How to Start a Startup: Lecture 10. Culture

Lecture 10 on culture
Brain Chesky and Alfred Lin

In this lecture Alfred Lin talks about the importance of maintain a culture within a company. Founder of Airbnb, Brian Chesky, talks about how maintaining culture made Airbnb the success it is today.


“Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your value becomes your destiny. “ -Ghandi

What is a culture?

A culture is the beliefs, customs, arts or anything else that belongs to a particular society, group, place or time. It is a way of thinking and behaving that exists within a place or an organization.

But what is a culture within a company?

A culture within a company or business works the same way. Everyday each member of a team is in pursuit of one goal or core value that the company is striving for.

Its important to have core values and appropriate behaviors put into place that employees and team members are working towards-the mission.

Why does it matter?

Principles: Maintaining a companies principles makes it easy to make decisions when falling back on original ideas or making new plans.

Alignment and Stability: Having a strong culture helps align the core values the company was built upon while providing stability for any backsets or downfalls.

Trust: Maintaining a companies culture and core values retains more employees by creating an environment of trust one another can rely and depend on.

Core Value “Cheat Sheet”
How does a company choose their core values?
1. As the leader, what personal values are the most important to you?
What do you look for in an employee as well as vise versa? Make sure to note what qualities and characteristics bad employees had previously.

2. What are the most imp values for business success?
Do your employees believe in your mission?

3. What values will you look for in your employees

4. What could never be tolerated?
What characteristics will not work well in your company?

5. Remember to incorporate your mission into your core values
Are your core values credible and uniquely tied to your mission?
Ex: If you previously had trouble working with arrogant people is a core value you instill within your company to be humble?

Core values should have meaning.
What values do your current employees identify with?
-The word teamwork could have many different meanings to different people. Know what your company means by requiring these values.
-Having in depth reasoning behind your companies core values will attract qualities you will want your future employees to have.

Constructing high performance teams.

Patrick Lencioni created a book on teamwork. By following his pyramid of accountability companies maintain their culture more effectively.

Make sure everyone is being held accountable for their responsibilities.

Interview your candidates: Do they have a good culture fit?
-Do they believe in the mission and want to follow it? Just because they are the smartest engineer in the world doesn’t’ t mean they will put their heart and soul into your company.

Don’t get out of shape
-You must evaluate performances on a daily basis. What people fail to do is work hard everyday. Maximum effort and performance should be a daily habit.
Three things they never tell you about culture.
1.They never tell you anything.
-No one ever stresses how important it actually is to maintain a culure.
2. It’s hard to measure.
Things that aren’t measured get discounted and forgotten. This leads to the downfalls of many startups.
3. It doesn’t pay off in the short term.
-Creating a culture makes a company hire and build more slowly. You have to make creating a culture an investment. If you don’t trust in your company in the long term then hire fast.

Why did Airbnb take five months to hire its first employee?
“The first one was like bringing in DNA. If we had one person come in who was successful we may have many more.”

Jun, 06, 2016