says something to the effect of “I just want to build a great company” or “I love startups”. The refreshingly transparent way is when you create a safe environment for full disclosure of both ego and monetary goals. It’s perfectly OK to say, “I want to make a shitload of money by building a valuable company”. In fact, that’s exactly what I said when it was my turn. Its about creating a culture of transparency, honesty and mutual respect from the get-go.
A week later, I still remember precisely what each of my colleagues want to achieve from this experience. One of the most honest and interesting aspirations I’ve ever heard came out of this session. One person wanted to build a successful enough legacy to be invited to give a University commencement speech. Not only is that honest, but its so cool and inspiring that I want to help them achieve it.