Walking to work this morning I was reminiscing of the time that I worked at this startup. Being a small knit group, my team lead arranged for me to meet with the C.E.O upon his return. I thought this was incredibly useful as I would get the opportunity to meet the founder, architect and mind behind the initiative.

A few days went by and the C.E.O returned. We had a brief and informal greeting and he assured me that we would meet the day following. Well, the day followed, and nothing happened. Perhaps he is busy I thought to myself. Sure enough, he is the director of such a vibrant startup. After two days, I asked him if he would have an opportunity that day to meet, then he said yes or else the next day. Nothing happened.

Eventually, we did have that sit down.

At this point, I must say that I certainly appreciate the director giving me the time. I would imagine that there are some who wouldn’t even take the time to do something like this. However, this made me think quite a bit on culture.

A wise man I knew once said, “You will never be truly generous with €1 million — if your heart is not tender with €10.” Such a profound statement that stayed with me till today.

Much is true of company culture.

“Authentic and genuine culture is defined in a company’s infancy. Not when it is enlarged.”

Why is this? As a company grows, there is an abundance of challenges and growing pains to deal with. If culture is not inherent in the beginning, it will almost be impossible to instil much later. It’s like a father who pledges to spend more time with his family, when they have reached a certain financial bracket. If you don’t take the time to cultivate your culture in its infancy — it will be increasingly difficult to establish as you grow. New people with strong wills will join and sway you. Investors will impose demands that will cause you to compromise. By the time you have matured, you won’t recognise who you were to begin with.

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