An Entrepreneur Three Core Values

May 21st, 2009 by jeremychone

So, here we go again; I am starting my second venture. The first one, Sportner, did not work as expected and, thanks to some discipline, I managed to fail fast.  Learning from this great experience, I am co-starting a new one, I will talk more about what IntelliJuris actually does later, but for today, I wanted to reiterate my core values going into this venture.

As well explained in the “Built to Last” book, core values can be a critical factor in the success or failure of an organization. Having been a player in this industry for more than 10 years now, I also strongly believe that core values need to be openly defined and shared, and we need to remind ourselves of them. They often tend to be relegated to the shadowy depths of the hiring binder or put on corporate accessories. 

 “Build to Last” also has a nice equation defining the relationship between Core Values and Core Ideology:

Core Ideology = Core Values + Purpose

I truely like this formula, and today, I will define and share our core values. They are only three of them:

Honesty: The hard one.

While this value might seem too obvious to state, and one which could be taken for granted, it is probably the hardest of all to attain. The hard part is not to be honest with others, which I think most people are (in most respects), but rather to be honest with oneself.

For example, in business, we have all had or at some point will face the temptation of bending the truth in our favor. Most of the time, it will even work. This can manifest itself by inflating some numbers, forgetting others, making artificial product families, justifying new products just for internal competition, or pushing an organizational bias strategy company wide. While these actions might look intrinsically dishonest, I do think they can be taken by relatively honest individuals. The issue is that sometimes, people get caught up in the game, forget to be honest with themselves, and just yield to the “picture painting” enticement, which consists of painting the best possible picture with some well placed defects to make it seem real (this is often called “spinning”). In short, they forget to ask themselves: “Do  I really believe in it?”.

I am deliberately using strong words on this topic, because I think "spinning" is the biggest corporate virus today, which slowly but surely inhibits the growth of organizational creativity, while rewarding the ones that spread it. My hope is that by placing honesty – with ourselves and with others – at the forefront of IntelliJuris’ core values, we can neutralize or at least slow down the spread and reach of this disease. One thing important to realize though, is that we can all catch it!

Passion: The fun one.

This is the easy and fun one. I do think, as many do, that passion is critical to the success of a company. One way to put it is that passion with focus drives talent, and talent is the source of innovation. As Paul Graham points out in his essay “Mind the Gap,” “One person could be 100 times as productive as another.” This is probably even truer today, in our technology industry, where, given the wealth of freely available technology and services, the real business values are becoming more in the composition of services rather than in the building of one. As elaborated in “The Tipping point”, small things can have a big impact, and finding these small things does require talent.

Discipline: The not so fun one.

While this one might sound obvious and little bit harsh, I think that real discipline is critical to building a successful business. Too many times, I have seen organizations with great a great talent pool not really performing at their maximum because of lack of discipline. One reason is that discipline often gets confused with process, procedures, and paperwork, or even is regarded as opposed to agility and creativity. I think it could not be further from the truth.  I actually think that the right kind of discipline enables agility and creativity, and reduces process and paperwork. Real discipline is more about a state of mind or a working style than procedures. Also, I think that discipline is as critical to execution as passion is to innovation. And, while some might disagree with me, ideas are cheap and execution is everything; hence the importance of discipline. (“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” ~ Seneca)

So, here we go, a raw look at our core values. At some point, we will also go over our anti-values, which are, in my mind, as important.

7 Responses to “An Entrepreneur Three Core Values”

  1. Flow » Blog Archive » Daily Digest for May 22nd - The zeitgeist daily Says:

    [...] An Entrepreneur Three Core Values — 7:55pm via Google [...]

  2. Jeff Lindsay Says:

    Well said! Many rely on passion alone to pursue their dream, but honesty and discipline are essential as well. Honesty demands facts, fair appraisals, consideration of data, analysis of risks, and even legal issues (i.e., is there a patent in the way?). But even with honesty and passion, many great ideas die because of poor execution.

    Execution includes having the right people and the right skills. Venture capital folks, in considering a business to invest, tend to look at the leadership team first, even before they consider the merits of the business model and the product or service. If the team lacks the skills needed for success, a brilliant idea is likely to be poorly executed and will fail.

  3. Jeremy Chone Says:

    Agree, right people at the right place is very important.

    I also agree that VCs tend to reduce risk by betting on well known entities, but more than often, people that did it once cannot do it again. Joost is a good example of this. I would bet that if the Twitter founders try to do something else, despite the fact that they will get backed up by big VCs, they might not create the expected result.

  4. Mark Nolan Says:

    What a great quote: “Ideas are cheap and execution is everything.”

    Gotta put that one on twitter ;-)

    Thanks for the awesome article.


  5. Jeremy Chone Says:

    Tx Mark.

  6. Jeremy Chone Says:

    BTW, honesty cost you sometime to be censored see:

  7. My Drama Failure | Bits And Buzz, by Jeremy Chone Says:

    [...] are not many things I can improve on to be a good drama-tech-blogger. Honesty (#4)  is part of my core values, and I would not trade it for anything (I have already lost a few opportunities on this, so I am [...]