To read the Green Pants Chronicles from the beginning, click here.
Act 1: Inception
Before we all got on board, it was important to all of us, but perhaps most to Chris, that we express our values so that we knew what kind of people we were going to be together. I didn’t know it at the time, but we were laying a foundation for a very, very strong culture in this shared expression of what we thought was important.
I’m sharing the values below, but before I do so, I’m going to capture one more very important event that happened before we all truly committed. Chris suggested that we all get together for a family dinner. This was a bit unexpected, but I like hosting, so… game on!
What transpired that night was that the four of us founders, and all of our families, got together at my house for a bit of a coverdish. (If I remember correctly, I think I made sliders). But the important thing that happened was that we got a few hours as families to interact and assess one another. Did the families and spouses interact in respectful and loving ways? Did the kids get along? Were we gracious to one another within our families, and in our interactions with each other?
It was an important lesson. A founder’s entire family is taking the risk. A founder’s family hears and sees the ups and downs that the founder is going through. Chris was right to make sure that we all meshed together well. And, we did.
Windsor Circle Values
Without further ado, here are the values that deeply defined us for almost a decade.
Windsor Circle makes data-driven life-cycle automation simple, actionable and measurable for all marketers.
We are revolutionizing retail marketing by giving every retailer incredibly simple access to the rich data stored in the retail ecosystem. In doing so, we will build a world class software company employing 300 creative class professionals in Downtown Durham!
Principles / Guiding Thoughts
Openness and Transparency in All Cases.
Above all things, people want to trust one another. People are strong enough to handle the truth. We speak openly about things, and have the courage and conviction to trust one another with difficult topics. This is true regardless of who’s involved (employees, customers, investors, partners or others).
Facts, Not Claims.
Our communications, both as individuals, and as a company, should be rooted in fact. If you say it, be able to back it up.
Fairness Starts with Objective Data Points.
Do your research. Be open to others’ research. Trust each other not to skew or obscure the data.
Two Ears, One Mouth.
It is a human tendency to speak first. It is far better to “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
Start by listening.
Single Source of the Truth.
We strive for a single source of the truth, and make sure everyone can get to it. At Windsor Circle, “truth” regarding our clients and our sales will reside in our CRM system. The “truth” regarding internal operations will reside on our Wiki (not floating around in email, etc). Everyone should dedicate themselves to communicating through these mechanisms so that everyone can get to the Truth quickly, and with confidence that we’re all singing from the same hymnbook.
All Employees are Shareholders.
The best way to achieve alignment between employees and their goal of maximizing value to shareholders is to make them shareholders. Everyone at Windsor Circle will have equity and/or options as part of their compensation plan.
Teams Survive Longer than Individuals.
A common team building exercise involves a hypothetical crash in the desert or in the arctic. You can only take 10 items as you try to survive. You do the exercise first as an individual. You do it again as a group. You then compare the results to those of survival experts, like Navy Seals, who theoretically could survive the best. The group almost always gets more items right than the individual. Lesson: teams survive longer than individuals.
Employees Grow the Business. Leaders Grow the Employees.
Both roles are accountable to excellence.
Lead from the Front.
Do what you expect your team to do.
It’s ok to be wrong and it’s ok to make mistakes. Admit them, learn from them, and move on. People not making mistakes are either not taking enough risks, or they’re not admitting them, or both.
Dish the Ball.
Delegate responsibility and then get out of the way. Your teammates are as committed and capable as you.
Efficiency and Focus
Pareto’s Law rules.
80% of the value will come from 20% of the effort. Focus on the most important things and execute on them relentlessly.
The Goal of the Firm is to Maximize Profit for Shareholders.
Windsor Circle is not a non-profit. It’s not a social change agent. It is not a club. We are a for-profit entity. It is in our nature to be good corporate citizens, but while at work, we should be executing together with a single purpose in mind, and that is to maximize profit for the shareholders of Windsor Circle. And remember, all employees are shareholders.
The Paying Customer Dictates the Truth.
This is more than “the customer is always right.” This is an orientation, throughout our company, that we build products that people pay us for. If there is a question about what direction to take on a specific issue, ask what the paying customer thinks. That will be the answer.
Everyone is in Sales.
Those who think that sales is someone else’s job should find another job. Everyone should be asking, at all times, “What problem are you trying to solve?” If we can help, then we should forthrightly say so, and ask for an opportunity to explain why we think so and to seek the opportunity to win that business.
If You Can’t Measure It, Don’t Do It.
Things that cannot be measured cannot be improved. Things that cannot be improved are rarely worth doing.
The Art of the Possible
The “art of the possible” is a tremendous form of problem solving because it checks all of the “why nots” at the door. Focus on the desired result, name 100 ways to get there, and then choose the most viable option.
Don’t Think Outside the Box. Shred the Box.
It’s just business. The only rules (and they are of utmost and paramount importance) are honesty, integrity, and legality. If you can check those three boxes, you can and should break all other rules in the pursuit of maximizing profit. Question assumptions. Challenge the status quo.
Those Who Say It Can’t Be Done Should Not Get in the Way of Those Doing It.
The biggest accomplishments in human history are the ones that seemed impossible. But someone did them.
Ask. The Worst They Can Say Is “No.”
This is the execution part of “art of the possible.” When you think someone might turn something down, ask. Let them turn you down. On the off chance that they say “yes,” you will receive benefits that no one else thought possible.
No Substitute for Ownership and Fair Compensation.
Foosball and free sodas are poor substitutes for fair financial compensation and ownership in an exciting, growth-oriented business. Doesn’t mean that we won’t have fun. And we’ll very likely have free soda. But we won’t confuse the fact that our employees’ well-being, and that of their families, are of paramount importance to them. The nice-to-haves are just that. Nice to have.
Play to Your Stars.
Wow your top 10%. Excellence is hard to find. Once you’ve found it, secure it.
Risk * Execution^2 = Reward.
We’re building a world class software as a service company. As a startup, we need people taking risks. The more risk one takes, the more reward is embodied in the upside. That said, we must execute against our plans to mitigate the risks, or the reward will never materialize. So, risk times execution squared will be the lens we peer through as we think about financial compensation for members of our team.