Chad Pytel, CEO of thoughtbot, met with the Soaring Startup Circle on Thursday morning in Boston. Pytel shared the company’s founding story with teams and highlighted the approaches his team took that shaped thoughtbot into the industry leader it is today.
Pytel emphasized the value of focus and saying “no” to a lot of opportunities. He admitted, “In the moment, it [saying no] is counterintuitive. You want to say, ‘yes’ to every opportunity. You want to do everything, but you can be much more successful by being focused and saying ‘no.’” Focus in any young startup is crucial when feedback is coming from all directions and the number of potential courses of action seem endless.
Having a strong opinion about your company’s projected path is necessary to avoid stretching yourself too thin. Learn something new each day and allow yourself to change your opinion overtime. For example, a project you said “no” to previously is a project you can potentially say “yes” to in the future when it makes more sense for your company’s stage.
For Pytel an example of an opinion changing over time was where thoughtbot physically operated. Valuing a connected team, thoughtbot originally had a single Boston office for a number of years due to a conscious decision centered around community. Today, the company has ten offices throughout the world. Part of the decision making process towards expansion resulted from thoughtbot’s team feeling as though they were not having the impact they wanted to have on the world. To grow their impact on the world, the company opened small offices in cities. Small teams maintained a close knit group within each city, while simultaneously allowing individuals to feel as though they were part of something bigger.
The SSC teams participated in a robust question and answer session with Pytel, learning from his experience and advice. Topics ranged from development cycles and team dynamics to continually developing strong skill sets to team communication. The Soaring Startup Circle would like to sincerely thank Chad Pytel for graciously hosting us at thoughbot and sharing his experience with our teams.