Category Archives: TOMO

An Opportunity to Reset, Refactor, Reform, and Reconsider… Everything.


A Startup isn’t a Startup with out Starting Up, Multiple Times

It’s been 150 days since I started putting an idea into action and a 146 since I penned the first blog post… wow, does time really fly! I’ve come a long way and I’ve been through all of the ups, the downs, and the side-to-sides of putting a new venture together; and I’m still standing.

I’ve walked through a bunch of different concepts, prototypes, and ideas. I’ve seen a cofounder come and go and have worked with a bunch of different folks in-between. I started down the road to raise venture capital and even got a few term sheets to boot, which I feel really great about.

(Another post entirely, but, attempting to raise VC in this particular financial climate and still get term sheet offers has lead to a ton of unique and important lessons-learned. Perhaps I’ll write about it soon.)

And as I consider my options for (re)building the team, for the product, and for my options regarding financing, I had a brief moment of clarity in the past few weeks that has allowed me to take a serious step back to consider everything with a fresh perspective.

This is not unlike what most new companies and startups go through, but I somehow naively believed (despite my history and experience) that this time would be different and that I would “land” on the product and problem immediately (and at first pass) but that’s not how it happened — it rarely does.

Reading Julie’s amazing post on building product reminded me of not only the core objectives but also how to see these things rightly — you should take a moment to review it:

View at

This quote in particular grabbed me:

Teams that fall in love with a problem have more successful outcomes than teams that fall in love with particular solutions.

I feel good about where I started and the multiple prototypes that I’ve put together — the original vision of “building healthier companies” was never in jeopardy and one of the most positive encouragements from many of the VCs that I’ve interfaced with is that I have been consistent in my position from the very beginning.

But that didn’t mean that I didn’t struggle with anxieties around the product or the direction or the team (and in particular, not having a cofounder). This recent post by Charlie O’Donnell is also helpful too:

We don’t really even have a consistent definition of what a co-founder is — so it seems preposterous that there could be such universal agreement that everyone needs one.

Charlie’s point is important to consider: You do not necessarily need a “co-founder” but you do need a team.

And since I’m now back to a team of 1 (at least the only full-time guy) it means that I have the unique opportunity and responsibility to reconsider everything (and I mean everything).

Consequently, I’m taking an important and explicit moment to refactor my thoughts, reform my thinking, and reset even the fundamental reasons of why I started writing code in the first place for this venture.

I’m going to have an important time of introspection, of retrospection, and see where those thoughts and ideas land. I want to go back, all the way back, to first-principles, the things that ultimately drive me to do what I do and to and to ask the really hard questions.

Strategically (and for important mental health reasons), I owe it to myself and future of my company — if I can’t stop for a moment and reflect then I can’t ever expect my staff and team to do so either.

Tactically, I’m going to take a break from writing here and any other digital communication (e.g. Twitter, etc). I will, of course, be writing daily (as I have been for 15 years) on my personal blog.

I’ll see you in a little bit.

Process is Documented Culture


One of the things that became very apparent to me while putting together my last company was the idea that documenting culture was how you identified and refined the organization’s culture.

In other words, if one is to organically “build” culture then it’s actually better to simply observe what is already happening and then document those things (or codify) so that others can ratify and improve on them.

This is why I believe that much of the culture that an organization has are simply the very things that are already happening, the actions that you and your team are doing, exhibiting, living, and breathing day-in and day-out.

There’s no need, especially in the beginning, to manufacture culture — it’s already happening and being built in real-time. The leader’s job, therefore, is to document them, observe, and codify them so that everyone can become literal champions of those things, especially as you begin to hire and scale the business.

When everyone else is trying to “develop” great culture I believe that those things are already happening and that the culture can’t really be created since it’s essentially already happened.

What’s nice about this model as well is that if culture is truly fluid and malleable then so is your process(es) — you can add, subtract, and completely eliminate or rebuild and retool as much as you’d like, especially as the team changes over time.

There are no “sacred cows” when it comes to process because it’s based on the people, the team, the overall staff, and the leadership. As those things change your culture changes. As your culture changes so does process.

Sure, there should probably be a few things that are uncompromisable but those things are obvious — things like integrity, honesty, and transparency. An organization should never have to have those as explicit value statements as no organization worth its salt should be without them.

And we all know what it’s like when those things aren’t really in play.

Process is documented culture, especially in the startup phase. The challenge of any growing organization is to make sure that the team takes the time to document their (changing) culture consistently — most organizations forget to do that.

Originally published at John Saddington. At Eve we believe that there is a better way to do HR. Follow our continued progress of building a company in San Francisco via Twitter, this blog, and even via our email newsletter.

On Creating Greatness


The goal of any leader (and the companies they lead, for that matter…) should be to inspire and create greatness in their staff.

Not just for their fiscal bottom-line but because helping other people become better humans, both personally and professionally, is a win-win in every single way imaginable.

And, in fact, when it happens, the bottom-lines grow.

Leadership is the art of creating greatness in other people.

This means that it’s intentional, not a mistake, and that it’s costly. Anything worth doing will always cost something because creating something is never truly deus ex machina; rather, the artists themselves must give of themselves to others for this exchange to happen, for real growth to occur.

In other words, the leader must sacrifice part of herself for the other so that they might grow and become all that they can be. It is a gift, an offering, an act of self-pruning that seeds and plants the greatest opportunities for growth in others.

When I mentor and lead others I feel the weight and responsibility of that burden. I know the cost because I immediately feel it emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I have given of myself so that the other person, sitting across from me, might accelerate, might grow, might improve, might ascend to new heights.

The expense is worth it, the investment is sound. There are no guarantees and sometimes there is no obvious return, but, I always feel amazing when I stand up, shake hands, give them a final hug, and depart, knowing that they have been encouraged to be more courageous.

And it’s medicine that I need to swallow myself day-in and day-out. I hope many of you have mentors and coaches that you trust, that can help you accelerate to be the very best versions of your worthy selves.

via Gaping Void:

It’s not a leader’s job to be great at whatever. It’s the leader’s job to make the people under him/her great at whatever.

Which is why, in old school Chinese martial arts, a master is not judged by how good his kung fu is, the master is judged by how good his/her students’ kung fu is.

Originally published at John Saddington.