How to be an exemplary early stage startup employee

A few thoughts on how to do well as an employee at an early stage startups:


  1. It is ALWAYS better to try and fail then not try at all: Risk taking resulting in failure is punished at most other organization, not at early-stage startups. Take the risk!

  2. Ask for forgiveness, not permission: Ask for forgiveness, not permission. Ask for forgiveness, not permission. Ask for forgiveness, not permission.

  3. You Own You: No one is looking to do your work for you. You get to own you and do your work. Don’t know how? No one else does! So just do it (see number 1!)

  4. Be grabby for work: First be exemplary in your main circle of work, but then look at adjacent circles. What can be grabbed and owned? There are always things that fall between the cracks at early stage startups and you can set your own path if you are grabby for undone work.

  5. MVP yourself: Which person is your MVP in the company? Who is on the MVP shortlist? Would you yourself appear on it? If not, what are the 3 things you can start doing today that the MVP shortlist people do that you do not do? Start doing those NOW!

  6. Understand the importance of speed in goals: Goals at a startup are not just the number to hit but ALSO the velocity. Faster results are always better than slower results because we can learn and iterate. Constantly ask yourself a version of the Peter Thiel line, what are your 5 year goals? Well, how are you going to achieve them in 6months?

  7. Surprised smiles all around: The emotional interaction in most other companies is expectation resulting in acceptance or critique. At early-stage startups its possible to flip the script and by being grabby for work, you will constantly see surprised smiles all around.

  8. Agile is iteration: Agile is not small tasks, its not kanban, its not standups or releases, its iteration. Iterate!

  9. Planning is a compass not a speed bump: Love me some planning. Do the plan. Think deeply on it. Then throw it in the bin once its no longer useful. Plans give you general direction, but don't hide behind them, things constantly change.

  10. Open heart: Get into it with people, let things be spicy! But if your heart is open you can really get to the meat of things and make progress.

  11. Do the annoying things first: What 5 things will make this week successful? Damn, 3 of those are a pain and I really don’t want to do them. Hence do those by Tuesday.

  12. Learn from people: No hiding, talk to people in the company, out of the company, anywhere, everywhere, be a learning sponge. Get insights all the time.

  13. Use the product: Talk to users, use the product, talk to users, use the product, talk to users, use the product, talk to users, , use the product and TALK TO USERS


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