Monday, August 14, 2006

Apres Moi...

This past weekend, I finished reading an excellent history of a relatively young company we all know. It was written by one of the founders. The author details the trials and tribulations of the early days, with the usual multitudes of naysayers. (In fact, some time ago, I met with a major venture capitalist who said that he had declined to fund the company because he thought the whole concept was stupid.)

I especially appreciated the author's mea culpas regarding product introductions that he thought were off-mission - but which in the end turned out to fuel the company's growth.

But one thing that really bothered me was the prevalent use of the first person "I." The book is all about how "I" created the company, and how "My" vision was critical to its success, and how proud "I" am of what "I" created.

To be fair, he does cite his senior management team members many times in the story. But in the end, it is all about "I."

Now, if there is one thing I have learned over my 20+ year career, it is that few enduring great initiatives, companies, or organizations are based on "I". Instead, they are based on "We."

Things that are based on "I" can burn bright for a short period, but then usually burn out. Things based on "We" endure.

We have a great team here at GlobalGiving, and by that I mean not only those of us on staff, but also the community of project leaders and donors. I am proud to have been one of the founders, and I am lucky to work with a great bunch of people. But our success - hopefully an enduring one - is built on the "We" of the GlobalGiving community, and not just on "me."