January 14, 2010

Lonely at the end? Yes, so keep a few of the pirates…

Derek Johnson is a young entrepreneur here in Bellingham who’s been setting the world on fire with Tatango and his “cover the earth” social media strategy. I think he’s going places.

Today he posted about how there’s now not one other person at Tatango who was there at the start.

It’s true, the people who are a perfect fit for a startup or small business often don’t fit when the business grows. People and businesses change. Employees who like or thrive in the chaos of a startup don’t always like the structure and organization of a profitable business. And the people who work well in a stable, profitable business often don’t have the attitude (or the courage!) to work on a shaky startup.

I joke that Logos in the early days was staffed by pirates. We were a motley crew of ignorant youth, corporate refugees, failed entrepreneurs, dropouts, disc jockeys, roofing salesmen… a lot of people you wouldn’t have hired, myself included.

Today people apply to work at Logos because they’ve heard we’re a strong company with good pay and benefits that treats people well. (It’s true! And we’re hiring!) And we hire people with relevant education, experience, and a track record.

It works well for everybody. And there’s less yelling in the office.

But some of those pirates were amazing people. Some could do tech support, write code, and fix the company van, all in one day. One built a loft for developers to sleep in, up under the eaves, and baked a blackberry pie from berries picked behind the office.

And most importantly, they weren’t afraid to speak the truth.

18 years later, we’ve managed to hold onto a few of the pirates. 2 of 3 founding partners are still here, along with some family members, employee #1, and a few from the second year.

And I love these people. (Most days.) Because they will do whatever needs to be done. Because they do remember that time when… Because they never call me ‘sir’. And because they will fearlessly speak the truth when others keep their mouths shut.

Derek, it’s going to get even more lonely. As you move from success to success, which I am sure you will, you’ll find more and more people who tell you what you want to hear. People will join you because you’re a meal-ticket. They’ll work for you because they want a stable, safe job. And that’s great.

But keep an eye out for those few crazy pirates who can grow with you. People you can count on today, and tomorrow, and who will be there to give it to you straight when no one else will. Even when you don’t want to hear it.

Comments

  1. Great post. Arrrrrr.
    And btw, does 24 years old even qualify as a “young” entrepreneur anymore? Sigh…

  2. Inspiring, great post. Sharing this with colleagues. Wasn’t aware Bob had a personal blog.

  3. Well said. Yeah, it gets lonely at times, but such is the life of an entrepreneur. Besides, if we aren’t going to do it, who is?

  4. Linda Rojo-Schmidt :

    Hope you still have the baker, …”baked a blackberry pie from berries picked behind the office…”
    Visited my husband aunt,Mary Beth Lindeman, Postal worker rural, Bellingham. Great time in June, & went to dirt speedway. Saw your Logo’s depute at Hawaii Island Ministry Conference 2010, Aloha :)

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