WHAT you DO is WHO you ARE

By September 28, 2020No Comments

Corporate culture has always fascinated me. ?

So, I’ve always been very aware of the differences in the places I’ve worked for, throughout my career.

I’ve worked in serious places.

You know the kind, right?

Formal shirts tucked deep into your pants. You only speak when you’re spoken to.

Reserved parking spots? Only if you’re in top management.

Not that I’m against any of that. In fact, those were very happy (and productive) times for me.

But, I also worked at more “relaxed” places.

Beers were chugged. Fun was had. And ideas were more freely circulated.

The lines between work and play, colleagues and friends… were blurred.

Whatever the style – culture can be the difference between dreading the sound of your alarm clock and “waltzing out of bed” every Monday morning – bursting with energy and a sense of purpose.

I don’t think there is a RIGHT culture. There IS though.. an ADEQUATE culture for that company and with that Founder.

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As Ben Horowitz writes in his book, What you do is who you are:

 "If you don’t methodically set your culture, 
then two-thirds of it will end up being accidental,
 and the rest will be a mistake." 

With this in mind, can you answer this?

  • If you are an employee: In what kind of culture do you want to work at?
  • If you are a founder: What kind of culture do you want for your company?

As BeLocal’s founder, I dove deep into these questions. And inspired by Ben Horowitz’s book AND the practices of the seemingly unstoppable Amazon (which has its own set of widely publicised values), my team and I created OUR Guiding Principles.

Think of them as a set of rules, based on values, that anybody that works at your company should believe in (and follow).

Is the suspense killing you? It is…!?

Sorry, here you go!

(for simplicity and to NOT bore you to death, I will refer to the Guiding principles as GPs, ok?)

BeLocal’s Guiding principles ❤️

Learn these. Love these. Live these.  

Be obsessed. ?

With the customers. With the product. With results.

Be scrappy ?

There IS a way of doing it, cheaper. Or free. Find it.

 Just fuck!ng do it. ?

Plan less. Do more. Adjust along the way.

Yes, we can. ?

No hill is too high. No challenge is too tough. No idea is TOO crazy.

We are open to feedback. ?

From our team. From our users. From the universe. 

The truth shall set us free. ?

Be open. Be honest. Be direct.

In Data we TRUST. ?

We base our decisions on Data, whenever possible. 

Take care. ?

Of ourselves. Of our company. Of our customers. Of our family.

Be a sponge. ?

Learn. From our colleagues. From our customers. From our competition.

Don’t be an a*shole. ?

Be nice. Be humble. Be human.

We are a team. ? ?

We work as a team. We win as a team. We fail as a team. 

Have fun. ?

We kid. We laugh. We enjoy ourselves.

We take time OFF. ⛽

To rest. To unplug. To reenergize. 

Don’t be Afraid. ?

To speak out. To make mistakes. To be yourself.

If you enjoyed them, feel free to use them at your company. Or make some changes. OR EVEN… make your own – COMPLETELY UNIQUE set of guiding principles.

Oh – if at any point you see one of us Belocals not following our GPs, please let us know.

We are ALWAYS open to feedback. ?

Now you know OUR GPs. ?

How about at YOUR company!? What’s your culture like? What do you enjoy? What would you change? Let me know in the comments.


Here are a few tips I learned along the way reading about the topic and implementing our very own guiding principles at BeLocal. Hope they are helpful.

Okay, let’s get started with this list. ?

1- You can’t fake them.

Your GPs have to reflect who you are. If you are formal and methodic don’t try to create a spontaneous and playful culture.

2- Good GPs are concrete, specific and based on behaviors and not values.

Think we don’t print anything that can be sent by email and NOT ” we care about the environment.”

3- Involve your colleagues.

A culture that is imposed “top-down” is doomed to fail. Discuss each GP, clarifying what they mean and and settle down on a final meaning. This way, you will increase “ownership” and your GPs will have a higher chance of adherence.

4- Expose… and share them generously.

Here at BeLocal we have them framed on our wall. Every time we enter our office we are reminded of them. We also plan on printing them in a “deck of cards” format. Who knows – it might even become some sort of game. ?

5- Create initiatives that represent your GPs.

There’s no point in just sticking with the theory, am I right!? Put them into action. For example, one of our GPs is “Be a Sponge”, so every team member has a monthly budget to spend on books, courses and other learning material they deem interesting.

6- Hire for culture.

A new employee who does not share your GPs, can quickly have a devastating effect on your culture. So, while interviewing, be sure to be aware and share your GPs as early and as often as possible.

7- Use them to take (and simplify) decisions

We used to spend A LONG time discussing things which were basically guesses – they were based on our own experiences – but they were still guesses. And you know what? These discussions took us nowhereFAST. Now, when we discuss something, we ask each other, “What does the DATA say?” This has made our discussions more focused and productive. Every time you invoke a GP, it becomes more powerful and ingrained.

8- Guiding Principles can (and probably will) change over time

GPs are like people. They age (and mature) with time. It’s a natural process. And the important thing is to be aware and adjust accordingly.