Success Breeds Success

Last week I received a fantastic email.  The email was from the CEO of one of my portfolio companies announcing the promotion of his administrative assistant.  After three years of doing great work for the CEO, this assistant was promoted into a role in the marketing department.  As much as the CEO regretted losing such a fantastic assistant, he was truly thrilled to see her progress in her career. 

The email reminded me of yet another reason I think that startups are so special.  Startups can provide amazing opportunities for career advancement.  In more established businesses, it is often hard to find room to take on additional responsibilities; and harder still to find space in the organization to progress with one's career.  Startups, on the other hand, often grow at such a pace that not only are employees able to take on additional responsibilities, they are required to.  As a result, smart, hard working individuals — like the administrative assistant above — will have doors open in front of them.  No need to break down doors in the land of the fast-growing startup.  Just walk on through.

True, this upward mobility in startups is also a bit of a double edged sword.  Startups are brutal meritocracies and employees who fail to meet the expectations of the organization can rather find themselves heading out the door.  But those who outperform are given ever more responsibility and the opportunity to march up the corporate ladder.

Often times in successful startups, the lions share of the glory goes to the founders and CEO.  And they certainly are deserving of praise.  But the most successful businesses are an amalgamation of wonderful people at all levels of the organization.  And as those businesses thrive, they provide opportunities for growth across the organization, which further energizes the company, spurring on more growth.  The end result is a culture of advancement and success that can not be beaten. 

As I got the note from my portfolio company CEO, It was just another reminder of what success looks like.  Success is about opportunity.  And success breeds success.  I could not be happier for the company.  But, most importantly, I could not be happier for such a wonderful member of the team.  Congratulations Jamie!