Evidence of a successful start-up culture; lessons for all of us

I recently attended a Boston Enterprise Sales MeetUp. The topic was “Make Your Sales Team Rockstars!- Continuous Sales Development”.

One of the guest panelists was Mary Rogul, VP of Enterprise Sales at Boston- based Mautic. She was previously with HubSpot and was a key sales player in their early stage growth.

Mary made a comment that really resonated with me.  My interpretation or paraphrasing: the small teams in her early stage start-ups are in a figurative war, where every single team member must be 100% committed to the company’s survival.  They are on a mission that must achieve success, despite the constant and inevitable setbacks when trying to create a new brand, viable product, initial clients, best practices, etc..  WOW!  Talk about a powerful metaphor, with such words as “War”, “Survival”, etc.

Hearing these words and feeling her sentiments made me realize the amount of super heavy lifting that must occur to achieve success. The emotional exhaustion of trial and error must be unbelievable for all of those involved.

It also made me empathize with a start-up’s insistence on every single team member not only being competent, but also having the required level of passion, team chemistry, and resilience, and energy level.

As a small business owner, I experience the highs and lows every week, but like an individual contributor sales person, I usually carry the emotional load in my own head and heart.  I only hope to be able to capture the “Win together, Lose together” culture that Mary and Frank Brilliant, CRO of Evaluate Ltd., espoused during this panel discussion.

I suspect successful sport teams have the same mantra, leadership, and cultures.

It requires a special leadership team ability to identify, attract, and motivate the right type of talent to create such a culture.

If you want these type of endorphin highs, be sure to find a company and culture where accountability is required but also has the symptoms of “Win together, Lose together”. Do you see words and symbols in your potential employer’s blogs, posters, web site, etc. that truly reflect a team orientation, and where a culture of success is the ONLY option? Do the hiring manager and CEO use words like “we”, “passion”, “commitment”, “comeback from setbacks as a team”, etc.? If not, stay away, because the lows are too difficult to go it alone.

If you are a leader with a start-up, do your words and actions demonstrate 100% faith in your team members, or are you sending cues of pointing blame or losing faith in select team members? You may want to proactively convey your concern in a timely, direct, one-on-one, non-emotional manner to your peers and subordinates. Otherwise, collective anger, resentment, and paranoia will develop … super dangerous emotions when dodging bullets in a foxhole together and deciding how and when to advance or retreat.








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