As an investor, founder, CEO and business book author, I write about startups, design, how to build a good business, and I like to muse about culture in any form.

Are We There Yet?

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In the earliest days of Grommet I wrote a blog post “When is this startup real?”  The business was mostly taking shape in my head and I was trying so hard to imagine what it would be like to be where we are now–almost eight years later.

If 2008 was gestation stage, today, we are moving somewhere beyond “cute little kid” towards “awkward adolescent.” With almost 80 people we’re fundamentally still the same entity in terms of sensibilities, mission, and intelligence.  But we’re kind of….awkward. Like a fast-growing pre-teen we have arms and legs pointing all akimbo and we can’t always coordinate them to work together.

It’s normal. Everybody goes through it.  But it’s still a challenge.

As such I appreciated a story that one of our talented designers, Allycia Jones, shared at our all-hands meeting. She was delivering her take on our tradition of a “final thought.” It’s meant to be an inspirational, funny, helpful, or personal insight to cap our bi-weekly meeting.

Allycia Jones

Allycia Jones

Allycia talked about how her father does not fly–“just like John Madden”–so the Jones family had a tradition of big road trips. As kids are inclined to do, Allycia and her brother would whine “Are we there yet?” from the back seat. But Mr. Jones had a brilliant response. He would answer their plaintive question with…a big road atlas book and a calculator, saying, “I don’t know. You tell me.” He got the kids involved in planning the route, the stops, and calculating things like gas mileage.

Allycia tied that to our current existence here at Grommet. We’re in a time of both rapid internal advances, changes, and growth. It can be hard to keep up and stay fully connected to the end goals. Sometimes it’s ridiculously difficult to keep all the “limbs” coordinated and clearly focussed on the goals. I’m paraphrasing, but Allycia advised that as a Grommet team member “you can either sit in the back seat and wait for people to feed you answers, or you can grab that atlas. Whatever your piece of the puzzle is, move it forward, and work to answer your own questions and move the whole company forward.”

So. So. Wise.

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