Build A Business With Soul

SULI just returned from the Shift Conference in Split, Croatia. Witnessing a hackathon teaches you something about soul, about youth and the bridge between the two. I don?t know if it was the ridiculous energy of 1,200 twentysomethings hopped up on caffeine and adrenaline, or the sultry, slow-moving intensity of a country trying to forge its way economically, but attending this event got me thinking about what it means to be a startup vs. what it means to be a startup with soul.

Let us take a moment to honor soul?the vital force that gives you and your business a vibe. Soul is the handshake that acknowledges that you believe and that you are present. It is the central tenet of your company culture.

It?s hard to explain entrepreneurial soul, but once you experience it, you know what it means. It?s what gives you purpose. It?s at the core of every sustained business?the ones with heart and emotion and customers who just can?t live without them. A business without soul? Flash in the pan.

I learned a lot about soul at this hackathon, which has become an annual mecca for me and my brain, which came along for the ride. It?s a lesson in the passing of soul in Silicon Valley and the rising of the machine in other parts of the world. It?s a lesson in disruption and the preservation of purpose.

Take a look at most tech startups in the Valley. They represent something we call the ?dine and dash? model of economics. It can be very lucrative, but it is cold and calculating, and it lacks soul. It?s the accelerated-growth model: Get your value high, make yourself seem important and ? cash out. Going corporate?being bland and predictable whilst wearing ties?is a sad byproduct of the binary economy. Sign here, and sell your soul.

I would wager that selling your soul does not create a lasting impact on the economy or, more important, our culture as a whole. Soul matters. Bland does not.