Baking Purpose into Culture

Over the years, the brands that I adore the most have been built by the most determined people in the world with a vision—but something deeper drives them.

Purpose.

It is the gravity that pulls people from around the world to be a part of their story. Purpose is the north star that guides them. It reminds every employee and advocate to protect something much more precious. When they get up in the morning, they have a clear idea of what they’re fighting for.

As I work on early stage companies, I realize that product market fit and growth are critical, but those metrics represent a small fraction of the company genome. Companies go through ups and downs searching for product market fit—hell, after finding product market fit, they have to find product economic fit. It’s easy to lose footing when everything’s constantly changing. Hopefully a purpose can be the constant fire that reinvigorates a team and enriches their lives.

I’ve seen how teams can fall apart quickly—motivation can literally evaporate before your eyes–people start showing up later, and daily interactions become mercurial. I’m embarrassed to admit that one of my teams fractured from misalignment in one point in my career. I focused too much energy on building vision. In hindsight, I should have spend more time with my co-founders to un-package the most fundamental question, “why?”

Why are we building this product and why the does it matter?

Our purpose wasn’t baked into our DNA from the get-go, and the effects were clear when the chips were down. All is not to say that we wouldn’t have failed. Even if we had a crystal clear purpose, we could have inevitably perished… but at least if we were going to fall on the sword, everyone would know why it was worth it.

Aram shared this advice with me recently, “99% of the projects out there are not worth doing, but 1% is worth dying for.” As we get older, we have less time to start new things, and we have to be more deliberate about how we spend each day of our life. I think purpose can help us decide what that 1% is.

There’s an opportunity to bake purpose early into a company culture. When people feel something from the most vulnerable and empathetic place in their heart, they will move mountains for you. That source of inspiration must be authentic and ultimately human. It has to be a feeling that touches their soul and reconnects everyone with the world they’re fighting for.

Hat tip to Sina and Expa for opening my eyes to this.

Farewell Flare

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Reflecting on next steps.

After working on Flare for the last 2 years, we’re shutting it down. I hold my head up high knowing that I worked with an awesome team, and I tried my best in an extremely tough space. I want to thank my comrades, my co-founders, my mentors, our investors, Expa and all the Flare users for giving me the chance to build this. I also want to thank Annie, my family, and all my friends for being so supportive of this dream.

This has been the most humbling experience of my life. I’ve learned some lessons along the way, and I wanted to pay it forward by sharing the insights. I’ll be posting a little more over the next few days, so stay tuned.

Dinner at Dumpling Kitchen

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The signature Shanghai soup dumplings, served at Dumpling Kitchen.

Annie, Julia and I went to the Dumpling Kitchen to enjoy their most consistently delicious soup dumplings.

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Shanghai style noodles with chicken.

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Veggies.

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Beef in black bean sauce.

I’ve tried a lot of things at this restaurant, and I would say that this is probably one of their better dishes. If you go there, definitely order their beef with black bean sauce.

After Dumpling Kitchen, we made our way to Super Cue to get some boba. My personal favorite is their mango with pana cotta—it’s the perfect dessert to follow any meal. Julia claimed that Super Cue has the best tapioca pearls. ^_^

Anyway, this is an excellent combo between price and value (especially in SF).

Bunch 1.1

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Bunch beta was released a month ago, and since then we’ve made a couple of tweaks based on user feedback. Thanks to all our beta users for providing us insight, and kudos to the Bunch team for making the updates. If you haven’t tried it out yet, you can download it here.

I’m incredibly proud of the app, and I love using it with Annie, Vinny and my friends. The question is whether the app is useful and appealing to other people around the world.

The biggest bit of feedback we got when interviewing users is that they didn’t know how to message. We spent time improving the first time experience, hopefully to show users how messaging can be done easily by pressing and holding. This is the #1 issue we’re hoping to address in this update.

We’ve also made it so that you can add more than 8 people. For users that initially joined and had a ton of friends message them, this was a huge pain point. I know for a fact that I was having trouble messaging people that were outside my top 8.

Anyway, I’ll share more on lessons learned soon. Until then, try the app and let me know what you think. If you don’t have anyone to message, just add me as a friend. Search for “Jeff Wong”, and we can message each other. ^_^

Squashing Bugs

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We’re getting closer and closer to shipping our new app with each bug we squash. I’m really proud of this team—Joe (pictured above) stayed up all night working on fixing a really gnarly bug that’s been causing issues with our app. I’m inspired by his effort and creativity. He’s leading by example and I think it’s motivating us all.

He’s taught me to ignore negativity, persevere and keep building. I’m really inspired by Joe. I have a lot to learn from this guy.

I hope we can launch this new app and get some traction. I’d love to show the world what this team can do. We’re so close.