I learn so many things every day from my work: persistence that I see from my manager, work ethics that I learn from my colleagues, passion that I feel from leadership, and so much more. What resonated with me recently was what Logan, the CEO of my company, said in one of our training sessions. Starting a new year, he shared 6 core values he wishes us to have for another successful year in 2018.
There are countless articles and lectures about ‘key values for success’, ‘tips to succeed’, and ‘X ways to inspire employees’, but I guess they become more compelling and inspiring only when they are said by someone who you know that they actually went through hard times and learned by their firsthand experience. Though only about an year, as I have seen him making hard decisions, prospering, succeeding, and failing, I could feel that the list is from his own experiences, not from some arbitrary articles. I also know that there are some items that I really need to improve myslef.
Okay, so here are the six core values form Logan and what he actually said in the session:
When I think about courage, I think about sort of questing into the unknown. There is a Spanish saying that “You always need to be able to make a decision with only 70% of the information”. It feels scary because you wish you had 100% of the information, but the reality is that perfection stifles progress very often. So, having the courage to stand up, speak, take a chance, and believe in yourself is an important thing that I am hoping to see and demonstrate in all of you along with your journey in this year of 2018.
Courage without empathy is being arrogant. Being able to be courageous is one thing but not listening to others is another thing. So, making sure that we are able to listen to each other, making sure that we are able to listen to our customers’ needs and being empathetic to what their needs are for each of your roles and each of personas is another important attribute that we really need to have. Just think about: what are some examples of making sure that we are listening? Making sure that we are caring about the fact that our colleague who had one hell of a week because of three fires that they had to put out? We figure out how to be a little bit more available to them for the week because you know that when you have a bad week, they are going to be able to come back for you in return.
Being able to work together in a unified fashion. For me personally, I am trying to understand how to drive more elegant communications across all of us. I think there is no question at that if we are going to be able to succeed as a team, all of the cylinders must be running. We can’t have a couple of cylinders running and a couple of cylinders not running. So, the goal here is to make sure that we are raising those voices and that we are able to listen, sympathize, and come up with solutions.
In entrepreneurship, nothing is going to work the first time. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Do you know how many times I hit my head against the wall to try to get Aquicore working? I can’t even count the number of times that I have tried and I have failed. This is not a game of perfection. This is not a game of 100% successful times. You will try and you will fail. We will try and we will fail. But persistence is what is going to prevail and win the game. When I was rowing (I don’t know how well you are familiar with my background, I used to be in a rowing team in college), the team that I rowed with was a very under-funded team. It was a team that had 60 people and it had enough money for a 4 person team. But regardless of that circumstance, we were still in the national rank every year. We beat Purdue, we beat MIT, and we beat all of those Yalies and IVYs. All that took was persistence: It took being willing to wake up in the morning. It took being willing to plow through that frustration that you get when you were sitting in the moment where you feel like you can’t solve the problem. I personally never forget that you have the team around you to support you and you have that core value to support you when you get into that moment.
I would like to emphasize the clinging desire to improve. I think a lot of us, and I will admit this, probably got little comfortable in 2017. We found our message, we found our system, and teams are doing its thing. But we kind of realize that there was something that was in debt. We knew there were pending needs well beyond what we were achieving. So, being able to recognize that and push forward with our improvement is essential. I think the Product team is a great example where we were trying to create a system around improving on a regular basis – through the use of retrospective and through the use of introspection, listening to yourself and hearing what is wrong.
No entrepreneur story starts without urgency, unfortunately, or fortunately for that matter. It is what makes it exciting and what makes it stressful. The reality is that there is an urgent need for us to be able to accomplish each of these goals within the timelines.