This is about team culture. This is about why celebrating milestones is important. There are the official ones, like launching a successful beta program and then there are the unofficial ones, like one of your key team members moving out to Denver from Seattle to be closer to HQ.
The scale up phase of a startup as it prepares to launch its first product onto the market is one of the most exciting times of any business. It's the first everything.
It's easy to look at a startup in this phase and only see the glamor. It's easy from an outside perspective to look at a company in this phase and think, WOW.
And I'm not going to lie–this phase is awesome and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. I am exactly where I want to be, working on a project that means everything to me.
But bringing something into the world that did not previously exist will take everything out of you. From experience, you can get so lost in the nitty gritty day-to-day reality that you forget to look up and enjoy a sunset. You forget that some people actually see their friends on the weekends and don't work insanely long hours.
This bears repeating: the sacrifice is worth it. I have pushed myself mentally, physically, and emotionally to create something that will hopefully make an enormous impact around the world and I'm a better and stronger person for it.
I'm driven, focused, and that means that at times I forget that people on my team need to stop and enjoy the wins. And my team deserves for me to be cognizant of this fact because they are right there next to me pushing themselves, sacrificing as well, because we have a shared mission. They deserve empathy, one of our key values, over sympathy even though I sometimes confuse the two.
One of my gifts is that I never lose sight of the end goal; one of my failings is that I forget to stop and enjoy the journey along the way.
One of my strengths is that I can recognize my weaknesses and I brought people onto the team with skill sets that offset my own. It makes us stronger. It makes us better. It creates an environment where respect of a diversity of perspectives is the norm.
Still, it's easy to point out to your team the official wins and celebrate those.
A startup is a taker and leadership needs to help set limits. Even though I'm naturally a workaholic and my team members are naturally workaholics, it's important that the leadership on the team draws the line in the sand and tries to help everyone stay balanced even in the exhilarating adventure that is scaling a business. We have to keep in our minds that it it's a sprint, just a very fast moving marathon.
We have to take time to remind each other that we're human. Take time to celebrate wins–the official and unofficial ones. Why? Because life is short.
My dad was a workaholic too. He would always say, "When I retire I'm going to _____________."
My dad died of pancreatic cancer and worked full time up until two weeks before his passing. His promises to himself never came true. And I'm self aware enough to know that I've got a lot of him in me.
I'm lucky to have a partner on the team Andrea, our Head of Special Projects, who is my counter balance. She was the one crazy enough to move in with me and get Revolar off the ground. I'm lucky because she never forgets to celebrate the wins, official or not. She remembers everyone's birthdays; she organizes all the team events from bowling, to game nights, to happy hours.
That's why when Colin, our VP of Biz Dev & Partnerships, moved from Seattle to Denver, it was her who led the charge saying, "We need to celebrate."
She reminds me daily that if I'm the vision the company, that the culture we set as leaders is the heart. And honestly, culture is the people you surround yourself with, it's the millions of interactions we have with one another and the tone we send via those interactions.
I consider myself beyond humbled to work with such an incredible team of people. In a startup the destination matters, but don't forget to enjoy the journey along the way. Before you know it, you'll blink and forget yourself if you don't.