We asked prominent Stanford GSB alumni an open-ended question: “What values are important to you in business?” Below you’ll find a combination of personal maxims and principles that may guide your own business values. Which values resonate with you? Tweet us @StanfordBiz.
1. Treating others the way you want to be treated
“I’m a big believer in the golden rule. It is the dominating value in my business relationships. If you treat people well, by and large, they will treat you well. That principle lets you sleep well at night and earns you tremendous respect. Every once in a while, someone will take advantage of you, but you just choose not to work with them any longer.”
-Andy Rachleff (MBA ’84), Stanford GSB Lecturer and CEO of Wealthfront
Read the full interview: http://stnfd.biz/oDXBO
“It means relating to people in a way that is authentic and true. It spans the gamut from not ripping people off to not putting up a false front. At Paga, we follow through on our promises to customers and partners, and we do our best to be transparent in the way we do business.”
-Jay Alabraba (MBA ’07), Cofounder of Pagatech
Read the full interview: http://stnfd.biz/oDXXC
“I have relationships in business that go back 25-30 years and most of the business we have done together is on a handshake. With some people that means more than any other contract.”
-Bob Moog (MBA ‘84), CEO of University Games
Read the full interview: http://stnfd.biz/oDZNJ
“With me, what you see is what you get. In corporate America, that did not fare in my favor. As an entrepreneur, I like that I get to select my own clients. I choose to work with people who are straightforward and appreciate my directness.”
-Denise Brosseau (MBA ’93), CEO of Thought Leadership Lab
Read the full interview: http://stnfd.biz/oDYeh
“One of our core values at Tiny Prints is to treat each other like family. When we recruit we look for people who value meaningful relationships. Our company is all about creating better connections. The work environment here is very collegial. People have become roommates, good friends, and godmothers. People have a great loyalty to each other. Of course every family is dysfunctional but we try to engender trust so people can be open and provide feedback that might be hard. When there is trust, you know it comes from a good place.”
-Laura Ching (MBA ’00), Cofounder of Tiny Prints
Read the full interview: http://stnfd.biz/oDYOB
5. Open and honest communication
“Problems fester when teams are not open and honest, especially with diverse teams where there are a lot of differences of opinion. As a leader you need to create a culture that rewards and promotes honesty, even if you disagree with something. It is also important to be bold — especially if you are an entrepreneur and you want to impact the country and change the world. That takes guts and courage.”
-Steve Poizner (MBA ’80), CEO of Empowered Careers
Read the full interview: http://stnfd.biz/oDYXL
“We all feel grateful for the business we’ve built together and the opportunities we have, and we work hard to communicate that to the team, our customers, and our business partners.”
-Beth Cross (MBA ’88), Founder and CEO of Ariat International
Read the full interview: http://stnfd.biz/oDZb5
7. Honesty, simplicity, and doing something you believe has real value
“Many companies do market research to try and anticipate the needs of the customer. I say just develop great products and tell an honest story about them. All the excess marketing spin in the commercial world has created a desire for authentic goods.”
-Rob Forbes (MBA ’85), Founder of Design Within Reach and PUBLIC Bikes
Read the full interview: http://stnfd.biz/oDZvz
“I only want people to work at Stella & Dot who feel like it fits into their life’s mission. Life is way too short not to love what you do, why you do it, and who you do it with. You can’t wait for some event to be your payoff. When you wake up each day, you need to ask yourself: Is this my best purpose? Do I love where I live, who I know, what I do? So often we do things because it is an esteemed position to take, or because we need to simply pay the bills. I respect paying the bills, but you should stay on the quest to do that while doing something you love, too. Many Stanford alumni will have earned the ability to be selective. You need to ask yourself: Am I doing what I truly want to do, or just what others expect me to do? When I started making jewelry in my living room people thought I was crazy. I thought, ‘Yes I am! But who cares — I’m on my path to happiness.’ I believed enough in what I was doing to drown out the doubters all around me.”
-Jessica Herrin, Founder of Stella & Dot
Read the full interview: http://stnfd.biz/oE00B
9. Transparency and an open culture
“I believe you should share what many consider to be secrets about how the company is really doing, including the financials, to everyone at the company, all the way down to the call center. There should be no hoarding information. I also believe it is important to support experimentation. Everyone at the company should be encouraged to do fast experiments that fail quickly. Based on those tests the best ideas should win. Also, your values as a company have to be rooted in living a purposeful life.”
-James Gutierrez (MBA ’05), Founder of Progreso Financiero
Read the full interview: http://stnfd.biz/oE0fE
10. Working to make a difference in the world
“You can see who’s most powerful in a society based on who has the tallest buildings. Two hundred years ago it was cathedrals. Fifty years ago it was a government building. Today, in most urban areas, the power rests with business and skyscrapers. Business is the most powerful influence in the world today. Fifty-four of the 100 most powerful entities in the world today are companies, not countries. That means it is that much more important that businesses take a conscious capitalist perspective to make a difference in the world. I’m a big believer in that on a global level. Businesses are finally asking, what is our ecological footprint? I also believe businesses need to look at their emotional fist print on their employees.”
-Chip Conley (MBA ’84), Founder of Joie de Vivre Hotels
Read the full interview: http://stnfd.biz/oE0BA
This post is from Anthony Yu, who is a social entrepreneur with Urban Light, a 501c3 providing direct services for sexually exploited boys and teenagers in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He is interested in applying Steve Blank’s principles of customer development in the social field. You can follow him at @baconstarvation.
All credit for the concepts below should be given to Steve Blank - for developing these ideas - and to Stanford’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and Andy Rachleff, for hosting and being an awesome interviewer, respectively.
For those angry with the tenets of customer development, please immediately direct all apples, oranges, and sasquatch meat stick projectiles at Steve Blank. His wonder-beard will subsequently consume these items and fire a comically large cannon ball at you, for we know these customer development tenets to be honorable and true.
Technological startups are not smaller versions of larger companies. (Here are Steve Blank’s slides on this subject matter.)
Entrepreneurship is a calling, not a job.
Customer development cannot be outsourced.
MBAs are not necessarily suited to be sole founders of a technological startup.
In many situations, second-mover advantage provides more benefit than first-mover advantage in a new market.
The venture capitalist secret memo for founders:
Other key points:
Twitter highlights with #seprov: