StartUp Founders: Values Are The Worst

Believing culture, values, and principles are the outcomes of growth is a rookie (and arrogant) mistake. They are the foundation of it.

StartUp Founders: Values Are The Worst

Dear Reader,

If your app crashes overnight, what’s your move? Transparency with every customer, or hope it slides under the radar? Welcome to core values. Urgh… (𝕏 Tweet)

This isn’t just about your tech stack’s resilience; it’s a litmus test for those values. (Amazon: Leadership Principle – Earn Trust)

TLDR; Believing culture, values, and principles are the outcomes of growth is a rookie (and arrogant) mistake. They are the foundation of it. (Workbook)


2.3 Your Atomic ICP aka Looking For Nemo


I get it, committing to values seems antithetical to us StartUp pirates, the “whatever it takes” crew, the “wing it till you win it” team, the hackers, the dreamers, the fighters. I hear you. But remember, even pirates set sail with a code. (Amazon: Be Frugal)

It seems absurd when you’re fighting to survive I’m out here talking about culture? Here’s the epic irony: the very reasons you might brush this off (speed, survival, agility) are precisely why these principles are critical. They’re what enable the growth and velocity, especially when navigating the unknown (Amazon: Ownership).

Even worse, you’re tasked with etching these values in stone, leaving no room to alter them with every shift in direction (intentional or not). (Amazon: Commit)

Even worse, it demands that you think deeply about the kind of leader you want to be and the company you are building. (Amazon: Be Right, Often)

Even worse, this isn’t something you can put off until post MVP release. Your principles are the bedrock upon which everything else stands. They shape everything, even the way you code (Amazon: Insist on the Highest Standards).

Learn from the titans: Amazon, PWC, and Walmart. This workbook includes their principles and asks some challenging questions to help you create your own.

SU002.4 Leadership Principles (aka Your Modus Operandi) by James Sinclair

Having, knowing, and choosing when to lean into or step back from these values defines your path. They are your company’s ethical OKRs.

When the idea of dedicating precious bandwidth to defining values seems utterly impractical, remember: you don’t just have the right to define values; you have the responsibility. It’s your values that provide direction during pivots, enhance teamwork and fundamentally unify your efforts towards accelerated growth (Amazon: Learn and Be Curious).

It’s easy to misconstrue startup culture as the sum of your Slack emojis and late-night hackathons. But your culture and by extension, your success is directly tied to the leadership principles you embody and enforce. Whether it’s making tough calls with integrity or fostering innovation and customer obsession, these are your values (Amazon: Think Big).

Happy leading… As always, you are welcome to grab time with me.

— James

(LinkedIn | Tiktok | Twitter)​

Related Post

StartUp Founders: Outcome Driven Design thumbnail

StartUp Founders: Outcome Driven Design

Founders who reverse-engineer from the outcome dramatically speed up time to market, build a product that solves the problem and get into traffic fast.

StartUp Founders: Start Smoking thumbnail

StartUp Founders: Start Smoking

Iterating your MVO through smoke testing is the first step to mitigating product risk, the last step before building and a pathway to product-market fit.

StartUp Founders: Ecosystem Map Now. thumbnail

StartUp Founders: Ecosystem Map Now.

Ecosystem mapping strategically identifies key partners & platforms that accelerate growth. Learn more.