I’m exhausted, but I’m having a good time. Every week, there are all kinds of stresses and challenges, but I’m mostly able to navigate and handle things, which is extremely satisfying. And best of all, I get to work closely with a team that I respect and trust deeply.
Looking back on my writing (I’ve continued to write 300+ words a day since late December 2013) and the books I’ve been reading, I see that there are recurring themes. I’ve decided to jot them down since it’s helpful for me to see these as a list. Here they are:
Giving and receiving feedback
Creating channels and a work environment where feedback goes up and down, side to side throughout the organization. Also making sure that feedback is constructive and candid.
Training and establishing clear expectations
Continual teaching across the organization by everyone as well as rigorous training programs and well-crafted sets of expectations for every single role in the organization.
Doing great work
Making the mantra of “under-promise, over-deliver” the default treatment for clients and pushing ourselves to create impressive work on a consistent basis
Telling our story
Tying together mission, vision, and principles to tell a unique story about our organization. Being able to answer the question of our company’s future in a confident, detailed, and compelling manner.
Hiring the right people
Expanding our recruiting efforts, building a great pipeline of talent, and making sure we’re proactive in gunning for talent rather than waiting for people to appear at our door. Also making sure we’re vetting people carefully and not hiring to fill immediate holes but to build a solid team.
Reinforcing our core principles
Finding ways to make our core principles more apparent and memorable to team members on a daily basis and introducing ways to energize the team about them.
It’s not necessarily about headcount, but it’s about making every aspect of the organization less ad hoc and more structured and repeatable. I want to scale up business development, recruiting, and our core activities like project management, design, and development. This means better documentation, better training, and better process. It’ll ultimately allow us to grow in headcount as well, which I welcome as another challenge.
How can we instill into our culture, in a systematic way, the process of continuous improvement in everything we do? At the project level and also at the company level? How do we properly document our process and also make sure it’s happening at every position? Kaizen interests me and the idea of a team member at any level being empowered to speak up to make things better.
I’ve been fortunate to have been recommended or to have serendipitously come across some really great books in recent months that have influenced some of these themes. Here are their titles:
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
- Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson
- Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull
- A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business (Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading) by Ari Weinzweig