XENTAURS IS NOT A COMPANY
WE ARE A CULTURE
The Xentaurs Culture
by Juan Guevara, Xentauri #1. Biz Dev & Strategy
I am always perplexed when I hear managers saying “he/she is overqualified”. Why wouldn’t you hire someone that will elevate the position, and the entire team as a consequence, from the start? Maybe lack of confidence, power-struggle, or immaturity as a leader that doesn’t realize that a team is as strong as its weakest member? A leader should act as an agent to its team, always representing their best interest and making sure its value always increases. Leading a group of talented people that truly believe and enjoy the game it is simply the most personal and professional rewarding experience any leader can have.
Xentaurs leaders will naturally raise to the top and will always be elected from within, not by previous accomplishments or by self-promotion but from their present merit of being the right individual for what’s at stake for that team today. The Xentaurs Culture built on Trust, Excellence, Camaraderie and Humanity.
When we left our last jobs to start Xentaurs, we left behind great friends and a very promising career that paid very well. Everyone thought we were making a mistake, even I questioned myself on couple occasions. It is always tough to leave your comfort behind, especially when you are the first to jump into the unknown. You have to abandon advice from family, mentors, friends, even common sense to pursuit a dream that only few can see as clearly as you.
Our objective when asking someone to join a team is to make sure we are convinced we’re giving them the best opportunity available, and that each individual’s interest matches the interest of the team. The goal is to build a long lasting relationship with each member, something that outlasts the working relationship we are about to forge. If we hire rockstars it won’t take long for them to figure out things aren’t as good as promised or to receive better offers.
One of the best traits any team member can have is to recognize the role they play. The role isn’t necessarily what has been assigned, or what everyone thinks that role is. The best players know in their heart what is that makes them tick and what is the function they can naturally do. They will bring in their very best if they feel everyone else is doing the same. When there is trust in a team, everyone works their ass off even when they’re not physically together. Xentaurs exists today because from the get go, we have all known what role we play and we assumed it without asking for permission or acceptance.
Unfortunately, most companies or teams always structure themselves in a way that makes it difficult for players to change their roles or position themselves best depending on the situation or need. People change over time due to priorities, personal events, or other circumstances. Making someone play a specific role only based on what they did or who they were in the past is not a good rule.
One of our strong foundations is Holacracy. Holacracy is a system where authority and decision making is distributed throughout self-organized teams, as opposed to the traditional management hierarchy.
A “V formation” (sometimes called a skein) is the symmetric V-shaped flight formation of flights of geese, ducks, and other migratory birds. It is also a common formation in fighting jets. The differences between birds and machines are big besides the obvious, and you probably would assume that powerful jets are the best to execute such formation, but not in every scenario. The geese formation is much more efficient in certain circumstances; they can go for up to 70 hours non-stop using fat reserves. They also don’t have a defined position when flying. With fighter jets, the squadron leader is always the same person. With the Geese, someone assumes the leader position when they take off, and they rotate as they go depending on the conditions. They also don’t have a fixed formation when flying, they can fly on the outside or the inside and achieve the same result. If a goose falls sick and has to land, is common that one other goose that stays behind. They do all of this by instinct, there is no communication radios or manuals, they just make it happen. This is what Xentaurs envisions for its culture, a deep strong natural instinct where its members are encouraged to assume different roles for the greater good.
Xentaurs believes that peers are the best to make judgement on who plays what role. Of course, there is no one system or process that applies to everything. At the end we will have our own version of Holacracy that applies best to us, but we will continue to build a strong foundation to support our reason to exist: To create a home of meritocracy & Holacracy where technologist aficionados will thrive.
I get asked many times what is the most difficult part of building a team. I have had the honor to lead several world-class teams when launching practices and start-ups in the past. I wish there was a formula for building a good team, I could just replicate it every time but building a team requires patience, trial and error, external dynamics outside of your control, but ultimately you need to follow your instinct looking at a long term holistic play. Your ultimate goal is to blur the line between personal and business amongst the team. There will be bumps and players that will come and go because of different situations but peer-to-peer relationships will create a personal bond that will transcend into the business aspects. When people know their teammates really care for them, they will reciprocate creating the ideal environment I called “Comradery”.
The biggest reward of starting a team when the perceived risk is high or when there is no clear path to follow, is the comradery and trust that develops amongst the members. My best friends in both my professional and personal life have been forged at the beginning of a venture, relationships get tested in a short amount of time due to the intensity of the endeavor. These friendships alone make Xentaurs a priceless experience for us joining in early.
We all have an entrepreneurial spirit inside us, and we believe that TIMING is the single most important factor behind the success of a company. We knew the time was now to launch something that has been missing in the technology channel for some time. The majority of the employees of these companies are technologists, people that got in that field because they love what they do. However, in most cases they are not recognized or celebrated accordingly beyond verbal acknowledgements. We believe recognition should be part of the culture’s DNA, the way comp is structured, the weight of their voice, how we all behave and treat others.
We define our peer to peer relationships at Xentaurs as true Comradery – the fidelity that exists between peers that have experienced the crucible of combat together. We expect everyone to treat colleagues with loyalty and respect, this will always make an unbreakable bond at the personal level even during the different tough times every company faces during its existence.
I heard a very respected CEO I worked under once say “Life doesn’t give you what you deserve, life gives you what you negotiate”. He was 100% spot on because that is the culture that has been created in our industry. At Xentaurs, we are Bringing Sexy Merit Back! We believe that you should be able to get what you deserve, without having to negotiate.
The year Xentaurs was founded we lost one of the greatest fighters in history, Muhammed Ali. He thrived to establish himself inside and outside of his profession, there was no need for that but he understood the importance of always being the best for reasons above himself. Here is one of his many famous quotes, “Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”
We are not looking to grow in large numbers, we are looking to continue being an elite group and grow organically. We have plans to scale big but we will always be known for our excellence. We define Excellence as the talent or quality that is above and beyond normal standards.
I’m sure all of you have heard about Meritocracy. It is a system that rewards talent & hard work almost exclusively. Most of us come from places where reputation precedes individuals and they are compensated based on historical accomplishments and not necessarily on present or ongoing merit. In some cases we find ourselves having to champion against our own peers or constantly negotiating with those responsible for our success. Some of the best technologists out there are humble individuals that work them assess off and won’t spend time telling everyone about it, they feel they’re just doing their job.
We believe that the company should have a system where people can focus on doing what they love and be recognized for it in one way or the other.
We expect every Xentauri to be the best at what they do and promote accountability and dedication. Our goal is that every individual representing the brand is 100% focused and committed to the cause, they owe it to the people they care about.
Xentaurs is not a corporate entity, it is a conglomerate of humans that have achieved or have the potential to achieve all the traits mentioned above. We demand everyone to be genuine and transparent. We need to allow individuals to be who they are because Xentaurs is a family. Most of the time we spend more time with our work colleagues than we spend with our own families, so why not make an environment where you can be yourself and have a great quality of life while doing your job. We want your loved ones to also be part of this, we want every one you care about to read this and support your vote of confidence in becoming a Xentaur. We expect to meet and spend quality time with those special in your life, we will owe our success to them as much if not more that we will owe it to you.
Once you have accomplished your immediate goals, always remember to give back to others. We all remember the “Think Different Campaign” from Apple. They chose a diversity of people with complete different backgrounds, different accomplishments and very different motivations. But they all had one thing in common, they live a life bigger than themselves, something the world will always remember them for. Let’s make Xentaurs something very special, something that will be remembered and will make us very proud. Let’s do this while having a lot of fun.
If you are thinking, who the hell are these guys comparing themselves to those companies, or that we are shooting for the impossible, let me finish with another quote from The Greatest: “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
• Juan Guevara •