Company founders aren’t known for sleeping well. We’re busy people with a lot on our minds, and getting up to work in the middle of the night is sometimes the easiest way to deal with it. But when I’m awake several nights in a row, thinking about the same thing, I take it as a sign.
Toward the end of last year, I found myself tossing and turning, and thinking about ZocDoc’s growth. I wasn’t anxious that our growth was too slow – just the opposite, actually. If you haven’t been a part of a high-growth company, it’s probably hard to imagine how quickly things can change.
These days, we have over 150 people, and our lunches are huge, catered operations that involve hand-trucks and signs. But back in ZocDoc’s first year of business, there were just seven of us, sitting in one little room in Chinatown. Every day at lunchtime, the seven of us would crowd around a desktop computer, place our food orders online, and argue about whose deliveryman would be faster. I remember dreaming aloud with my cofounders, “What will it be like when there are thirty of us?” “What will it be like when there are fifty of us?”
Eventually, we began to blow past these mile markers, and that’s when I started to get anxious. The company was an incredibly friendly, welcoming, tight-knit place to work, and we’d worked very hard to keep it that way. But we were growing so fast, and hiring people every day. What would the company become when people didn’t know each other? What would happen when I couldn’t remember everybody’s name? How would we maintain our most basic principles, the things we loved so much about ZocDoc’s culture?
And that was the seed that grew into our seven core values – the vital pieces of our culture that make us who we are. Here are the values we named:
- Patients First. ZocDoc exists to bring better healthcare access to the world. Nothing is more important than the interests of our patients. Every decision we make must be guided first and foremost by this principle.
- Great People. This company was built on the work of the most incredible, inspiring people I know. That’s our foundation, and we stick to it. We always hire people that are better and smarter than we are – so the company, as a whole, will always continue to improve. We think our mission is of the highest importance, and we need the very best people to do it.
- Speak Up. At ZocDoc, the best idea is the right idea, and it doesn’t matter who thought of it. (If you think I’m the smartest guy in the room just because I’m the CEO, I’ve got bad news for you!) This cuts both ways, too. If you’re an intern at ZocDoc on your first day, and you think the company’s making a mistake, speak up! It’s your right, and it’s your duty.
- Own it. Everyone at ZocDoc should feel like an owner and act the part. That means taking full responsibility for the success of the company, and enjoying the privileges of ownership, too. We don’t have a dress code, a vacation policy, or set working hours because we trust everyone to work for success, and use ZocDoc’s resources as thoughtfully as they would their own.
- Us Before Me. As I’ve said before, the task we face – revolutionizing the healthcare system – is not a small one. There’s only one way to succeed in an endeavor of that size. We all have to pull together, support each other, and keep focused on our collective goal. There’s nothing wrong with personal gain and individual success, but making the right decision for ZocDoc should always come first.
- Work Hard. If you’re not doing your work with every bit of intensity and focus that you can muster, then you’re probably working somewhere else. We’re here because we believe with all our hearts in what we’re doing, and our commitment to getting things done should reflect that. People at ZocDoc don’t just do a job – they live a lifestyle. And it’s the most rewarding lifestyle we can imagine!
- Make Work Fun. Or else! If you’re not ready to laugh uncontrollably, to forget that you’re “at work,” to hang out with your colleagues for cookouts and Friday evening Happy Hours, to challenge your boss at the arcade game and high-five when you destroy him, or to grab the mic and karaoke like a maniac, you’re not ready for ZocDoc!
As you can see, our core values aren’t some feel-good corporate initiative. They’re sincere, they’re written all over our walls, and they help us all sleep well at night. They’re a promise we’ve made to stay true to ourselves – so even when ZocDoc is a hundred or a thousand times as large, we will still embody the culture that made us great.