We decided it was time to start laying out (publicly) the principles that we work by in order to help other emerging startups and, to better understand these principles ourselves. Below are some of our favorite concepts from awesome thinkers, builders and companies that we’ve studied as we prepared to launch our first product. We aim to live and breath these as we build and grow the team and company.

Idea Meritocracy

In a meritocracy, the best ideas rise to the top. This is not a democracy but it does mean is that everyone has a say. The point is that we trust each other’s expertise and respect that we are smarter than each other in specific areas (which is exactly what we want). As long as we support open dialogue, but ensure that ideas rise based on merit, not hierarchy, we will be in the best position to succeed, together.

We borrowed this concept from Ray Dalio who’s done a decent job implementing them (his company is the world’s largest and most successful private hedge fund). Ray breaks down the factors that lead to an idea meritocracy with 3 key elements. Here’s Ray:

“You have to make a choice: Do you want to be stuck with your opinion, or go above it all? It’s an out-of-body experience…Put your honest thoughts out on the tableHave thoughtful disagreements in which people are willing to shift their opinions as they learnHave agreed-upon ways of deciding if disagreements remain so that you can move beyond them without resentmentsAnd to do this well, you need to be radically truthful and radically transparent, by which I mean you need to allow people to see and say almost anything. If you’re not transparent, people won’t know enough about what’s going on to have good, independent opinions, and if you don’t expect the truth of people, you’ll never know whether or not they’re telling you want they really think.”

Radical candor

Kim Scott was a longtime director at Google and faculty member at Apple University before building her current company, Candor Inc. which has the stated mission of: “Creating bullshit-free zones where people love their work and working together.”

She breaks down the main principle behind the company in one simple sentence. “Radical candor is humble, it’s helpful, it’s immediate, it’s in person — in private if it’s criticism and in public if it’s praise — and it doesn’t personalize.”


The Radical Candor Framework

“One of the best ways to make Radical Candor easier is to remember what happens when you fail to Care Personally and Challenge Directly. We’ve named the quadrants colorfully to help you remember to move toward Radical Candor, but it’s key to remember that these are not labels for people; they refer to a particular interaction or behavior. Ultimately, everyone spends some time in each of the quadrants.

**Obnoxious Aggression**™ is what happens when you challenge but don’t care. It’s praise that doesn’t feel sincere or criticism that isn’t delivered kindly.

**Ruinous Empathy**™ is what happens when you care but don’t challenge. It’s praise that isn’t specific enough to help the person understand what was good or criticism that is sugarcoated and unclear.