version 1.1 of one of our most important foundational docs. Written during twenty--twenty think week - Raj & Pete, Lisbon, October 2020. We hope that these values direct you towards greatness in times of uncertainty, in areas of unknown.
- 🧪 Be a Catalyst
- 🏅 Do your Life's Best Work
- 💚 Have a Co-founder Mindset
- 👩🏫 Simultaneously Be a Student and a Teacher
- 🧘🏽♂️Trust in Radical Truth and Radical Transparency
- 😉 Find the Fun
🧪 Be a Catalyst
This is our core value. We expect everyone, from new to old, top to bottom, internally and externally to be a Catalyst. So, what does it mean to be a Catalyst?
Catalysts are agents of change.
A Catalyst is someone who can be put into any environment, and make it dramatically better. At a foundational level, they apply this mindset to their own lives. This means they are driven to continually self improve and grow. Next, they apply this catalytic thinking to situations beyond themselves. Asking the question, "How might I improve this environment?". They problem-solve to achieve goals, they catalyse decision making, they supercharge teams.
Stories (ask us!): PH: Founders' Nest, developing the Perfocal product team RK: OFF PISTE
🏅 Do your Life's Best Work
We founded twenty--twenty as a space to do our life's best work. A biome for great ideas to rise to the top. A dojo for individuals to skill up immensely. A platform for teams to sync up and break records. A world-class team of company builders.
We only have a limited amount of time on this planet, so let's not waste it doing mediocre things! Let's fill it with greatness, meaning, balance and fun!
Consider a single person striving to do their life's best work. Now imagine the emergent properties of putting a bunch of these people together. Aspirational people will attract more aspirational people. Teams of Catalysts will cheer Catalysts that are going beyond their comfort zone. A positive momentum will rise, and we'll create an environment where work gets increasingly fulfilling.
And, if your best work isn't here, that's fine. We are all balloons rising up, and we will never pull you down 🎈 We will admire your flight with a big smile, and wish you success in your endeavours. Perhaps our paths will cross again.
Stories (ask us!): PH: Year in Monzo RK: ZX40 Malaria Eradication
💚 Have a Co-founder Mindset
Co-founders think about the long term impact of decisions. That in of itself is an important mindset. With longer-term thinking, we remove present biases and impulses. It forces us to think holistically, to zoom out and to consider more balanced approaches, and ultimately for greater outcomes!
So, align your activities based on what the company actually needs, rather than the instruction. Apply principle over rule. Position your thinking higher up the organisational hierarchy and think beyond what a typical employee would do. We're not here to do 'typical' things. By truly acting with the best intentions of the client, you elevate your thinking from an employee or a consultant, to a co-founder.
Recognise that problems will always have constraints and this is what makes them interesting. So, fall in love with the practice of creative thinking in the context of constraint. Be entrepreneurial, resourceful and scrappy.
Having a co-founder mindset exists both in the twenty--twenty domain, and the client domain. At twenty--twenty, recognise your own agency to create the environment you want to work in. Want to trial a new initiative? Present the case, win over the team, and drive your vision into a reality. This is a space where people are ready and willing to rally around your ideas. This is the home of your biggest supporters! In the client domain, a co-founder mindset means aligning our priorities with our clients' goals. It means championing and supporting them.
A good example to draw inspiration from is Airbnb's "be a cereal entrepreneur" cultural value. This was formed by the founders' story of selling cereals, an idea that brought them record revenue and made them debt free:
Culture with Brian Chesky and Alfred Lin (How to Start a Startup 2014: Lecture 10)
How to Start a Startup is a series of video lectures, initially given at Stanford in Fall 2014. Lecture Transcript: http://www.tech.genius.com/Alfred-lin-lec...
Careers at Airbnb
118 roles in 58 locations Explore roles Our mission It's an audacious, incredibly rewarding mission that our increasingly diverse team is dedicated to achieving. Airbnb is built around the idea that everyone should be able to take the perfect trip, including where they stay, what they do, and who they meet.
👩🏫 Simultaneously Be a Student and a Teacher
This value means to be active in both learning and teaching, but also knowing when to switch between roles. There's no hard and fast rule that you can apply here. It's hard! However, a good place to start is to be open-minded.
When you're a student, you are given freedom to explore and learn concepts - it's a playground. Ask any question, be willing to adopt concepts as well as push back on them. That's how a concept evolves. And don't be too hard on yourself. You will naturally be bad at things you have never done before, so give yourself the time and love to grow.
So, when you're with a mentor, be primarily a student, but don't shy away from teaching something new. It may not be a refined idea yet, but getting early input on new things you've learned, can help to develop and sharpen concepts and your critical thinking.
And when you're a teacher, focus on creating a safe learning space, allow questions and mistakes. Share knowledge, encourage debate, but also show your thinking. Giving someone a fish is giving them the outcome, teaching someone to fish is giving them the capability to reach outcomes independently (this is a win win by the way).
So, when you're in conversation with a mentee, be primarily a teacher, but allow them to feedback and offer information. Strong two way information flow is a competitive advantage, let's own this!
A final example. When you're in reflection mode and you're reviewing the month's work, think about what you could share to the team, to level everyone up. Many people miss this mindset. Sharing learning feels intangible and requires a lot of effort. In reality, sharing learnings is the basis of human progression and is a priceless and rewarding forward investment. Write up insights on a project, share it with the team, and then release it publicly!
Don't just stop when you learn something new. Be deliberate in taking that knowledge, and forming it into practical output. What's the point of knowledge that doesn't get used? That's a vanity metric! Don't be an isolated academic, be a visionary practical thinker. Feel a thirst to take knowledge and apply it. Take that framework you read about recently, evaluate it, evolve it, discuss and get feedback on your developed model and find an opportunity to use it. Tried it and it didn't quite work? Feel proud that you acted with intention to make something new in the world happen. It may not happen now, but with more attempts and the right timing, this practice will create innovation. And the world really needs innovators.
Finally, believe that you can always learn something from anyone. So, when you're speaking to new people, embrace the opportunity to learn something new, rather than trying to impose your knowledge and preserve face. Be evolutionary, not static.
Storytime: Pete and Raj were new to using content as a strategy to drive organic search traffic. It's not rocket science, and with some mutual motivation and support, they decide to learn it! Before finding the principles and practices, at the back of their mind, they knew they wanted to share all they knew to the client team as well as bringing it home to twenty--twenty. They wrote up documentation that concisely described key concepts to a beginners audience, saved links and key resources down and gave the team learning sessions. They had an opportunity to do an online webinar to their circle of entrepreneur friends, so they took it up. It resulted in personal learning, a happy and levelled up audience, brand equity and by recording the session, they now have a great resource for future learners to start with (and they've saved the need to explain things multiple times in future). What a win win win!
🧘🏽♂️Trust in Radical Truth and Radical Transparency
Strong relationships, high alignment and high autonomy are all ingredients of effective teams that endure. Radical truth and transparency are powerful tools for developing deep relations, achieving greater alignment and greater autonomy.
Take this typical situation: A new employee, let's call him Rupert, joins a company. He bites the bullet and decides to be radically transparent about his skill set. Letting his new team know his strengths, weaknesses and range of experience. He also expresses his confidence in learning on the job. Later he decides to take on a marketing channel that falls outside his range of experience. Knowing this is something new for Rupert, the team adjust their time and quality expectations, providing support and feedback with the appropriate amount of context. Rupert feels trusted and supported. His team have the appropriate context to support Rupert in completing his work to an outstanding standard. The process builds trust.
Now, imagine this situation without transparency. Rupert pretends he is good at a marketing channel that he has not yet tested. The team believing Rupert, set high expectations of his work and the time taken to complete it. Rupert feeling the pressure to perform stresses to complete his work to a high standard, but when he stumbles into difficulties, he feels too embarrassed to ask for help. In the case where he is not able to deliver to the high expectations set, the team lose faith in Rupert's ability to deliver.
In the first scenario, although initially uncomfortable, transparency creates alignment between Rupert and the team as to his abilities. If he does well, his team appreciate that he succeeded against the odds. If he struggles, his team are understanding and ready to support him. Either way, the interaction builds trust. Compounded over many interactions, a culture of high autonomy can be formed. The team having seen Rupert consistently deliver, trust with the autonomy Rupert to meet goals.
"Understanding what is true is essential for success, and being radically transparent about everything, including mistakes and weaknesses, helps create the understanding that leads to improvement." Ray Dalio - Principles
Whilst radical truth and transparency are principles we should aspire to, blindly following these without tactful timing and delivery can lead to emotional hurt and even the breakdown of relationships.
Furthermore, in the absence of truth, transparency is ill-advised. Let's make this real. When giving feedback (transparency), better to be sure your feedback is accurate (truth) before delivering it. If inaccurate feedback is given, it erodes relationships and trust. If radical truth and transparency is the science, timing and delivery is the art.
Excerpt from Principles, by Ray Dalio: Understanding what is true is essential for success, and being radically transparent about everything, including mistakes and weaknesses, helps create the understanding that leads to improvements. That’s not just a theory; we have put this into practice at Bridgewater for over forty years, so we know how it works. But like most things in life, being radically truthful and transparent has cons as well as pros, which I will describe as accurately as possible in this chapter. Being radically truthful and transparent with your colleagues and expecting your colleagues to be the same with you ensures that important issues are apparent instead of hidden. It also enforces good behaviour and good thinking, because when you have to explain yourself, everyone can openly assess the merits of your logic. If you are handling things well, radical transparency will make that clear, and if you are handling things badly, radical transparency will make that clear as well, so it helps to maintain high standards. Radical truth and radical transparency are fundamental to having a real idea meritocracy. The more people can see what is happening—the good, the bad, and the ugly—the more eﬀective they are at deciding the appropriate ways of handling things. This approach is also invaluable for training: learning is compounded and accelerated when everyone has the opportunity to hear what everyone else is thinking. As a leader, you will get the feedback essential for your learning and for the continual improvement of the organisation’s decision-making rules. And seeing ﬁrst hand what’s happening and why builds trust and allows people to make the independent assessments of the evidence that a functioning idea meritocracy requires.
Stories (ask us!): RK: Timing and delivery of feedback with our first client RK: Giving feedback to manager after HSBC project at Accenture RK: Transparency about hiring process and business priorities PH: Giving Raj direct feedback after a customer call PH: Conversation with parents about health v.s. business success