TL;DR: It Gives Context: Makes Us Grateful, Humble
If you’ve had the opportunity of reading any of our previous posts on our blog hosted here on Medium or even interfacing with me in public then you’ve probably seen how we (I) often reference the # of days it’s been since we first started putting our little project together.
For instance, today is Day #115 and today is absolutely glorious (just like all of the other days before it)!
By the way, this isn’t a random social or cultural artifact that I created because I was bored nor is it an awkward “quirk” from an obsessive-compulsive startup founder (although you can argue that point all you want…) — I believe it is a super-simple yet powerful tool for business and company building.
And here’s why…
After having built a few companies in the past and having the very humbling and distinct honor of putting one together that experienced “hyper-growth” I know the struggle of keeping the company culture intact as new people join the team — in fact, I sourced, interviewed, and made offer letters for the first 42 people in my previous venture!
More specifically, I know how hard it is to share and communicate cultural norms and the history of the company as time goes on as these things can get easily lost in translation and/or people forget to share these important pieces of data.
I mean, things are moving so fast and there are so many things to be doing that a “history lesson” is the last thing that can get prioritized on anyone’s To-Do list.
This is unfortunate because some of the most powerful pieces of cultural information on the company and business is the founding history and the early stages of the company!
Days becomes weeks and weeks become months and months become years and suddenly people start joining the company who do not fully understand the complete picture of how the company got to where it is today (and where they’ve been). And, there’s no system in place to make sure that these new folk can get caught up, or at the very least, given some perspective.
You see, these stories are fundamentally important because they are more than just the social and cultural “moorings” of a business — they explain the founding principles, they explain and give answer to the holy grail question of “why” and provide clear context for the now — for the “what” and “how”.
These origin stories are the very lifeblood of the organization and they remind all parties, all team members, and all leaders why they said “yes” to building this particularly business at this stage of their lives when they could have said “yes” to many other alternatives.
And so that’s where numbering the days comes in very, very handy…
I’m not very good with numbers, trust me on this — you can ask my 9-year old as she’s seen me struggle to pace with her and some of her math studies that she brings home. But I can count and I’m really good at that.
Counting is simple enough but that’s probably why it’s so powerful and so accessible. Telling someone that the company is 115 days old gives them context of how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.
It also gives context to the team about how much progress has been achieved and how much we have to celebrate, how grateful we can all be about the velocity, momentum, and sheer monumental effort that we’ve all already invested into the business.
It simply makes (and keeps) me, as a leader and founder of the company, distinctly and chiefly humble. I can’t believe how much we’ve done, how far we’ve come, in such short order. And I’m so freakin’ thankful for the team that surrounds me — I couldn’t have done it without them.
So, when said team is discouraged or we’ve hit any type of roadblock I can just share the # of days that we’ve been working and remind the team (and myself) the distance traveled. It’s a leveling stick, a discrete and distinctly objective piece of data that helps align the team, emotionally and psychologically, on the same page. It keeps us grounded.
And as we grow our team and add more members to the staff the number will keep growing with it and everyone will have a bit more context on where we’ve been, what’s been done, and how grateful we all can be for the ride so far (and the one that is continuing to develop).
My job, then, as one of the leaders in the organization is to simply remind people that we are, in fact, counting. Sometimes I’ll even write about them, like these two posts that recount the first 50 and then the first 100 days:
I consider it a responsibility, a joy even, to be “that” guy that helps keep context, helps keep score, helps level the ship a bit better for everyone on the team, so we can remember how good we’ve all got it.
Because we do — we’re blessed to be doing what we get to do, all the time, in every way, the good and the bad. You see, a startup gives many of us the opportunity to live the fullest lives that we can possibly live — we simply can’t do “this” in any other context.
And we’d have it no other way.