Know Thyself

Cre8tive Capital wants to ensure startup tech and tech enabled companies are well managed and stable. From our professional experiences with startup companies, we compiled the essential questions that we often see clients struggle with. Welcome to Part 1 of Building a Great Team:

How Can I Make My Business Successful? 

Many organizations are successful from the complementary skills of their founders, strong partnerships, or a shared passion. To achieve the ideal team, first understand “thyself.” Knowing oneself is the foundation in forming a team or organization. These structures are formed with people at the center. They need people to drive them forward, so understanding who you are and what motivates you is key.

How Do You Understand “Thyself”?

The first step to fully knowing yourself is to understand your “Why”. This is your purpose, cause, or belief and is your single driving motivation for acting in the capacity that you do. This passion is what fuels your ideas and motivates you into action. It can be anything, but knowing what it is and why it is important is a crucial part to understanding why you are doing all of this.

Next, is to discover your personality traits which will indicate your natural work preferences and fully understand the natural strengths and weaknesses you have developed over time as a person, team member, and entrepreneur. Figuring out your personality traits and how that fits together in the broader dynamic of a team is an important aspect to building a successful team. These traits can be discovered through assessment tools such as the Myers-Briggs. A tool such as the Gallup StrengthFinder can helpful in finding strengths and weaknesses. If you are able to focus on your natural strengths, both you and your organization will be more successful in the long term. Weaknesses can be addressed by finding team members that fill those deficiencies or even have strengths within those weak areas.

David and Jerry’s Story

David and Jerry began as two doctoral candidates in electrical engineering at Stanford University. They were involved in a project to create computer chips using computer-aided design and together found a distraction from their work spending their time surfing the Web which was still in its infancy. They enjoyed their time online but noticed one problem that continued to bother them. Although there were plenty of interesting sites for them to find while exploring, finding them in an unorganized Internet proved difficult.

David and Jerry would find a site that interested them only to be unable to locate it the next time they logged on. This happened time and time again. They came up with the idea to provide a kind of road map for online users due to their frustration in not being able to keep track of many of the great sites they had found. They put together a list of their favorite sites, organized them into topics, and then designed a search engine that made finding the right site as simple as typing in the right keywords.

In early 1994, “David and Jerry’s Guide to the Web” was the name of the first list of these sites they released so their friends could access this informal guide to what they thought were “cool” sites. As the list of sites grew, David and Jerry began figuring out ways to organize and divide them. Sites were first divided into categories, and  then subcategories were formed to provide more structure and ease in searching. David and Jerry’s Guide to the Web became known to the rest of the world as Yahoo!

David and Jerry understood their passions and what they excelled at which lead to them joining together to realize their goals. What started out as a simple interest in finding good websites became a multi-billion dollar business. Their shared passion for the internet and sharing what they found with each other led to founding one of the largest tech companies in the world.

Yahoo! was founded through the passion of David Filo and Jerry Yang, but passion is not all that it takes to build and sustain a company. Yahoo’s biggest rival was Google which was founded just two years later by two other Stanford doctoral students. It can be argued that the biggest difference between Google and Yahoo was Google’s focus on developing a culture of ingrained innovation.  Because both companies “knew thyself”, they both went out and hired professional CEO’s pretty early in their growth stage. Yahoo’s hired hand had final say in all major decisions while Google’s founders had just as much say in decision making as their professional CEO. For Yahoo, this contributed to the development of a culture that moved further away from the blueprint that David and Jerry originally developed for the company. Google is one of the largest companies in the world by market capitalization while Yahoo, once valued at more than $100B was recently sold to Verizon for $5B. Knowing thyself throughout the entire process of your venture is critical to its success at every step along the way.