The importance of values & expectations on day one of a startup

Our thoughts on values and expectations at Ad Reform

In my experience working in a few early stage startups I’ve learned that it’s incredibly easy to get distracted both individually and as a company. Every day is chaos to some extent, and the pressure/stress/speed can be overwhelming at times. Staying focused on the mission, goals, tasks, and values can be super difficult. Making a point to set transparent values and expectations is incredibly important to the success of the company. Living them out is even more important. Think of the successful companies you admire most. Chances are they got this right early on.

When Kyle and I started Ad Reform this year, one of the first priorities was to spend a half-day discussing why we were doing this, who we were doing this for, and what our values were. This would define what we built, who we built it for, how we built it, who we hired to build it, and hopefully the day-to-day culture of the company. Our first value is building trust through transparency, so I figured I’d start now by sharing :)

Build trust through transparency

  • Communicate more or less? More!
  • We’re all in this together

Practice empathy and humility

  • Less ego, more we go (Kyle is a rapper on the side, so…)
  • Give without expectations

Work with grit

  • Do things with passion, perseverance, and drive

Ask why

  • Don’t rely on conventional wisdom just because it’s conventional
  • Assumptions are unknowns masquerading as knowns

Explore, create, and have fun

  • Make space to tinker and experiment
  • Try weird, new things

Empower people

  • Build for autonomy

Default to action

  • When in doubt, act

Do more with less

  • If you work with Grit, you can do this :)

Focus on the experience — of customers, partners, and colleagues

  • Don’t build a bigger menu, build better menu items
  • “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” — Einstein

Embrace diversity of people, personalities, and ideas


I have to say, I learned a lot of these values through working with Kyle in the past. He embodies all of them, and anyone who knows him would agree. As an entrepreneur, surrounding yourself with better/smarter people makes all the difference.