I just finished reading Derek Sivers' Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur in one day. It's a small and short book but packed with much wisdom.
Derek was a musician who created CD Baby, the largest seller of independent music on the web, when he could not find any store to sell his own CD. Friends then asked him to sell theirs, then their friends asked him...and the rest is a history of phenomenal year-over-year growth.
Throughout this amazing journey, Derek did things in a very nontraditional way. From trying to keep his business small, to doing his own programming until the end, to making sure all were focused on making their musicians and customers happy. He didn't care about the "right" way of doing things or what others thought, only that it kept his musicians, customers, and himself happy.
Two of the points that Derek made really resonated with my own experience.
Derek recommends that if an idea requires effort to gain traction, one should improve on the idea until it sells itself. CD Baby required no effort to grow since it truly served a need and did it well. If your idea does that—and he encourages you test it out first—then keep going; if not, iterate and improve.
He also believes that a business reflects the owner and allows the owner to create his own perfect world. Who but the owner decides what will and will not be tolerated, what should be rewarded, who to hire, etc.? Derek worked really hard to maintain this even as the company grew, and chose to leave once he no longer enjoyed what he was doing.
The main reason I've tried to start my own startup, and the main reason I'm focusing much of my job search in the startup world, is that I'd love to create something worthwhile from the ground up. As an operations person, I want to create smart, efficient, and scalable systems; but as a people operations person and leader, I want to create a culture where all are respected, empowered, engaged, and set-up for success and further growth.
I want to create a world where everyone is excited to come to work, is at their best at work, and happy to contribute their best. This will allow me to be my best as well.
What's your vision of a "perfect world" at work?
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