As our distributed team grew from four to seven people over the span of a few months, I decided to help the company generate a set of values upon which we could find common ground and make future decisions.

To avoid an environment of organizational cognitive dissonance, where public platitudes clash with actual behavior, I took a bottom-up approach. During a company retreat in the summer of 2016, I led a “Mountains and Valleys” exercise to help my colleagues document their personal values. I then facilitated a discussion of the principles we shared.

After aggregating my colleagues’ writing into a unified statement and privately asking each team member for feedback, we published our core values on the company homepage with unanimous consensus.

Everyone is worthy of honor and respect.

From our customers to our colleagues, everyone with whom we interact deserves a basic level of decency. We place ourselves in other people's shoes and adjust our behavior to treat them in a way that honors their dignity.

We help each other be our best.

We want to empower each other to do our best work and help each other feel like valued members of the team. When we provide critique or feedback to our colleagues, we try to build them up, not tear them down.

We always have room to make progress.

No matter how far we've come, there's always room for us to be better. We set a high bar for everything we do and aspire to excellence. But once we achieve a seemingly impossible goal, we keep going.

We strive to stay curious.

We question the way things are as a way to engage with the world. We actively seek information and experiences that might challenge our perspectives.

We can't do our best work without having time to live.

We are passionate about our mission and what we do, but we recognize that our work does not define us. We value work/life balance and give each other the space and time to attain soundness of mind.

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Every once in a while, I'll write to you with something I've been thinking about, alongside some cultural recommendations.