I remember working at a startup on the East Coast clocking in 120 hour weeks of coding. Our company was hopelessly understaffed. We over-promised our customers and paid for it with sleep. While waiting for our code to compile and deploy, I would read about Google on the blogs.
Their inspirational success, their values and vision resonated with me. Over the next two months, I did everything I could to find a job there. I called friend of friends, searched LinkedIn and mined the alumni directory. I was turned down for product management and engineering roles because my GPA didn’t meet below the 3.5 minimum. But after some exuberant interviewing, I found a job in Online Sales and Operations. And I loved it.
I was thrilled to find what I had wished for: a point of view. “Launch early, launch often.” “Focus on the user, and all else wil follow.” And many others. I found out first hand that the most exciting companies to work for are the ones who have a vision of markets changing, of products rising to meet those needs and of the opportunity created when they meet.
Vision is the soul and identity of a company. It permeates a company’s culture and percolates into every decision. Vision provides clarity. And making progress toward a vision is intoxicating. Jason Freed articulates the importance of vision as it relates to software in his book, Getting Real. His point rings true for software as much as it does for companies as a whole.
The best software has a vision. The best software takes sides. When someone uses software, they’re not just looking for features, they’re looking for an approach. They’re looking for a vision. Decide what your vision is and run with it. – Jason Freed, 37Signals
“Where will the market be in 2 years? And where will your company be?” These are the questions I ask in pitch meetings when I’m looking to understand a founder’s vision. Having a vision helps you find others who resonate with that vision for recruitment, partnerships and investors.
Founders should communicate this vision every day inside and outside the company. And in the board room. The best run board meetings (and companies) are the ones in which the CEO has a vision, a recommendation, a point of view.
Get religion about your company. Find your vision, your angle, your strategy, your point of view.