What Do Your Work Values Say About You?

By Trevor McKendrick 👋 - Have you read my free newsletter?

Breaking Rules & Solving Problems

One of the fundamental differences between Silicon Valley and The Paper Belt (i.e. Washington DC, New York, elite universities) is what they value.

There are obvious narratives that you probably think I’m referring to. See:

Facebook’s “move fast and break things”

Uber breaking local laws to get drivers out

Airbnb breaking zoning laws, etc.

But what I’m talking about today is working in an organization.

If you’re used to following rules, being rewarded for doing exactly what you’re told perfectly, crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s…. you’re going to be deeply unhappy in a venture-backed startup.

You’ll encounter some company rule, adjust your workflow to it, judge your potential actions based on it, and then the rule will be suddenly changed on you w/ zero prior notice.

Even worse: that change may not even be communicated to you. It could just be culturally assumed that everyone “gets” the new way of operating, or management just was too busy to let you know.

And so now you’re giving 110% of your efforts to following the wrong rules(!)

Take the other side:

If you thrive by solving problems wherever you find them and having the flexibility to Go Forth And Conquer, operating in an organization that places extreme value on titles, org structure, and process is going to make you miserable.

You’ll solve problems that everyone rightly acknowledges are problems, but because you went about it in the “wrong” way you’ll actually be penalized.

You’ll lose your mind trying to decipher the “right” way to solve problems, instead of doing what’s easiest and fastest.

Changing the Game

This is one of many reasons the Paper Belt and Silicon Valley haven’t gotten along recently. Silicon Valley started winning even though it was doing all the “wrong” things.

And when you can do things the “wrong” way and still win, people start complaining about the game.

It probably says a lot about you whether your reaction is

“the new game is better so everyone should adjust to it”


“the old game has worked fine so rule breakers should be penalized”

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