Startups, people and getting big

It's amazing how things turn around to provide meaning right back to you. This is specially true regarding what one might call "useless knowledge". Of course, "useless" alone is the wrong expression unless it's followed by "for whom?".

Case in point: my until recently unexplained passion with startup culture, which has defined my views of the world, the work we do and the lives we lead for the last 3 years or so. Some honest questions that always filled my head: why startups? Why focus on small? Why does informal matter? Why elevate the underdogs, the rogue warriors, the kids wearing hoodies and slippers? What's so wrong with suits, with big, with all things corporate?

Until a couple days back, out of nowhere (if you ignore the subconscious homework our brain loves to do), it just hit me. It's not really about the companies or how big and small they are right now or expect to be in their 5-year plan. It's about how that affects our expectations and desires, our attitudes and relationships, our understanding of the world, and ultimately our results.

Turns out I'm obsessed with startup culture because I'm actually obsessed with people. And what better place to learn about people than the extreme environment of a move-fast-break-things(-and-then-fix-them) company? It's no secret we show our true selves in the direst conditions, where the stress leads to bad calls, the right process and solution are yet to be defined and safe is a lie.

The small, informal underdogs also tend to be more flexible than big behemoths, which makes them if not stronger, at least more resilient, a key feature for mid to long-term success. Sure, you get stability, but there are just some things you lose once you get big, specially in terms of values. Getting big, either way, is just another subjective metric for success, which should also be followed by "for whom?".

Companies should definitely learn more from the human side of everything. But boy do they also teach a lot about ourselves.