How do you get culture right?

If you get the culture right, then most of the other stuff follows. -Tony Hsieh

Team effortI’ve been on large enterprise teams and lean, startup teams. Worked with for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations. There’s been times where everything felt right and times where everything was a challenge.

Creating great products, providing premier customer service and delivering results all start with one thing: culture.
StartupMyself and a few others recently founded a startup to change the way companies spend money, manage resources and deliver social impact. When a workforce can view their financial footprint, easily remove or repurpose what they no longer need and allocate a portion of the money saved to charity, companies become cost focused communities filled with people who care.

Our products success is still an unknown, but the team culture makes our work feel like a mission. The smart, creative people I’ve partnered with are turing an idea into a working technology. Here’s the 5 culture traits that keep us shipping, measuring, framing and building:

  1. Keeping it flat. This is a startup – no hierarchy, no titles. Startups are a team sport, everyones ideas and contributions matter. You deliver as a team or you don’t deliver. The promotions are won as a group, not as an individual.
  2. Consistent and constant feedback. Openly discussing goals, progress and setbacks are critical, at the individual and group level. This creates and controls a healthy, productive environment.
  3. Small, achievable goals and big, lofty goals. Weekly, monthly and longterm goal setting with the ability to shift when needed is critical. Along with our startup I’m passionate about long distance trail running. Running a 100 mile race requires crossing a dozen aid stations and check-ins before reaching the finish line. Same applies for shipping a new product. Doing regular check-ins while recognizing the small, measurable successes is all part of delivering a viable product.
  4. Working Out LoudWorking out loud. Sharing our work with others has allowed us to grow our network,
    crowdsource ideas and build meaningful relationships. By doing so we’ve connected with entrepreneurial thought leaders at Foundry Group, Techstars and MergeLane. The advice and benefits we’ve received are unquantifiable. I’m encouraged not just when I’m told to “keep going!” but also when someone raises a new problem to solve or presents a different approach for thought.
  5. Celebrating with one another, not over each other. Collectively, as a team we feel the ups and downs, it’s part of the startup journey. When a new plugin, design or release has gone well, we celebrate. If it was easy it’d already be done, it’s important to acknowledge the wins together.

3 must-haves to start a charity

Recently I connected with Amelia Dickerson and Michael Oliva to startup the newest chapter for Achilles International. Both Amelia and Michael are driven and motivated to expand and grow Achilles wherever there is demand or need for adaptive sport programs. I was lucky to be invited to help build a program, be part of the journey and learn a lot along the way.

Here are 3 essential must-haves I’ve learned over the past 8 weeks by working with smart, passionate people, turning an idea into a sustainable community for athletes of all abilities.


“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.” ~Peter Drucker

CommitmentCommitment of a few can spread to many. It’s about showing up when conditions are less than ideal and at times we’re not 100%. Whether it’s playing an active role or being there to support others, commitment matters. The more people commit themselves to a cause or purpose the more that initial passion turns into a movement.

Embrace challenge

“Don’t give up! It’s not over. The universe is balanced. Every set-back bears with it the seeds of a come-back.” ~ Steve Maraboli

challengeTurning an idea or concept into something tangible is not easy. There’s challenge in experimentation, building awareness, overcoming barriers and finding the right ingredients to make it all work. Some things stick, some things are lessons along the way. A challenge today could be a lesson that leads to success tomorrow. Find joy in the challenge.

Lean-on others

Scott Jurek - Achilles

Scott Jurek guiding at the BoulderBOULDER10k

Had a blast guiding a blind runner, Luanne, in the BolderBOULDER 10k this morning! She did awesome, finished in 48:08, 5th place in her age division (52yrs)! Thanks to Achilles International for the opportunity.” ~Scott Jerek

A movement is started by early followers, not the leader. Find other people and groups to champion your effort, it’s critical. In a few short weeks we’ve had an overflow of support from the running community, city council, other adaptive sport programs and local businesses. People genuinely want others to succeed and help when given the opportunity. Lean on those people.