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Published on April 22, 2006 By Draginol In Business

Over the past several months we've been hiring a lot of people.  So this weekend I decided to put together a little orientation power point that our HR people can eventually use to help introduce new people to the company.

One of the things I wanted to put in there (and did) was our overall philosophy. "The Stardock Way" if you will. I've posted about it before but I've modified it as I've learned more on business and life in general.

Here's the 10 rules we use to guide ourselves by:

  1. Nice Guys Finish First.
  2. Our customers are part of our team.
  3. Perfect is the enemy of good
  4. Win people over through kindness.
  5. Success is based on having lots of other people wanting you to succeed.
  6. Loyalty matters.
  7. Ideas are cheap.
  8. Do not create work for other people.
  9. Don’t sweat what “other people” are doing.
  10. Learn from your competitors

Nice Guys Finish First...

I mean that. People who are ruthless and mean and take no prisoners don't end up doing well in general. It's hard enough to succeed as-is, it's even harder if you end up with people against you.  The whole "Godfather" style strategies I sometimes see people forget ignore the fact that the lead character in that inherited his empire. If you're pulling yourself up by the bootstraps, you should be cultivating friends and the best way to do that is to be an honest, decent human being.

Our customers are part of our team

I like to make software where I get real-time feedback from the people who would buy it. All our betas allow customers to give feedback. We do not usually have "free" betas. We almost always require the person to pre-order because we want to hear from people who are interested in the game enough to be a customer.

Perfect is the enemy of good

This is really the most important rule in many respects. The # of people who fail because they don't know when to stop working on something is immense.  Even as I made my power point, I saw the temptation to start tweaking the order of the slides, the layout, and other things that would have added little to the presentation but increased the effort significantly.  What happens is that people who strive only for perfection either never finish or -- far more commonly -- never try because they know how much work something is.

Win people through kindness

This is a hard one for me personally. My instinct is to vigorously defend my positions. I can be pretty aggressive on-line.  But in general, it's far better to try to win people over by being a decent person than to beat them down with a superior argument or through force.

Success..

This is really a crucial one. To be successful, you really need other people to want you to be successful. The best way to do that is to set things up so that other people do well when you do well. Make every situation a win-win situation so that as you benefit, they benefit. And therefore they have a vested interest in you benefiting.

Loyalty Matters

Being loyal to people and companies usually pays off in the long run.  Not always, but it's come up often enough that I'm a big believer in being loyal which is my natural inclination anyway.

Ideas are cheap

One of my biggest pet peeves are people who think ideas are somehow hard to come up with. I regularly get submissions for product ideas, game ideas, etc. in which they just need our company to "build it".  "OH really? Thanks! Wow, all we have to do is take your 10 page idea and spend the next 2 years of our lives making it and you'll share any revenue 50/50?" 

Everyone has ideas. Many people have good ideas. Ideas are meaningless. It's the people who can make an idea into a reality that matter. That's where the value comes in.

Do not create work for others

I have to be careful about how I present this. Managers should always make sure that those who work with them (i.e. answer to them) have plenty of work.  That's not what I'm talking about.  What I am talking about are people who come up with ideas or commit someone else who doesn't answer to them to work.  In big companies, sales people are notorious for this kind of thing as they promise a customer features that they don't have to work on.

What we always frown on are people who come up with "ideas" and then try to aggressively get someone else to actually do the work to make it happen when those people don't work for them.

Another way of putting this is -- nothing is impossible for the person who doesn't have to do it.

Don't sweat what other people are doing

One of the quickest ways to kill any joy out of the workplace is to get a few people who worry about "fairness" in the workplace.  They poke and nose around to see if anyone else is getting some perk or getting anything more than they think they deserve. Those people are poison and I make it my business to try to look for that sort of thing where I work and eliminate it when found.

It doesn't hurt you if someone else's monitor is a little bigger. Or if someon else gets to work at home on Tuesdays. Or if someone else's PC is 10% faster than yours. Or if someone else has a nicer car.

If you're worried about fairness too much then you're doomed and should just get used to being a bitter person. Unless your management is clueless (of course, people who worry about fairness all the time always think management is blind) you can be pretty sure that they are making sure that there is a general equity going on.

We reward people who work hard and get more done. And we don't reward people who are doing the bear minimum. If John is coming in sometimes at 11am it may be because John was working until 3am the night before from home and that management is aware of it. If Sally is working home on Tuesday it may mean they are taking a slight salary hit for it or their job isn't affected by location as much or that they're not in any sort of crunch time.  There's a lot of reasons and as soon as you start sweating what other people are doing, you create an atmosphere where you have "rules" that make everyone have to abide by the lowest common denominator.

Learn from your competitors

I generally assume my competitors know more than I do.  I try to see what others are doing and see if I can learn something from them. Sometimes I don't but often I do.  Never assume that your competitors are stupid or don't know what they're doing. If they're successful, there's probably a good reason for it.


Comments (Page 1)
on Apr 22, 2006
really great ideas that can be applied to one's personal life too!
on Apr 22, 2006
I'm glad to see these values alive and well. I have come to appreciate and respect Stardock's policies, attitude and customer service. Keep up the good work!
on Apr 22, 2006
Darn it Brad, you really need to copyright / patent those ideas, turn the presentation into a nice PDF, and package it up for a heckuva lot of other companies to use to get their --it straight.

Seriously, a lot of what you've put there is simple, common sensical stuff, and yet it's very often overlooked by a lot of companies that search all over the place for the success they had right within their reach. A past employer of mine is a terrific example for that sort of problem. They paid a ton of money to over-priced consultants to come in and give them feel good reviews and tell them what they needed to do, all the while ignoring communications problems that had long existed, and continue to exist to this day.

Communications is always one of the most important things to put a priority on, and yet many don't give it a thought. If you are able to communicate with your customers, and communicate with your employees and superiors, everyone wins, and everyone gets the messages you've noted in your presentation below.
on Apr 22, 2006
(or noted in the presentation above ^^ (it was below when I was typing the reply silly folks ))
on Apr 23, 2006
Rule number 11....

Discount the previous 10 rules.
on Apr 23, 2006
This is an incredibly insightful list of rules to live by. I am very pleased to see such integrity and strong values present in your life and your company. You've gone to some length in the explanation to note how these virtues actually pay dividends, but the fact that you really seem to believe that they do speaks volumes of you.

I'm very glad a company who has a person like you at its head is doing well.

I'm personally going to try to keep number 9 in mind in my dealings.
on Apr 23, 2006
Rule number 11....Discount the previous 10 rules.


Ah, I see. So either:

1) You are running your more successful company contrary to these rules and disagree wholeheartedly, or

2) You feel that Draginol is lying or misrepresenting his values for some reason (probably personal gain, either through reputation or in the hopes that a competitor will adopt these faulty rules and run their business into the ground).

Get real. No, wait. Get bent.

This might not mean anything to Draginol, but I'm proud that he holds these values, and I believe him when he says he lets them guide him.
on Apr 23, 2006
I'm just tired of these jumper wearing "businessmen" who give false ideas to people who might be starting out in business that it is like running a spastic group.
on Apr 23, 2006
I'm just tired of these jumper wearing "businessmen" who give false ideas to people who might be starting out in business that it is like running a spastic group.


These aren't false ideas, they're the cornerstone of any decent business.
If you're "tired of these jumper wearing businessmen" then take your business elsewhere! Anyone who hides his/her identity behind "anonymous" is no more than a chicken that's afraid to speak their mind ( if they can spare a piece of it) legitimately.

While I"m not sure what the dickens a spastic group is, I do know that you're a piece of work.
on Apr 24, 2006
I can't find any fault in any of the 10. I like them, and especially the first. I've always tried to live up to that one myself. I don't always succeed, but I try.
on Apr 25, 2006
"Perfect is the enemy of good"

It's funny then that you would make a game that is the absolute favorite of people like me who like to carefully optimize every little thing and be completely in control. But as far as business goes, you're definitely right -- except, a little more perfection would keep the Drengin from greeting me first thing every game with, "We like bathe in the blood of our enemies"...
on May 01, 2006
I like what you do, continue this way.
on May 02, 2006
Liked most of your points, but I've never seen a superior argument beaten by kindness and nor would I want to. Spare a person's feelings if you can, but if you've got the correct point of view, it's your job to convince others. Rather than kindness, I would ask for professional respect.
on May 03, 2006
[more]
see Martin J. Strategic Data-Planning Methodologies, Pentce-Hall, Inc., Engelwood Cliffs, NJ 07632
on May 03, 2006
It is refreshing to see this point of view. I thought I was a dynasaur. eh, maybe I am. Everything from the lack of journalistic integrity to reality-sell-your-soul-for-some-cash are very depressing. Corporate outsourcing to save a few dollars here in the US only to lose their business down the road because nobody in the US is making enough money to buy it is ridiculous, but's everyone does it. Or to ask ..someothercountry.. to manufacture our goods, so they can clone it and shut their business down, down the road, is considered smart, and everyone does it.

An article in CIO magazine proposed cutthroat business techniques, with customers, employees, partners. I thought it was a joke. Apparently not. People like BillyG start giving people the impression that people don't matter, only winning. Only cash.

Individual integrity is a thing of the dark age's knighthood. Cooperation and comprimise are viewed today as weaknesses.

So when you take your soap box and voice your stance, you don't stand alone. Just with the few.

Thank you, Sir Draginol. Set the ideal, as only a knight can.

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