My Company’s Mantra

A few years ago, when I was just starting my startup, I asked Frank Helle (CEO of Axian) if he had any advice. He said that Guy Kawasaki was in town talking about starting companies, and that I should attend. At the time, I didn’t know who Guy Kawasaki was, and for some reason, I didn’t think google him either (I don’t think I used “google” as a verb at that time).

On the day of his talk, I paid my $20 fee to get in and sat near the front (since you can see the speaker better). Just before he was about to start, I looked around at the audience and was surprised that the whole room was full. As soon as Guy started his talk, I could see why. He was a remarkable speaker and had so much pragmatic advice that I didn’t bother taking notes — I was just going to buy his book Art of the Start. If you’re thinking about starting a company, this is something you should really take a look at.

A mantra is not a vision statement

One of the interesting points he made was having a “mantra” for your company. This isn’t a vision statement or a mission statement (which are usually lifeless and awful). This is the reason your company exists, a short phrase that sums up the ideals and goals of your company. It’s hard to come up with this, so we didn’t have one for quite a while (actually it took us over 2 years to come up with our mantra).

A mantra is not a tagline

One thing a mantra is not is a tagline. We hear taglines all the time: “What can Brown do for you?”, “I’m lovin’ it”, “Just do it”. A tagline is part of a campaign for branding a company. It isn’t the reason a company exists. Nike doesn’t exist to “just do it”. Guy came up with one possible mantra for Nike: “Authentic athletic performance”. This doesn’t have the zing of their tagline, but it is more enduring and provides more guidance.

Although a tagline isn’t a mantra, it still takes time to develop. It took my company about a year before we came up with something that worked (my wife thought of it — she’s very smart). Our tagline is “Get Your Priorities Straight.” It’s a nice tagline. It’s short, it’s accurate, and it’s a little confrontational (something key for the kind of startup we have). However, it’s not a mantra.

Our mantra

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had to describe my company’s product (Frontier), to a number of people in a number of different ways. One day, my company’s mantra just popped into my head: “Reduce workplace stress”. This is really at the core of my company. That’s why I came up with the concept for Frontier. That’s why I took the time to think about it and develop it.

People spend most of their lives at work. A lot of their time at work is spent under stress. Stress is a bad thing that can spill over into every aspect of people’s lives. If we can figure out how to reduce workplace stress in a real way (not just treat the symptoms), we will have done something to improve (and maybe change) the world. That’s something worth spending time on. That’s why I keep going. That’s why my company will succeed…eventually 🙂

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About Rino Jose

Trying to find good ways to develop software.

3 responses to “My Company’s Mantra”

  1. Cliff says :

    I like the mantra and tagline. I would like to see more of a demo on your website to show the power of the product. Just me.

    Cool Earth (Leo’s new employer) might need your technology. You might be able to kill two birds with one stone by meeting the Ruby on Rails guy and selling your product. If they’re using Ruby there now, it might not take much convincing.

  2. Cliff says :

    BTW – not ecstatic about Guy Kawasaki. We go way back, and believe me when I say that he’s pretty self absorbed. I ended up giving him “some advice” on a few of the things he should be doing at his current stage in life… and it didn’t have anything to do with stroking an already large e.g.o.

    If you dig far enough, you’ll likely find that the stuff Guy’s been hot on (and invested in with Garage Ventures) for the last ten years, isn’t that popular or profitable. He had his time and it’s quite possibly over. You never know… I could be wrong.

    His book is still useful, however. And now that he’s raking in cash for appearances, I’d say he’s likely living off of those rather than his company’s ventures.

  3. Rino Jose says :

    @Cliff Thanks for your comments. Our official website should be up this week.

    Regarding Guy Kawasaki, I don’t know him personally, but he’s been very decent in my professional encounters with him.

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