This insight helped me feel confident in setting the right company culture at 10 employees and beyond

Alex Sambvani
2 min readMay 5, 2022

Healthy company culture is essential. IMO, you have to think about culture as early as possible when company building. I realized after hitting ten employees at Slang . ai that my initial mental model for culture was wrong! I’ll explain 🧵

I used to think that culture = family. If you have a culture that feels warm & fuzzy and everyone gets along, then you’ve nailed it. Sounds nice, but that’s not what you want.

What you really want is an “elite sports team.” I don’t love sports analogies (overused in biz), and yet, I still love this framing. Elite sports teams can still feel supportive like families, but they’re different in that everyone has a clear role and everyone must perform.

Families, on the other hand, operate under the premise of unconditional love. You are in the family no matter how much value you add or how you behave. Families are supposed to feel safe.

You do want your team to feel a sense of psychological safety, but you also want them to feel healthy pressure. On great sports teams, what happens when you don’t perform? Your teammates call you out and encourage you to do better. And if you can’t do better, you get benched.

Further, on sports teams, top performers are acknowledged, respected, and maybe even revered. You want top performers at your company to be clearly acknowledged so that their behavior is modeled by other employees that need clear guidance on how to succeed.

Read this post and more on my Typeshare Social Blog

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Alex Sambvani

Co-founder and CEO @ Slang.ai. On a mission to improve phone-based customer service.