How to Nurture a Productive Company Culture in a Blockchain Startup

We feel that keeping a company culture a secret is inherently selfish and unreasonable. Here’s what makes us, and what might some day make your company special and tight.

Here at Soniq, we take huge pride in the company culture that we nurture. We can honestly say that our entire merry bunch of hard-workers wholeheartedly agrees that this is the best way to run a startup. Honesty, respect, sacrifice and team spirit are the pillars of Soniq and we are willing and more than happy to share our keys to success with you.

The text below is literally in our company database and we refer to it on a frequent basis. This is not something we came up by ourselves, but a result of through research and a ton of collective wisdom. It’s a friendly reminder of what makes a business team strong and efficient.

About procedures

Company goals > procedures

Feel free to break the rules (sometimes) if it brings the company one step closer to our goal. But be very, very careful about it and think long-term. Sometimes a short-term gain may result in a long-term loss. A step forward taken without following a process may result in two steps back.

People > everything else

Be considerate towards your colleagues and treat them the same way you’d like them to treat you. Any kind of abusive behavior is not welcome. This is the no1 rule that overrides all the other rules because people > processes and rules. Treat your team members like they are family.

Examples of this rule:

· Procedures say that you should announce a day off at least 24hrs before, but John had a family emergency. Fuck the procedures and have empathy for John.

Don’t try to exploit the rules

This is not a huge corporation but a small startup. You can’t exploit the rules and use politics to wiggle your way out of trouble.

“Look I did follow the rules, but I interpreted them like this”.

Your colleagues will notice it and your manager will notice it. Since this is not a socialist state, there will be consequences.

Being a professional

Respect the company

The company is paying your salary and giving you an opportunity. Working here is your own free choice. Talking about opportunities and working conditions you can get somewhere else is useless.

Respect your job…

When you took the job you made a promise and that should come before everything else. Your errands, side-hustles, and hobbies shouldn’t hinder with your performance on the job. Especially if it means skipping work or going home early when your colleagues need you. You’re either full-time on the bus or you’re off the bus.

But don’t be a workaholic

Don’t work more than 8 hours daily unless it’s absolutely necessary. You shouldn’t take pride in working so hard that you don’t have a personal life. Nobody cares how hard you work. Building a business is a marathon and not a sprint, same as everything else in life. Read the Slight Edge and adopt that philosophy.

Always try to solve the problem first before asking for help

Let me Google that for you, bro. Are you making a conscious decision to ask before you try, because you think it may save everybody’s time? Or are you too lazy to do some research or read a book?

Accept feedback

Seek to understand before being understood. Try to understand why someone is giving you negative feedback. Are they angry? Are they hurt? Are they afraid? What do they want with this? Can we make this into a win-win situation? Do I care about it so much that I can’t change it? Is it important?

The world doesn’t revolve around you. People don’t hate you, they either don’t care about you, or want to help you.

Learn to say NO

It’s your responsibility to filter the tasks you receive. It’s your fault if you fail because you were unqualified or overburdened . Learn to say no, and always explain why.

Your task is your responsibility and nobody else’s

I can’t stress this enough. If you committed to do something it’s your responsibility to make it happen. Make it happen! And after it’s done we can discuss the problems you experienced and the ways we can fix them. If you can’t make it happen, say it out loud! It’s much worse to have a problem and be silent until everybody gets angry than admitting you can’t do it. Everybody fails sometimes.

Don’t wait for instructions

If you need precise instructions for every single task you do, you are replaceable by Upwork. Enough said. Do research, read a book.

There’s always something to do

The only reason to chill on the job is if you want to chill on the job. Don’t use “I had nothing to do” as an excuse. Either admit you wanted to watch YouTube videos or start doing something useful. There’s always something to improve.

Always be honest about what you are doing

If you’re feeling down and want to play video games, it’s better to say it than to pretend you’re working. Honesty is essential at work.

Stick to your circle of competence

It’s easy to criticize someone else’s work. It’s even easier if it’s somebody with a different area of focus and skillset than your own. Are you sure you can do a designer’s job better than a designer or a developer’s job better than a developer? It’s ok to give honest feedback if you are asked, but you should give feedback to the result, not the person or his or her process. Read this article.

Remember this:

· Everyone thinks they know what good design looks like. They don’t. Design is a job and a vocation and it takes years to become an expert designer.
· Everyone thinks they could be better managers than their manager. Unless they get to lead a team. Then they start blaming the employees.

Keep learning

Which book related to your area of focus did you read this month? Which course did you watch? What interesting articles did you find? What events did you attend? If the answer is none, you better start now.

Working with people

When giving feedback, either solve the problem or propose the solution…

Smart people talk too much. A proper employee is smart and gets things done. If you always share opinions about others’ work but you don’t contribute yourself, you are not helping.

But always report the problems you’re having

If you experience or spot a problem DON’T BE SILENT, whatever that problem might be. Feel free to report stuff like:

· Bad processes that slow you down
· Bad managerial behavior
· Coordination problems
· Collaboration problems with your colleagues
· You feeling down about something that happened in the office
· Anything that’s keeping you from being the best version of yourself

If you don’t report a problem there’s a good chance that nothing will change. Are you willing to live with it?

Don’t hold grudges, express your emotions

It’s your responsibility to report if something’s bothering you. It’s NOT your manager’s or your colleagues’ responsibility to notice or read your mind. Nobody’s gonna get angry or hate you, it’s always better to tell the truth, even if it’s unpleasant. But make sure you remember the following:

Praise in public, criticize in private

Praising your colleague in front of everybody boosts everyone’s morale. But if you have something unpleasant to say, don’t yell and argue in front of everybody, discuss it in private. Also…

Don’t be rude

There are a thousand ways to tell the truth and only a few of them are rude. Don’t use abusive language, yell or insult. Give honest feedback, be direct with the truth and polite with your argument. Never attack the person, criticize a behavior. Examples:

BAD: You fucked up that job and I’m very angry. You should learn more about <insert something> and be more serious about your job.
GOOD: I didn’t like <this thing you did> because it <explain how it affected you>. It made me feel like <insert your emotion without abusive language>. Can we do something about that?

Respect your colleague’s focus

Always knock before entering. Always send a message before knocking. If headphones are on, I probably don’t wanna talk. A 2-minute interruption may result in an additional half an hour to get back into focus.

Pay attention

If somebody has to repeat the same thing to you more than twice, you are being disrespectful to that person. Pay attention, write it down, it’s not that hard.

Be responsive online

As much as you can. When you’re off work or too busy you should at least respond with “ I’m busy, can we do that later/tomorrow?”

About working at Soniq

Missed days ≠ days off

You get a day off only if you announce it up front and it’s approved by your colleagues and management. If you don’t show up or you’re unforgivably late it’s considered a missed day. Missed days are disrespectful towards your colleagues, unless you have a valid reason.

Move fast and break things…

We’re not NASA and we are not launching a space module to Mars. Nothing has to be perfect. Don’t err on the side of caution, take risks.

But respect the cult of quality!

Everything can be better. There is someone who does the job better than you. Every process can be improved and there are a million things you don’t know and should learn. Be mindful about the trade-offs you are making! If you are moving fast and breaking things be aware what the consequences are. Make those decisions with intent, not by mistake.

BAD: I fucked up because I was in a hurry to finish that and I didn’t know that could happen.
GOOD: I knew that this could happen, but I decided to move forward on purpose.

It’s ok to make mistakes

While you’re working, you’re making decisions all the time. When you make decisions, some of them will be bad and some of them will be good. Feel free to make mistakes and don’t take it personally. Nobody will judge you if you keep improving and learning. Only shameful mistakes are the ones you keep repeating and the ones that are the result of not thinking at all.

It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission

It’s ok to make a mistake, and it’s required to take responsibility for that mistake. Don’t make up excuses. Be brave, take risks and accept the consequences. Don’t wait for permission only so that you don’t get criticized in the future. He who dares wins.

About meetings

No side-conversations in meetings

Unless it’s an informal meeting. If we’re trying to figure something out together, pay attention! If you didn’t pay attention to important decisions, don’t use excuses afterwards.

No, you can’t get coffee

There’s way enough time to make coffee before the meeting starts. Same goes for food, toilet, phone calls. If it’s an emergency, ask for a break, don’t leave the room.

About PR

When in doubt, be honest

“This guy asked me about <project or event>, and I don’t know what to tell him”

There’s no need to ask your manager questions like this. We value radical transparency at Soniq. Always tell the truth, if it’s not confidential information like passwords or salaries. Use common sense.

Never disrespect anyone

Treat anyone you interact with while on the job with respect. No matter how rude they are, how stupid their question is, or how broken their English is (especially this).

We can shamelessly say that this is what makes our company special. However, we’re not gonna lie to you and say that following these guidelines is easy. Frankly, we break these ‘rules’ on a daily basis, hard as we try to avoid it. Without this moral compass, we’d absolutely be lost, but exercising it in tendency towards perfection is a hard and taxing job.

So what!

Nobody ever said it was or should be easy. Effort is what fuels any relationship, especially when it involves an entire startup of like-minded, but ultimately different people. Without a loving, nurturing and accepting environment of understanding and support, though, there is no happiness and, likewise, without such a relationship, there can never be business success.