The Magic Triangle – An internal lens to build amazing growth companies

If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that I’m particularly keen on finding a way to make magic happen – in every situation. As a startup co-founder, one of the key areas that I get excited about is what makes the magic happen? What is it that makes a certain company explode and seemingly amazing product tank?

Why people in certain companies tattoo their company names (metaphorically) on their hearts and some can’t wait to get out? Why are some companies able to hire great people at lower salaries in spite of better financial options?

What makes the magic happen?

Of course, it’s very hard to see how the magic actually happens unless who are sitting in each of these companies from early to growth stage. For example, we know that in B2B, Salesforce and Hubspot are pretty iconic companies that people want to be part of at any cost and correspondingly so does Apple and Nike in the B2C world.

Without sharing many details about these companies, one thing that most people can attest to is that these companies have the following three ingredients:

  • A clear mission that revolves mostly around challenging the status quo
  • A team of people that believe in the “Why” behind the company’s mission and are committed to it
  • A culture that always defaults to keeping the mission and people together at all costs

So, these three incredibly obviously but extremely hard to pull together ingredients becomes the thesis behind the genesis of the magic triangle – for every successful company has a certain magic and we all want it! While people — employees, customers, and partners — are the secret sauce for any organization, there are other fundamental principles that come into play.

Just like the Golden Circle on “Start with Why” – one of my favorites – focuses on the “Why”, the magic triangle focuses on the “mission” but also gives equal weights to people and culture. So here it is:

Personally, I’ve seen this triangle and its magic come to life in what we’ve started three years ago at Terminus and also at Pardot and Salesforce – the two amazing companies that I had the honor to work at.

At Terminus, our mission has been to empower our customers to be heroes in their organization and our culture revolves around our belief of giving each of our “Terminators” the “Keys to the Ferrari”. Finally, we have been blessed at with an incredible team that believes in this mission, and the problem we’re trying to solve.

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What your mission, vision, and culture should be is entirely up to your company’s leadership team. Every company is unique. There’s no definition of “here’s what your culture should be”, or a prescription for how you should apply this Magic Triangle. It’s a filter, and a lens, to ask yourself these questions:

Do we have a mission that everyone can understand and get behind?

Are we hiring people that believe in this mission?

If employees don’t believe in your mission, then your company ultimately will fail. But let’s say if you have the right people on board who believe in the mission, and things don’t seem to be going right, then ask yourself a tough question: do you have the right cultural foundation to empower these people who believe in this mission to achieve what they need?

Investing in the mission, people, and culture is how the magic happens!

There are limitless possibilities for how magic can be created in every company and I am curious if there are more ingredients than mission, people, and culture that can and should be used. We’ve just scratched the surface of the impact it can make.

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