Constructing the Greenhouse
Tony Hsieh, entrepreneurial visionary and late founder of Zappos, once compared building a new business to constructing a greenhouse. Many entrepreneurs, he quipped, aim to be the biggest and brightest plant in their business. Rather than being the most beautiful plant, he argued that founders should instead focus on being the architect of a strong greenhouse. A founder (and the founding team) are responsible for building a foundation and a structure where ideas and people can thrive.
At Carousel, we know that the early days of a startup are where workplace norms, culture, and values are shaped. Our values, we believe, will provide intentional guide rails as we build, grow, and learn.
When building Carousel’s mission and values, we wanted to make sure that our values are lived values, i.e., values that feel weaved into every decision we make and every interaction we have, rather than something that is just on paper. When we interact with stakeholders or bring on new team members, we hope that they inherently understand our values (through our actions as a business and as individuals).
For people looking to construct their own mission and values, we wanted to share some of our primary questions we discussed. We spent significant time pondering:
- Why we exist
- What we are doing
- How our values and mission are lived-out on a daily basis
Then we asked questions like:
- What impact do we want to have?
- How do we want to work?
- How do we want to treat each other and our stakeholders?
- How do our written words translate to our everyday work?
Those prompts helped us form the following Mission and Values:
We’re on a mission to make social-emotional learning fun, engaging, and a part of our everyday lives. Like exercise, we believe a little bit of SEL practice daily can be transformative to our individual and collective wellbeing.
Our team comes from all different walks of life, but we agree on these core elements to being great team members, great community members, and great human beings:
Impact above all else
We focus on impact over profit. We believe in doing what’s right over what’s easy. We’re a Public Benefit Corporation, which means that everyone involved with Carousel (from the investors to the founders) considers the economic, environmental, and social implications of everything we do.
Live out our offering
We develop and work on our social-emotional competencies as individuals, as a company, as teammates, and as fellow human beings. Yes, this means we play Carousel together as a company! We believe self-wellness will lead to workplace wellness. We lead with empathy, recognizing that every human is the product of their past and present situation.
Re-envision the social network
We use our technology to reimagine online and real-world social networks that foster healthy, authentic connections for oneself and others. The data generated by our platform is and will always be anonymized and made free and universally accessible. We believe this data can enable researchers to learn more about how SEL practice drives outcomes.
Love the communities we’re in
We’re eager to help anyone who asks for it; life doesn’t have to be a competition. We listen to all of our stakeholders, and we recognize the humanity in all people. We give back to improve the overall SEL community and prioritize the needs of educators, mentors, and students. We seek to build a company and work culture reflective of the beloved communities in which we serve, work and live — — one where people can come as they are, where everyone is welcome, and whose contributions are recognized.
Relentless pursuit of improvement
Whether for ourselves, our product, or our company, we believe there is always room for improvement. But we don’t forget about our humanity in this pursuit. We value outcomes over outputs. Each of us takes ownership of our areas and our results. We choose where & how we work most effectively, and we lean on others when we need support. We believe that “everything is figureoutable,” and we look at development and operations as learning opportunities. We listen to our customers and stakeholders, listen to each other, and listen to our gut. We always keep moving forward.
In future posts, we will be elaborating on the how & why of each of our values. Does one of these values speak to you? What has your experience been building a solid greenhouse? We’d love to hear from you!