At last! We did it! Time to celebrate!
Victory is “an act of defeating an enemy or opponent in a battle, game, or other competition.”
Celebrate is to “mark something by festivities or other deviation from routine.”
Celebrating victories becomes an important part of the culture of startups lead by serial entrepreneurs. Their leaders know the emotional power generated by such events and use it to spur individuals and teams to tackle seemingly-impossible encounters along the startup trail.
From Small to Large to Really Large
Startup victories and related celebrations typically follow a sequence – they start small and build in size.
- Starts with celebrating spontaneously, congratulating the small group on a big task finished at last!
- Then begin the fun on Fridays.
- Add celebrating awards and promotions of individuals.
- Then when launching the first product.
- Sign first customer order.
- Sign first huge customer order.
- Complete first venture funding.
- … and so on goes the cascade of increasing victories with their attendant celebrations.
- The end of the startup trail has either a initial public offering or sale of the company celebration to remember forever.
When arriving at the completion of the startup trail the successful startup will realize it has become one of the top ranked companies in the new industry it has helped create. That’s dubbed gorilla status.
Shortly thereafter it will be time to “go IPO” or sell at a huge value to a huge corporation. Then a huge celebration will take place. Along the trail to those final moments are vast numbers of encounters that precipitate possibilities to celebrate, to boost spirits of hard-working employees and to encourage other stakeholders outside the startup. How you choose to celebrate will reflect your values and wisdom.
When and Where
Victories and celebrations in startups begin small. I’ve found that startup employees especially appreciate spontaneous moments of expressions of appreciation from fellow workers, especially the founder. The daily stresses occurring week after week typically push social chatter into lamenting troubles and mountains of work to be done. Thus a simple thank you acknowledgement from someone brings light into the darkness. The positive emotional power of those small moments was made famous in the all-time classic best seller, The One Minute Manager[i].
- The weekly staff meeting is an opportunity to celebrate progress, achievements and express “Thank you” to those gathered.
- The monthly all hands meeting is a venue to be positive, single out people who have done remarkable things.
- Yet both the weekly and monthly gatherings are also where a founder can address “the elephant in the room” to say that she and the company have learned from a bad outcome. Some call that celebrating failures. If all you say are positive things, your credibility will begin to diminish. You will be turned into someone no longer to be trusted, not worthy of being followed.
- The monthly board meeting can include celebratory events. There individuals can be asked to attend and present a challenging task that was successfully accomplished. It is a place of awe where outstanding individuals can be given awards and promotions in the presence of revered board members.
[i] The One Minute Manager, Ken Blanchard, 1982, William Morrow & Co.. New York, NY
BOTTOM LINE: Victories and their celebrations are important parts of the culture of a startup. Veterans incorporate them into the regular rhythm of their new enterprises. When you do the same, your people and you will greatly benefit.
I wish you The Best on your Adventure!