Core values are the foundation of a startup. Here’s how we made ours come to life.

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

As a group of founders of both successful and unsuccessful previous companies, we’ve learned tremendous lessons about things that work and we’ve definitely learned a lot about things that don’t work! With all of that experience, we’ve come to truly believe that a company’s values sit at the fulcrum of the organization. We believe that having a set of core values acts almost as guard rails for the team, decisions we’re making, how we gauge and evaluate our performance, and how we decide to evolve our products. That’s why we set out to establish our value from the very beginning.

Another big lesson we’ve learned the hard way is that your culture can not be prescribed. Your people make the culture. It can not be a top-down thing, or strictly bottom-up either. It’s both. A company’s culture is reflected in how we act when we don’t have guests in the office AND how we act when we have guests in the office. It’s how we build trust and safe places when no one is looking and how we practice what we preach. That is precisely why we established our values as a group. Our values shouldn’t reflect one person’s views and beliefs, they should reflect the company’s views and beliefs, and a company is made up of all of the people that are working to build, grow, and maintain it.

Establishing values as a team

It was an incredible experience to work through our values as a team. We had some really great early chats about why values matter and how we’ve worked within value sets that really helped to establish and guide the successes (or failures) at the places we’ve all come from. Then we had everyone at Thematic contribute ideas to the exercise through anonymous feedback (Google surveys are your friend!).

After we gathered that feedback, we processed it, looked into the deeper meaning behind some of the suggestions, had another healthy discussion and distilled the feedback down to a first pass at what our values might look like. After a few more passes at refining them as an entire organization, we cemented them into our six core values.

I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we’re proud of the team and the values we’ve developed together and wanted to share them to serve as a public disclosure and communicate our company’s commitment to these values. While they will surely evolve as our company evolves, they are the foundation of the work we’re doing every day and we’re constantly working to find ways to weave them into the fabric of our company.

Thematic’s 6 Core Values

Committed to the Community (For Creator by Creator)

  • Always fight to do the best thing for our community
  • Listen to our community as we build
  • Foster relationships and trust through value and transparency
  • Engage with the community (both on and off the platform)

“We” first, not “Me” first

  • Be a champion for the team
  • If the team wins, everyone wins
  • Grow together through open communication

Be Storytellers

  • Start with WHY
  • Build empathy : try to feel how others feel
  • Emotion creates motion

Focus on Creating

  • Start Small, think HUGE
  • Focus on the craft and enjoy the journey
  • Cultivate opportunity and drive innovation
  • Leave this world / community / code better than you found it

Own Growth

  • Be endlessly curious
  • Have the courage to turn failure into triumph
  • Learn more : Know less
  • Develop & Educate — the community and yourself
  • Become comfortable with the uncomfortable

Commit

  • Bring the best of you to the team, everyday
  • Be healthy; if you aren’t at your best, you can’t bring your best
  • Follow through
  • Mentor — Coaching goes both ways
  • Own it — don’t just do the work

Now that we have established our baseline, we’ll integrate these into everything we do. Our “all hands” meetings will begin with icebreakers rooted in their messaging, we’ll recognize our monthly rockstar (employee of the month) based on exemplification of one of the values, and we’ll measure our team and individual performance using these values as a lens. We’re even finding ways to slip them into loading screens, adding them to presentations, and identifying creative ways to continue to weave them into the fabric of Thematic’s existence.

Do you work at a company with core values? We’d love to learn about how you’ve woven your values into your day-to-day successfully and unsuccessfully! Connect with us on twitter at @hellothematic