Stevan Popovic'

Values

November 15th, 2014

Why a great company culture starts with you

“We have a great company culture” is perhaps the second most overused phrase in startups after “we’re very disruptive.” Startups compete for talent based on their culture and many people joining tech startups are lured by the promise of a great work environment. But in reality there is no definition of what a great company culture is. Instead, startup candidates should be looking for a culture that matches with their own, finding a mesh between company principles and their own personal values. To find a great company culture you must therefore start with an analysis of your own personal values.

In light of the above realisation I began an introspective look at what I beleive to be my values; the principles I hold which dictate the way I behave. These are the ideas that underpin my motivations, dictate my actions and influence the way I interact with others. I believe by better understanding your own values, you can more accurately seek the culture that will suit you. When you find a culture that embraces your values, and de facto people who share those values, you will be able to do truly great work.

In the name of transparency, I created a new page on my personal site to display my personal values. By being open with my values, I hope that people will understand me better. Once you understand me, maybe you’ll hire me, maybe we’ll be friends or maybe we will build something cool together. If you share similar values to me, you should get in touch.

Below are three of my personal values. The first represents how I frame challenges in my life and my route to overcoming them. The second highlights my daily approach to knowledge and how to aquire it. The final one positions my future and how I intend to create it.

“For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I believe in being ambitiously positive. This does not mean I don’t get angry, sad or unmotivated. It means when I do, I challenge myself to realise that instantly and take action to see the positives in a situation. Life is too short.

“Education is what people do to you, and learning is what you do to yourself.” Joi Ito

I hold myself to the mantra of forever learning more. This is a personal quest to broaden my horizons, become more knowledgable and empower myself with tools to maximise my impact.

“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.” George Sheehan

I believe success is a function of an individuals ability, ambition and determination. Therefore, success isn’t a still target but rather an evolving goal. Whilst ambition and ability are in part defined by genetics and your environment, I believe determination is found within the individual, and therefore hard work is the most influential factor for personal success.

As I continue to grow, I believe these values may change and evolve, so I will add to the page as they do. In my current work each of these values are nourished in some way and that is why I can enjoy the culture.

If you are looking for work in startups, on a quest to find the best company culture, I urge you to first analyse your own values. Only through self analysis will you understand what drives you and in turn find a company that will best fuel that drive.

Thanks for reading this far. What personal values drive you? Share them with me at @stevanpopo. If you enjoyed reading this post, it is available to recommend on Medium.

*p.s. If you have an interest in learning more about company culture and how important it can be for a company and the individuals within it, I recommend listening to this discussion of culture or reading this post by Brian Chesky.




  • Timely to this post on values, is the recent goings on at Uber. A senior executive at a private dinner said that Uber should research the personal lives and expose any personal issues of journalists who wrote negative articles about them. Whilst Uber have since apologised for this comment it is in line with the win at all costs mentality they have and the war thirst their founder embraces. This is a great example of how values permeate in a company. You could imagine that if you were not comfortable with this, i.e. you don’t share those values, then working at Uer write now is probably quite awkward. You would almost feel guilt on behalf of the company. This is why its important to make sure your personal values align with the company and founders.