When I read startup news, it pits every one of us against growth. Companies are getting described based on growth in funding, growth in product, growth in customers, growth in hiring, growth in partnerships…
And this makes complete sense. As Paul Graham reminds us: “A startup is a company designed to grow fast. Being newly founded does not in itself make a company a startup. Nor is it necessary for a startup to work on technology or take venture funding, or have some sort of “exit.” The only essential thing is growth. Everything else we associate with startups follows from growth.”
I, and most of you reading this – I’m sure, have been mesmerized by this phenomenon of growth. And by mesmerized, I sometimes mean paralyzed, intimidated, or scared.
This year we celebrate 5 years working on Lessonly. And after a half-decade, I feel more urgency than I ever have to grow faster, but feel less baggage and more clarity than I’ve ever had.
I’ve wrestled with the topic of growth with my best friend and CEO, Max Yoder. I’ve philosophized with my wife, gotten inspiration from our team, all trying to understand why? Why go for growth? While I acknowledge that there’s a lot of answers to that question, one realization in particular has become an especially motivating force for me. Lately, I’ve wanted to be sharper and win and grow faster than I ever have. And thankfully, it’s not headlines. It’s not recognition. It’s not awards. And it’s not because we’re a startup and it’s what we’re “supposed” to do. It’s all internal.
The realization I’ve come to is that company growth means we all get the opportunity to hand-select a team that brings us pride. We’re constantly drafting talent and culture that we think will make us better and challenge us. At every new stage of the company, we get to keep adding. When done carefully, drafting the absolute best team has been an incredible thing.
My athletics brain may tarnish this perspective, but a team that is driving to accomplish great things, together, ends up creating transformation for each individual. I venture to say, five years at Lessonly have changed me drastically for the better, and will continue to do so. For the folks who’ve dedicated significant chapters of their lives to Lessonly, my dream is they would all would say the same. We will look back, and we will believe these chapters shaped us.
The key ingredient has been to continually challenge. “We challenge ourselves,” is a core value at Lessonly because when you collectively challenge, you learn and grow faster. Winning feels more meaningful. You’re better at work, and you’re better outside of work to the people you love.
So keep growing. Not because it’s what you’re supposed to do. Do it because you are inspired to keep drafting the most incredible team. One where you come in as one person, and leave as a different one. Win and learn from losses. And keep going. Because when you reach the finish line, you may be tired and you may feel beaten, but you won’t regret the team and the experiences that changed you.
The Lessonly team is growing this year. Let us know if you think you’d fit in!