What’s the best way to create a good company culture?

Ryan Howard (Founder @ Practice Fusion)
Transcript: Protecting yourself as the founder; Ryan Howard | VatorNews

People are the reason companies fail. They can also ruin the culture. The wrong leader can cause dysfunction, they can cause fighting, they can cause people to quit as well. Always have a very low tolerance for under-performers. One thing you learn over time if you’re going to be successful is you need to have to courage to have the hard conversation to let someone go. We had a mantra, “Hire slowly, fire fast.” It serves us quite well.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Loyalists vs Mercenaries – AVC

Mission. People are loyal to a mission. I’ve seen super talented people walk away from compensation packages 2-3x what they currently make because they believe in what they are working on and think it will make a difference in their lives and the lives of others. This is why investing in mission driven companies can produce great financial returns.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Loyalists vs Mercenaries – AVC

In the Bay Area and NYC, your employees are constantly getting hammered to leave for more cash, more equity, more upside, more responsibility, and eventually it leads to them becoming mercenaries. It is incredibly hard to hold onto a team in the Bay Area and NYC. If you are building your company in Ljubljana, Waterloo, Des Moines, Pittsburgh, Detroit, or Indianapolis, you have a way better chance of building a company full of loyalists than if yo… (read more)

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Moments that clarify what your values really are | A Founder’s Notebook

Here’s an interesting exercise: Instead of making a list of the values you’d like your company to have, make a list of the 5 core values you observe in practice. If your hiring, firing and promotions reflect your true values, then these events become values and clarifying moments for people in your company.

Caryn Marooney (VP Technology Communications at Facebook)
The Best PR Advice You’ve Never Heard – from Facebook’s Head of Tech Communications | First Round Review

To develop a compelling message, Marooney advises running it through the RIBS test: Relevant. Inevitable. Believable. Simple.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Loyalists vs Mercenaries – AVC

Teams come in all flavors. There are highly loyal teams that can withstand almost anything and remain steadfastly behind their leader. And there are teams that are entirely mercenary and will walk out without thinking twice about it. I once saw an entire team walk out on a founder. That company survived it, remarkably.

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Startup advice, briefly – Sam Altman

In addition to building a great product, if you want to be really successful, you also have to build a great company. So think a lot about your culture.

Dharmesh Shah (Co-founder and CTO of HubSpot)
Happy Birthday HubSpot! 9 Lessons From Our First 9 Years

Once you start writing your culture down, a couple of surprising things will happen: 1) You’ll realize you got parts of it wrong (because people will tell you). 2) You’ll increase the chances of hiring for “culture fit” without falling into the trap of toxic homogeneity where you just hire people like yourself under the guise of “culture fit”.

Dick Costolo (Partner at Index Ventures, former CEO of Twitter)
Pando: What Phil Libin learned from Dick Costolo, Steve Ballmer, and Jerry Yang

“You can’t preserve the culture, if you try to preserve it then you’re locking it into place, it starts to stagnate,” Libin said Dick Costolo told him. Costolo explained that the CEO’s job is not to preserve the culture, it’s to evolve it intentionally in a certain direction.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Values – AVC

Values matter. A lot. In a hypercompetitive world where technology eats at every advantage you have over time it is good to have unique and distinct values that you live as a company. That’s a form of differentiation that is not easily copied. It matters and is at the core of building great companies. The kind of companies I like to talk about when people ask me about my best investments.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
What I Have Learned From Kickstarter – AVC

Maybe the most important lesson I have taken from Kickstarter is that you have to build your company in your own mold. There is no one right way to do it, as much as the advice giving pundits (me included) would tell you otherwise.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
How To Be In Business Forever: Week Three – AVC

Mercenaries have no place in your company and your culture. Doubters are a bit different. You certainly don’t want to create a culture of “yes maam” in your company. So some doubting is healthy. But it should be out in the open. The doubts should be expressed upfront and they should be discussed and debated. But once the decisions have been made, everyone needs to get behind them. Ongoing doubting is not helpful to a culture.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
How To Be In Business Forever: Week Three – AVC

So if you want to build a business that lasts, you need a big and long vision and you need to be a leader who can inspire the team to believe in the vision and to believe in you. You need to hire folks who will stick around for the long haul and you need to be open to the doubts and doubters. But if they keep doubting, you need to part company with them. Don’t hire mercanaries. They won’t work no matter how hard you try.

Scott Kurnit (Founder & CEO @ Keep)
MBA Mondays: Guest Post From Scott Kurnit – AVC

Many cultural imperatives are the same at every company. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write them down and socialize them, but come up with the 3 or 4 that make your company special, that make someone want to join your company… or not. Your people ARE your culture. The culture quickly takes on a life of its own.

Scott Kurnit (Founder & CEO @ Keep)
MBA Mondays: Guest Post From Scott Kurnit – AVC

Culture was extra important to the About model since our business needed to get big fast, but it also showed me that defining a culture sooner than later builds the best business foundation. It seems so obvious, but out of 150 start-up CEOs I’ve discussed this with I found only three who pre-determined their culture. That’s crazy!

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Who is us?

Who is us?
When you build a tribe or a movement, you’re asking people to join you.
To become, “one of us.”
That means, though, you need to be really clear who ‘us’ is. Not just who am I joining, but what does it mean to be one of you?

Peter Thiel (Co-Founder & Partner at Founders Fund)
Contently Founder Shane Snow ’10JRN Interviews Peter Thiel – YouTube

One of the things I’ve heard, I don’t know if its true is — If you have three really good friends at the company you’re working at, you’re likely to stay indefinitely. If you have zero good friends at the company you’re working at, you’re at high risk of turnover.

Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder & Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
How to Minimize Politics in Your Company – Ben’s Blog

Build strict processes for potentially political issues and do not deviate—Certain activities attract political behavior. These activities include: (1) Performance evaluation and compensation (2) Organizational design and territory (3) Promotions