There are many stark differences between the average corporate culture and the typical startup culture. The hours are drastically different. In startups – at least the ones that succeed – the concept of 9 to 5 is scoffed at. Roles are often less defined and it’s not uncommon for one person to wear many hats. Just like the 9 to 5 mentality, “that isn’t in my job description” doesn’t fly. Because of the types of people startups attract, expectations of leaders are different. Renegade leaders who might be promptly fired and publicly humiliated in a corporate setting are often accepted, and even exalted, in the startup world.
We were graced with a perfect example of this in a blog post by Fab founder and CEO Jason Goldberg this morning. But first, some background: Fab, one of the most exciting e-commerce startups in recent history, hit a rough patch and has been forced to cut operating costs by two-thirds in the past five to six months and has reduced a staff of 750 to 300. So how has Goldberg reacted to this? Well, to begin, he wrote a post titled “It’s a fucking startup. Why are you here?” In it, he explained to Fab employees that things are about to get serious:
It used to be that people joined Fab because they wanted to hop on the rocket ship. We were the hot company that everyone wanted to climb onboard for the ride.
Now, it’s a fucking startup.
Golberg asked all Fab employees to seriously consider why they were there, whether they were fully committed to getting the company back on track and to let him know in writing. While the language and message may seem offensive to some, Fab employees seemed to rally behind their leader (at least from what Goldberg shared). Responses ranged from simply “I am here because I am a builder” to 170+ word answers explaining how adversity is the best teacher.
The post ended with a simple but powerful message:
It’s a fucking startup.
We’re here to Build.
How do you think this would go over at Walmart, Ford or another large corporation? Why does a post that would mean career suicide in the corporate world serve a meaningful purpose in the startup world? What does that mean about the difference in cultures?