Take pride or go home

One of the biggest changes we’ve made at CrystalMD in recent times is to replace all prior constraints about how we do things with a simpler idea: we’ll only work on things that we can take pride in.

I chose this over many of the other ideas such as:

  • “Build something people want” (from YC)
  • “Ship early, ship often”
  • “Work hard, play hard”

I don’t think there is anything wrong with the above ideas and they can all coexist. So why is taking pride more important than all the items on the list above? I’ll offer four main reasons:

  1. Pride makes start-ups an emotional affair.
    It has been my experience than if you gave me two designers, the designer who takes more pride in his work will obsess more over his work. And I believe that people who obsess over their work do better work than ones who don’t. If you run a factory, this might not work for you. But at a start-up where you are often limited on resources and can only take so many chances, quality mattersĀ a lot. Someone who takes pride in their work will feel “pain” at some level every time she does unexceptional work. Not only is she better than Mr. Oblivious whose work you have to constantly fix but because she feelsĀ pained by bad work, she will go to great lengths to deliver exceptional work.
  2. Taking pride requires taking a stance.
    People who take responsibility and take a stance won’t always work out but they are more likely to act like adults. When they screw up, they will own up to it because in their mind, they failed themselves at some level before they failed the company. These people are a lot more likely to fix their problems and constantly improve themselves without needing to be pushed. And for some reason if they can’t do exceptional work, they’ll likely choose to go home before you even have to ask them.
  3. Sets a high bar for the organization
    Anyone with a ton of pride who does bad work(without realizing) will not survive that long at an organization that demands you take pride in your work. So am I saying that its better to work with someone who takes a lot of pride and does shitty work? I’d say yes, its better than hiring someone who only does shitty work. Why? Because someone who only does shitty work might slide by; someone who takes pride in shitty work will stick out like a sore thumb.
  4. Pride delivers regular doses of happiness
    A huge part of a start-up is being able to take blows. Taking pride is a way to manage the blows. It gives you permission to draw doses of satisfaction from things that do not always result in business success. It is this pride that lets you come in to work the following day and still keep going till you do get your next win.