What Drives the Magic of Startups?

By Sokol, Marc | People & Strategy, Summer 2018 | Go to article overview

What Drives the Magic of Startups?


Sokol, Marc, People & Strategy


How often have you wondered what it would be like to be part of a startup? How do you shape a vision into a startup strategy, form a team, and create the future together? For many these are powerful aspirations; some of you have already lived the dream; some of you have also discovered a nightmare within that dream.

Every startup is an act of courage, even if the founder doesn't experience it that way. The all-in lifestyle along with rollercoaster ups and downs, and potential for live-changing success becomes the stuff of hope and fear, myth and superstition.

As more startups evolve, we see no shortage of media attention on their growth and valuation, and stories often highlight a combination of magic, myth, and mayhem. We see viral sharing when startups go bad, when founders and team display unacceptable behaviors, or when a new company starts out like a rocket only to suddenly explode under the weight of its own culture and actions. No one founds or joins a startup planning to be unethical or forge a poisonous culture. We don't know what's behind the curtain of most startups, so myths easily form and become the focus of common assumptions.

Whether you are an HR professional, an organizational psychologist, or an executive coach, if you have engaged in a startup, you have profound awareness that startups are nothing like the larger organizations in which we more often work. Many startup veterans have a sense of what went well and what might have been done differently, carrying that with them to their next venture, whether that be another startup or a larger firm. Our guest editor, Marc Maltz, is also a veteran of such opportunities, having worked with 100 startups over the past three decades. …

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