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While successful culture can look and feel like magic, the truth is that it’s not. Culture is a set of living relationships working toward a shared goal. It’s not something you are. It’s something you do.

Daniel Coyle, The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups

 

This is the operating system for the Scribe Media Tribe. It lays out what we believe, why we believe it, how we live it in our lives, and how we measure it. Every member of the Tribe will be held accountable to the standards outlined here.

What is Our Mission?

What is the shared goal we are all driving toward at Scribe Media?

Our mission is unlocking the world’s wisdom.

How do we do that?

By helping everyone on Earth write, publish, share, and own their story.

What Do We Believe?

What values guide our mission?

  1. People
  2. Results
  3. Responsibility
  4. Excellence
  5. Optimism
  6. Service
  7. Curiosity
  8. Integrity
  9. Courage
  10. Impermanence
  11. Abundance
  12. Fun

What Do We Do?

What do our values look like in action?

1. People: “We Do Right By People”

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

—Dr. Maya Angelou

We care the most about what matters most: People.

We care about each other.

We care about all the people who help us turn the ideas, knowledge, and wisdom of our authors into finished works, and share those finished works so that more people can benefit.

We care about everyone who is impacted by the wisdom we help unlock.

We believe that business is about meeting the needs of people. We show up with empathy, caring, and understanding for people—because people are the point of business.

Each of us at Scribe make a million tiny individual decisions as part of the work of this Tribe. And each decision is an opportunity to do right by a person. The people in this Tribe, the people we serve, the people we work with—everything we do is about people, so if we aren’t doing right by all of those people, what are we doing?

We will always choose to do right by people.

Important note: This doesn’t mean the customer is always right and always gets their way. We don’t believe that at all, actually. (See: Service.)

Sometimes clients evidence no interest in doing right by us. Money doesn’t buy servitude, and abusive clients get fired.

We do right by ourselves just as much as we do right by others. This only happens if we prioritize self-respect and the healthy and appropriate boundaries necessary to enforce that self-respect. (See: Responsibility.)

“Do right by people” is never about sacrificing ourselves. We are also people.

In the end, we won’t be measured by our bank accounts, sales numbers, wins and losses, or the size of the company we built—we will be measured by the difference we made in people’s lives. (See: Results.) We believe that the best way we can make a difference is through our relationships and service to those relationships.

Without those relationships—without people—nothing else matters.

2. Results: “We Get Things Done”

We have a strategic plan. It’s called doing things.

—Herb Kelleher

Candidates in the hiring process often ask, “What does success look like at Scribe?” The answer is simple:

  1. Drive results
  2. Excel at your role
  3. Uphold the values in this Culture Bible

Everyone at Scribe has Role Results that are definitely achievable, clearly written down, and mutually agreed upon. We are all responsible for our Role Results, and we are all accountable to each other in achieving those Results.

You want to work toward those Results from 5am-noon, then spend afternoons with your kids? Great, do it.

How about spending noon-4pm paddle boarding on Town Lake, then working toward Results the rest of the evening? Cool. We mean this. You’re an adult; your time is your own to manage and allocate.

This can be difficult to accept if you’ve learned to use set work hours to enforce your boundaries around work. In the absence of a set schedule, some people spend a majority of their time working because they haven’t learned to set personal boundaries. We believe each of us owns our boundaries, and our personal boundaries cannot be set or maintained by others.

We’re responsible adults who treat each other like responsible adults. We’re not in the business of micromanaging time or grading effort. We do not play the “work theater” game. We trust that you care about the results that drive the Tribe forward, that you care about your own life, and that you will manage your time in the best way for you.

This can create problems for people who are extrinsically motivated by consequences, or those who rely on judgment from another person to hold themselves accountable (in the form of praise, a pay raise, or a punishment). This goes against our definition of Responsibility. If you are driven to achievement by outside forces, this is not the place for you.

In the Tribe, we are intrinsically motivated to contribute. (See: People.) We each take responsibility for our own self-regulation, which includes managing our time and efforts to produce Results.

Is it possible to work very, very hard, to put in above-and-beyond hours, and still not achieve Results?

Yes.

And if this happens, we work with each other to figure out why—and to course-correct action in the direction of Results until Results are achieved.

At Scribe, you do, or you do not. There is no try.

We believe that when you say you’re going to do something, it only matters when you do it.

We begin all discussions with this question: what result are we after? If we can’t answer that question, we’re probably not ready to have the discussion at all.

One obvious way this shows up in our culture is that we don’t have pointless meetings. In fact, our meetings are sharply focused and productive. When there are no action items on an agenda—and therefore no results being driven—the meeting is canceled. We spend as much time as possible doing, and as little time as possible talking about doing.

This also shows up in the way we nurture each other in our personal and professional development. When we give feedback to each other, one of the key requirements of the feedback is that it’s actionable: that the person receiving the feedback can drive a result with it. If the feedback doesn’t increase the potential for results, it’s criticism, not feedback.

We place the highest priority on everyone in the Tribe achieving the Results they commit to, and achieving them at the highest level possible.

3. Responsibility: “We Are In Charge Of Our Reality”

The moment you take responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you can change anything in your life.

—Hal Elrod

In many of the toxic work cultures we’ve seen or been a part of elsewhere, people respond to mistakes defensively, listing the reasons the mistake isn’t their fault. This suggests a judgment-based culture in which people don’t feel safe enough to take accountability—to be responsible for themselves.

That isn’t an accident. If you’re not responsible for yourself, it means someone else is. Which means they are in charge of your reality, not you.

In toxic relationships—like most corporate workplaces, but also in any bad life partnership—that authority over your reality is what’s being purposely reinforced.

At Scribe, we believe we are in charge of our reality, and no one else. And that means we are responsible for ourselves, and no one else.

In other words, we believe every person is wholly responsible for how they show up in each moment.

No one else but you can decide how you’re going to show up. It’s entirely within your control, and therefore it’s entirely your responsibility.

For example, as Tribe members, we’re all responsible for living our culture and for reinforcing our values. This Culture Bible isn’t an incontrovertible set of rules that dictates how we must act. It is an agreement that people voluntarily enter into, and must take personal responsibility for living by.

If any one of us no longer agrees with anything set forth in our Culture Bible, that person is responsible for their actions in response—bringing their ideas up for discussion with the Tribe, and/or mindfully transitioning out of the Tribe if a place of understanding can’t be reached.

In fact, when a Tribe member is having trouble taking accountability for a mistake, our first questions are, “In what way do they not feel safe right now? How can we help them find that safety?” That’s our service mindset at work.

But this is not the same thing as taking responsibility for that person’s feelings and actions. We do not try to “make them feel” comfortable. We do not believe we can make anyone feel anything.

This does not mean we excuse malicious intent under the guise of “just being honest.” Nor do we deny the reality of someone feeling uncomfortable in the environment we’ve created.

We believe we can actively work to build trust in our relationships with each other. We can point to evidence of what is true. We can communicate our internal truth clearly. And we assume each Tribe member is operating with the best intentions. (See: Optimism.) When these actions are taken together, we can co-create an environment that is supportive of all of the Tribe, in which each person is wholly responsible for their own feelings and actions.

This means something wonderful.

Being wholly responsible for our feelings and actions means we are in charge of them.

It means we have total agency over our lives.

It means we can choose any future we want to create for ourselves.

It means that when something bad happens in one moment, we decide the impact it’s going to have on each moment that follows.

As JeVon often says, “It may not be my fault, but it’s my responsibility.”

Responsibility stands in opposition to blame. Blame is the assignment of “right” and “wrong,” which goes against our definition of service. When directed at others or at ourselves, blame diminishes our capacity for optimism.

We celebrate those who take responsibility for their actions, including their mistakes. (See: Integrity.) We view taking responsibility as a strength; it opens the door to learning. When we take responsibility for our mistakes, we cement our trust and mutual respect for each other.

Because when we take responsibility for our circumstances, we acknowledge our ability to respond and to create an abundant reality.

There is a trade-off to these benefits: responsibility is often difficult. Many people gladly hand over responsibility to others, because it can be easier in the short term to let others make decisions for them. Taking responsibility can also be scary, because we could cause unintended harm to others. It can require deep self-examination that can be uncomfortable or even painful.

It also requires accountability, which can feel vulnerable.

And it requires action, which often means risk, which can be scary. Or it can necessitate change, which can be challenging in many ways.

Action and Responsibility go hand in hand. Once we take responsibility, there is no longer an obstacle to taking action. And if we’re able to take action, we believe we have a responsibility to do so.

Only by taking full responsibility for ourselves—for our actions, feelings, mindsets, and how we show up to every situation—can we truly have full control and freedom in our lives.

4. Excellence: “We Have Impeccable Attention to Detail”

Such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.

—J.R.R. Tolkein

We believe in excellence, and we strive to produce it in our work.

Excellence is different from perfection. The idea of perfection is premised upon an end point, a destination at which no more improvement can be made. We don’t believe that is possible.

Furthermore, people often use the idea of perfection as a method of avoidance. Avoidance of action, of creation, of curiosity—and of judgement. “I can’t let anyone see this until it’s perfect.” “Why try? I can’t do it perfectly.” Perfectionism is a state of fear, and fear is the mind killer.

We believe that done is better than perfect, and that excellent is the best way to be done.

Excellence seems like a big concept, but it boils down to one very simple action: impeccable attention to detail.

We have learned the hard way that impeccable attention to details—all details—is necessary for us to do a great job. The path to excellence is paved with attention to detail. If we focus on small, consistent, intentional actions, we achieve extraordinary results.

Take our book creation process, for example. We’ve carefully considered and built our process by way of publishing hundreds of books, and we know what we are doing. Every step is there for a reason, and needs to be done right, because every step is about creating a great book for the Author, as well as a great experience. When we skip steps, we can introduce mistakes, and we fail all the people we serve.

At Scribe, we believe that there are no such things as “low level tasks.” Everything that has to be done is important.

Think taking out the trash doesn’t matter? Well then, leave it alone for a month and see how that goes.

Once, our CEO, JeVon, was walking up the office stairs and noticed some dried coffee drips on the cement. He waited to see if whoever spilled them would clean them up—because, hey, people are busy, and we can’t do everything all at once. Surely they would return to clean it up (we operate with generous intent—see: Optimism).

He waited. And waited. And two weeks later, the coffee stains were still there.

At another company, it may have seemed pedantic and like a waste of time to have a full-blown discussion with the whole Tribe on Slack about coffee drips on the stairs. Not at Scribe. Here, it was a great discussion.

What if the way we absentmindedly spill coffee and then forget to clean it up extends to how we do our work?

What if the care we take in carrying our coffee and cleaning it up if it spills illustrates the same care we take in all our actions and relationships?

Practicing impeccable attention to detail means being generous with our attention. We pay attention to all the details of our work together, regardless whether they’re explicit responsibilities in our roles. Excellence requires us to be co-creators of our results and our reality. (See: Responsibility.)

At Scribe, we believe that the way we do the little things is the way we do the big things. Excellence is created by many thousands of millisecond-length decisions that create actions that create results.

5. Optimism: “We Act With Generous Intent”

No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.

—Helen Keller

At Scribe, we believe optimism is both a skill and a superpower.

Optimism is a skill in that it can be practised, coached, learned and improved. We believe our level of optimism is always our choice and within our power to control.

Optimism is a super power, because when applied correctly, an optimistic Tribe can do anything. Belief is the first step to any accomplishment, and optimism is the precursor to belief.

Our optimism is not blind, nor does it ignore reality, nor pretend that trade-offs don’t exist.

And our optimism is never about plastering a fake smile on our faces in the face of real pain and suffering.

We draw a distinction between optimism and positivity. Positivity is a quality of attitude that can be misused to wallpaper over reality. Optimism is a quality of attention that acknowledges reality while focusing our actions on the most beneficial outcome.

Our optimism is that we can—and will—find a way to succeed, no matter what happens. We will work through, and learn from, whatever problems or obstacles arise.

We truly believe we will create the lives and the reality we want as long as we believe we can, and we put in the necessary work.

What our optimism looks like in practice:

  • We believe in people, including ourselves.
  • We trust ourselves and each other to enter situations with the best intentions.
  • We look for the good in others’ actions; we don’t assume selfish intent.
  • We act with generous intent.
  • We assume everyone is doing the best they can, because we know we are doing the best we can.
  • We see challenges as opportunities for learning and growth.
  • We focus our discussions not on what’s bad, but what could be better.
  • We expect the best for ourselves and the people we work with and serve.
  • We face uncertainty with the confidence that together we will create clarity.

6. Service: “We Decide What’s Best, Not Who’s Right”

At the center of the Universe is a loving heart that continues to beat and wants the best for every person. Anything that we can do to help foster the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow human beings, that is our job. Those of us who have this particular vision must continue against all odds. Life is for service.

—Fred Rogers

Service boils down to a very simple action: meeting someone’s needs.

And it’s impossible to meet someone’s needs if you’re in judgment of that need.

In a judgment mindset, problem-solving begins with questions like:

“Are they allowed to ask for this?”
“Are they right or wrong for wanting this?”
Or, even: “Is this thing they need/want dumb, and are they dumb for needing/wanting it?”

Who cares?

Those questions can only lead in the direction of deciding who’s “right.” In our culture, deciding who’s “right” is not our goal or destination. In fact, we don’t care about that at all.

No one gets points for “being right,” and no one loses points for “being wrong,” because there are no “points” in the first place. We’re not playing a game. We’re serving our mission.

We care about deciding what’s best. And to move in that direction, we choose a service mindset.

Our problem-solving begins with questions like:

“What do they/we need?”
“What do they/we want?”
“Does that need/want serve their mission?”
“Does it serve our mission?”
“Is it within our power to meet that need/want?”
“Can we do it while still holding healthy boundaries for ourselves?”
“What are the ways we can meet it?”
“Of those ways, what is the way that serves everyone best?”

That last question is key. Service to others is not defined by self-sacrifice. (See: People.) Love is wanting what’s best for someone without taking responsibility for them. Love requires honesty, connection, advocacy, boundaries, and trust in those we love to make their own choices. Service is an extension of love.

When someone requests something that doesn’t serve our mission or theirs, we open an honest discussion about the impact we’re seeking together. We focus our efforts on the greatest impact possible, toward results that drive our mission as well as the mission of those we seek to serve.

This way of thinking simplifies our problem-solving and actions. It allows us to define everything we do with one simple question:

“Does this action serve the people we work with and support (including us)?”

If it does, then we’re in.

If it doesn’t, why do it?

7. Curiosity: “We Ask Questions”

In most places, you can get fired for asking too many questions. At Scribe, you can get fired for not asking enough questions.

—JeVon McCormick

We’ve found that many new people at Scribe are afraid to ask questions. Why?

One reason is that they believe everyone knows the answer but them, and they don’t want to look foolish.

But on a deeper level, many people have learned to stop asking questions because questions can be threatening, especially to those in power. Or they can threaten people’s sense of self, when their identity is based on being the “smartest” or the “best.” Simply put, asking questions has gotten them in trouble in the past. These people have experienced parents, teachers, and bosses getting upset at them for asking questions.

In essence, many people have been taught that to be curious is to be disobedient.

Obedience has no place in our culture. (See: Responsibility.) As a Tribe, we choose a curious mindset.

We express this mindset with a simple action: if you don’t know or understand something, ask questions.

We believe there is a time and place to ask questions: always, and everywhere.

In fact, questions are an act of service for others. If you have a question, it’s likely someone else in the room has the same question.

Questions force us to explain something—not just the decision, but the entire chain of thinking that led to it, put into the context of our goals. Questions not only make things clearer for the questioner, but force us all to ensure that we actually know what we’re talking about. We’re all better off when anyone asks questions.

We prioritize learning over knowing. We enter situations and discussions with the assumption that we don’t know everything and that we definitely have things to learn. In fact, we believe we always have more to learn, and our passion for expanding our knowledge and ability will always outweigh our hunger for approval or fear of looking ignorant.

Our culture is a non-judgmental environment where any question is encouraged. Nothing is off the table.

This means that people in Scribe feel free to openly ask about things they don’t understand or are curious about without feeling like they will be persecuted, jumped on, criticized, or shamed.

Many people are conditioned to think that questions need to be complicated or nuanced. Otherwise, how will the other person know we were listening?

We know that even the most basic and simple questions show the questioner’s care, and can lead to discussions that open up new levels of understanding for everyone.

It is never too late to ask questions, just as it is never too late to take responsibility. We serve others by continuing to learn, and using our knowledge to improve our results.

Curiosity requires thinking for ourselves. Part of asking questions is questioning everything. We take the time to think strategically and mindfully about our work and the results we’re driving toward for ourselves, the Tribe, and those we serve.

A curious mindset also means that we are open to shifting our beliefs. You’ll see people shift their positions constantly in this Tribe—they’ll advocate passionately for one side, but when they see evidence that contradicts it, they’ll often switch and argue for the opposite.

Or, in other words, when people learn new things, they sometimes change their minds.

This is a good thing. We are not the people we were last week, last year, or twenty years ago. We are constantly learning, and so we are constantly changing. This includes changing our minds. (See: Impermanence.)

The opposite of curiosity is a fixed mindset—and in its most extreme form, dogma, which we wholly reject. A closed and locked mind has no place in our culture.

Without curiosity, nothing moves forward. Nothing is learned, nothing is discussed, and nothing is decided. Curiosity also enables service; only by seeking to understand someone can you truly serve their needs.

Asking questions is imperative to creating the results we need.

Curiosity is the means by which we get things done.

“Be curious, not judgemental. – Walt Whitman” – Ted Lasso

8. Integrity: “We Are Honest With Ourselves and Others”

The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.

—Carl Jung

At Scribe, we deeply believe in telling the truth.

But telling others the truth begins with telling ourselves the truth. Honesty doesn’t just mean being honest with everyone around us. True honesty involves carefully examining ourselves as well, seeking to acknowledge and understand our own beliefs, and following the same principles of curiosity, accountability, and ownership that we employ in the rest of our actions.

We decided that the best word to describe this concept is integrity.

We operate with integrity. Without an individual and collective commitment to integrity, pretty much everything else in this Culture Bible falls apart.

A commitment to integrity is the only way an individual can truly discern what matters to them, to who they are. It’s the only way they can truly know what they want. If you’re not honest with yourself about who you are and what you want, it’s impossible to take responsibility for your personal learning and growth. It’s impossible to live authentically.

Integrity is especially important as we strive toward excellence as a Tribe. The only way to create an environment of learning, sharp decision making, and perpetual improvement is to tell ourselves, and each other, the truth.

This means we invite discussion around any issues that arise, even if the discussion is uncomfortable, confusing, ambiguous, or disruptive to the status quo. We recognize that progress does not happen by only venting behind closed doors. If you find yourself complaining to yourself, but not saying anything constructive to the Tribe, you are violating this value.

We ask questions, even when doing so is scary or uncomfortable.

We examine how our actions align with our values, both individually and collectively.

We speak our truth, even if it challenges others.

We give honest, candid, kind, timely, and actionable feedback to all members of the Tribe.

We speak clearly, because clarity is kindness.

And yes, all this can require a great deal of courage.

When an individual is not committed to internal honesty, and expressing this as not telling their Tribe the truth, they’re not helping themselves or everyone else in the Tribe to take accountability, take action, and drive forward a solution.

Without integrity, we’re all stuck.

In practice, our integrity looks like:

  • Being curious about our innermost beliefs, in order to understand ourselves
  • Taking responsibility for our experience and our actions
  • Aligning our actions with our values and needs
  • Identifying our needs and expressing them with clarity and kindness
  • Giving honest, kind feedback to everyone we serve

9. Courage: “We Bring Our Whole Selves to Work”

To scale daring leadership and build courage in teams and organizations, we have to cultivate a culture in which brave work, tough conversations, and whole hearts are the expectation, and armor is not necessary or rewarded.

—Brené Brown

Our CEO likes to say, “Work life balance is bullshit! It’s just life.”

This does not mean you shouldn’t hold healthy boundaries around the role of your work in your life. What he means is that work is an integral part of life, and the idea that you can’t share every part of who you are with all parts of your life is toxic.

We believe work should be a harmonious part of life.

We believe in total life alignment.

Because of this, we believe that work life and personal life should not have artificial walls between them.

Walls are not the same as boundaries. We use walls to block others or isolate parts of ourselves. We use boundaries to show up as our whole selves while caring for our personal needs. Boundaries allow each of us to show up in our full integrity. We do not shapeshift in order to belong, because that would mean violating our personal values and boundaries.

At its core, a relationship with a human is the same at work as it is anywhere else. We honor all of ourselves and each other.

We share our goals and achievements, failures and celebrations with each other, because there is no greater bond than building things together. Relationships are necessary to create results. Plainly put, we bring our whole selves to our work.

This means that emotions and feelings are a huge part of our daily conversation. And why shouldn’t they be? Our emotions are an intrinsic part of who we are. They are part of our whole selves. Talking about our emotions openly, bringing them into coaching and feedback conversations, and creating a non-judgmental space to speak truthfully about how we feel is what allows each of us to take full responsibility for our emotions.

We take this seriously. We’re each 100% responsible for our own feelings, and we support and nurture each other in this responsibility.

This is also where this value is most commonly misinterpreted. Bringing your whole self does require vulnerability, and some people find it tricky to balance vulnerability and responsibility.

At Scribe, we choose to create an environment where our emotions are as much an expected part of our whole selves as every other part of ourselves. We support each other in our personal development as much as our professional development, because to us, they are one and the same.

This should not be misconstrued as an environment where feelings are paramount, to the exclusion of all our values—especially ones like Results and Responsibility.

Vulnerability ends at the boundary of personal responsibility.

In other words, Bringing Your Whole Self To Work and making yourself vulnerable doesn’t earn you a free pass out of being responsible for your emotions, actions, and results.

Moreover, making yourself vulnerable can never be at the expense of another Tribe member’s personal boundaries.

But vulnerability and responsibility? That takes courage.

To truly live many of our values is to be courageous. This is nowhere more true than in bringing our whole selves to work. Bringing our whole selves requires trust, optimism, integrity, and action—and most of all, courage.

It takes inner courage to know yourself: to understand how your ego shapes your behavior, to look for your blind spots, to feel what you truly feel, to grow and change. It takes outer courage to share yourself: to speak up for your self worth, to share your inner world, and to risk judgment by being exactly who you are.

No one can tell you what your authentic self is “supposed” to look like. Only you can uncover who you authentically are, in your own time and in your own way. No one can dictate what growth looks like for another person.

When we recognize that each person’s authentic self—and their journey to uncovering it—is different, we get to learn from each person’s unique story and experience. This is why, when we bring new members into the Tribe, we call them “Culture Adds” rather than “culture fits.” Conformity kills diversity.

When you’re in the Tribe, we want to meet YOU. Together we can create an environment where we share learning and model growth for one another, but it cannot be done for you—and it cannot be done without you.

For many new Tribe members, courage takes time. We call it the “trust curve.” Coming from other workplaces, especially toxic ones, where bringing your whole self is discouraged, it can be hard to trust that what’s written in this Culture Bible is real.

That’s fine. There is no rush, and we never ask anyone to believe the culture on faith. (See: Curiosity.) You will see and feel the difference, and you can open up in your own time, as you feel it appropriate and safe to do so.

Once a new Tribe member sees the evidence they need to trust, they are responsible for the courageous step of bringing their whole self.

10. Impermanence: “We Embrace Change”

The most important thing to remember is this: To be ready at any moment to give up what you are for what you might become.

—W.E.B. Du Bois

It’s common to fear change. Change can be a deeply uncomfortable state. Change brings uncertainty, and for many people, uncertainty registers in the brain as failure.

However, change is inevitable. The only thing certain in life is change, and to not acknowledge this fact would be violating our value of Integrity.

We believe that change and evolution are inevitable, and we’re committed to rolling with the punches. As much as possible, we let go of attachment to the way things are, and open our minds to the way things could be. By acknowledging the truth of what is and what’s changing, we can take responsibility for the reality we choose to create.

Instead of fighting or denying the impermanence of life, we choose to lean into it. We embrace change.

In essence, we know everything we are doing now is going to be replaced eventually by something else. All we are responsible for deciding is the direction and type of change.

This means that we always do our best in the moment, but we always expect to find a better way later on. There’s never going to be anything permanent about how we do things. There’s only going to be the permanent goal of serving our mission, never a permanent path to that goal.

Embracing change means that we recognize and celebrate who we are today, and also remain open to who we will become. We enjoy the experience of the present while acknowledging that it will ultimately pass into the future.

This value became more important than ever in the past two years (at the time of writing). We’ve expanded our Tribe by 3x in around eighteen months’ time. This rapid growth meant that what was once a small, tightly-knit Tribe grew into a much larger Tribe with a culture that had evolved.

Every person who comes into the Tribe changes the Tribe. We embrace this inevitability. Because we each take ownership of shaping our reality moment by moment, change can be sparked by every person. Thus, as the company grew, we rewrote this document to reflect all we have learned and who we have grown into.

For those who had been around since the early days of the Tribe, it felt a little like letting go of something precious to make space for something just as wonderful—but undeniably different.

It required releasing our attachment to “the way things are” and leaning into change. When we embrace change, we can be intentional in guiding the direction of change.

Nothing will ever be permanent, and that’s great. That means our potential is limitless.

11. Abundance: “We All Rise Together”

A thousand candles can be lit from the flame of one candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness can be spread without diminishing that of yourself.

―Buddha

At Scribe, we choose a “we all rise together” mentality. This means that any decision we make individually or as a Tribe springs from this directive:

Always make the right decision for the Tribe as a whole, and trust that in doing so, you’re also making the right decision for yourself.

For most incoming Tribe members, this is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) mindset shifts from their former workplaces. It’s pervasive in typical corporate culture to operate with a scarcity mindset: “Everyone out for themselves—I’m getting mine.”

At Scribe, we are diametrically opposed to this type of scarcity mindset. We believe that all of us can “get ours” together, without anyone else having to be deprived.

We believe in and act with abundance.

We don’t believe that good decisions for the Tribe take away from good decisions for ourselves as individuals. If they do, they’re definitively not good decisions for the Tribe, because each individual is a member of the Tribe. We believe that success is not a zero sum game.

In practice, this means that if a Tribe member consistently leaps over their personal self-care boundaries to do more work for the Tribe, they are actually harming the Tribe. Each individual’s actions create our culture as a whole, and a Tribe member who relinquishes boundaries can start a contagion in which others expect the same from themselves. Hurting oneself hurts the Tribe. Holding healthy boundaries helps the Tribe. (See: Responsibility.)

“We all rise together” does not mean we avoid highlighting, celebrating, or rewarding outstanding individual achievement. Quite the contrary; we constantly highlight, celebrate, and reward individual achievement because it has a direct positive impact on the results of the Tribe (we even have a Celebrations channel on Slack for this explicit purpose).

Additionally, we emphasize valuing, recognizing, and honoring everyone in their role and their contributions, because then they feel a greater sense of connection and trust. When everyone in the Tribe feels this way, the coordinated group effort of the Tribe is amplified. The individual elevates the whole, and the whole in turn elevates the individual.

This value at work can be seen clearly in our Tribe members. Those who have excelled the most are those who have contributed the most—and their contributions and decision-making have always arisen from a “we all rise together” mindset. There is a direct correlation between “we all rise together” and overall success at Scribe.

We operate with a belief in our limitless potential and the many wonderful rewards we will all enjoy if we stay true to our mission, our values, and our principles. In other words, we all rise together.

12. Fun: “We Enjoy Our Lives, Our Work, and Each Other”

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

—Mae West

This Culture Bible is about values we take seriously.

Well, this is the one we take the most seriously:

Work should be fun.

No need to overcomplicate this concept. We all know what fun is.

Sure, work is sometimes hard. There are long hours, tough conversations, challenging problems, and—as dreaded by toxic work cultures—feelings, so many feelings!

But on the whole? What we do is fun.

We’re an amazing Tribe serving an important mission. We work with phenomenal people on all fronts. We get to hang out with our friends helping people tell and share their stories all day.

This is something to be enjoyed!

Fun brings people together like nothing else. It enriches our experience, relieves stress, and bonds our relationships. It sparks creativity and promotes the endless possibility we refer to when we talk about growth.

As a creative, people-driven company, our work is better when we have fun. Whether we’re having fun because we’re mastering something, connecting with ourselves or others, playing with new ideas, or just feeling a sense of freedom from completing our work the way we want to, our quality goes up when we’re in a state of flow.

It’s not just us. Many of civilization’s greatest accomplishments have come from play. Some of the world’s most important archaeological sites are places where ancient peoples gathered to socialize, connect, and play.

Fun builds trust. Play leads to creativity, innovation, and greater motivation. It infuses our work and our results with joy. Fun makes it easy to bring our whole selves to work, because there’s no need to separate parts of one’s life when all of it feels life-giving. Play is courageous.

No, this doesn’t mean we have foosball tables everywhere. We don’t do “fun theater”.

We actually believe our work is fun.

And if it’s not, we figure out what needs to change, and take action to make it so.

We believe this about our lives in general. Life is to be enjoyed. Work is an intrinsic part of life, and there’s no need to compartmentalize it into a “no fun zone”.

Tribe members often say that a strange phenomenon of being part of our culture is that, usually around three to six months after starting, they will notice someone else in their life say something like, “Thank god it’s Friday!” or, “Ugh, tomorrow’s Monday.” Or the classic, “Same shit, different day.”

It’s an amazing (if initially odd) moment when you realize that you haven’t thought of life that way in a while. That your life is no longer Weekdays=Work, Weekends=Fun. That you no longer relate to the concept of TGIF.

JeVon likes to say, “Don’t sacrifice 5 for 2.” Trading 5 days of your week for 2 days off where you feel like you’re truly living your life—that’s a raw deal. For so many people, work is about escape: get to the weekend, stick it out until the vacation, finally retire. The premise of this mindset is, you can have fun in the future. Sacrifice the now.

Our response: maybe you should set up a life for yourself that you don’t need to escape from.

Because we believe we are in charge of our own reality, we believe that if we are miserable—in a job, in a relationship, in any circumstance, in any moment—we have the power to examine why, take responsibility, and change it. So why not choose to have fun now?

We only have one life. Work will always be part of it. We expect to enjoy our work just as much as the rest of our lives, and we won’t settle for anything less.