Thoughts About 2016: December 2nd

good company culture attracts great people

With just 29 days left in this crazy year, I decided, in honor of True Taste Tokyo’s storytelling mission, to share some reflections on the past and preparing for 2017 to begin! (those core values above are from one of my favorite companies, BUFFER)

Thought for Dec. 2nd, Sometimes there are perfect moments and what makes them perfect is the people around you. People Matter!

I started 2016 with a job I really loved with a team and a boss I loved even more. I had been with the company for a year already when 2016 kicked off and things were looking great.

Enjoying an offsite team photo
Enjoying an offsite team photo

We planned this awesome hanami party, held team offsite retreats, enjoyed weekly lunch together on wednesdays and we were starting to really work well together in spite of the natural ups and downs in a fast paced startup environment.

I mention the Hanami (cherry blossom party) because it was sort of the last perfect moment. We even had a partner company who does Tsukiji fish market tours and private catering come and make sushi for us right in the park under the just-starting-to-bloom cherry trees.

Our lovely Cherry Blossom team party Great lesson on why people matter -- photo by Lauren Shannon
Our lovely Cherry Blossom team party — photo by Lauren Shannon

Then the VC’s came in- and took over for a lot of nonsense reasons that I don’t need to detail here. They got rid of key people, first big one was my wonderful boss, then me, then many others– changed focus (a few times) and basically got rid of 98% of the original team. All very Dramatic.

But, I learned stuff. A lot of stuff!

One of my main takeaways was that from top to bottom, I want to work with and for people that I really enjoy. You spend too many hours at work, too many hours of your life to work for people you don’t enjoy, or can’t trust.

As much as you can, choose clients you believe in and choose staff who challenge you but also excite you! The product you make is critical of course, it should be something you LOVE doing. But, if the people don’t fit well together, if you can’t form a company culture you really feel comfortable about, then the path is less likely to be successful and certainly will be a lot less fun to travel.

Strong company and personal values are a great place to start.

Also, when you get a perfect moment like our cherry blossom party, love it, let it be the memory that really captures that time. Don’t let subsequent drama be the story.

For me, the story of my former company was building up to that moment in that park when I was working with a group of highly creative and quirky folks that made going to the job every day a real joy.

I am ending 2016 keeping that memory of my boss, my team and our efforts as the defining takeaway from a two-year startup experience and I’m learning from it as I move forward with my own business. People matter, they really do!