• January 8, 2016

Resolutions for the Boston Startup Community (and a Formula to Keep Them)

Resolutions for the Boston Startup Community (and a Formula to Keep Them)

This post originally appeared on BostInno on January 8, 2016.

It’s Jan. 8, have you forgotten the word “resolutions” yet? While the idea of resolutions might seem hokey, for a majority of folks each new year is a time to reset and create new goals for the next 12 months, both personally and professionally.

I love a good challenge and each year brings a new set of challenges I make for myself in the form of goals that I intend to keep day-in and day-out.

Starting in 2010, I began writing down resolutions every year that are structured as annual goals. I thought, however, that writing them down wasn’t enough. I needed to remind myself of them and hold myself accountable pretty regularly. To do this, I came up with a quick grading formula that would force me to realize whether I am making or breaking them, or, just where and when I need to improve.

I break my goals into three categories: 1) health 2) work 3) type of person you want to be (personally). From there, I organize the impact I’d like to have on specific people/things. You can make your own categories here based on your goals – here are mine: Be the best: 1) husband 2) family member 3) CEO 4) friend 5) American.

Here’s where accountability comes in. Every month, I evaluate how I’m doing on each and grade myself on a scale of 1, 2, 3. 1 = needs immediate improvement, 2 = acceptable, 3 = excellent. The key is to keep it simple so you don’t spin your wheels on the grades, as these are marathon goals not sprints.

Having structure and being militant about your goals can have significant impact on every aspect of your life: health, work, family, friends, etc. At VENTUREAPP, the way we handle goals is twofold. First, every person gets a 1-3 rank from their team members on each of our company’s “Values & Expectations” each quarter and depending on your score we focus on improving in weak areas and maximizing your strengths. Second, we use an OKR system (Objectives and Key Results) similar to Google’s, which Business Insider described here. The overall company, each team and each individual set OKRs that all align.

Since a goal of mine is to try to help bring out the best in people, I hope you find this framework helpful.

For an example, I will set some resolutions & goals for the Boston startup community. If you have any to add, feel free to drop me a line (@cgarb).

Boston Startup Community 2016 Resolutions


  • Share more –  Everyone in Boston wants to create a more impactful brand for our startup community, but the only way that happens is if there is a larger collective narrative. If people share more about challenges they are having, airing grievances, etc., this will contribute to a larger and more impactful narrative. It’s also important for people to just be straight up interesting. So many entrepreneurs and VCs talk to us about getting press but they don’t want to share any information of interest to people. Sometimes you need to open up the kimono a bit in order to truly be interesting.
    • Current community grade: 1
  • Be active – It’s been proven and preached time and time again. Exercise and movement improves productivity, creativity, energy, positivity, and so much more. Not to mention its improvements to your physical health. There are so many gyms amongst our startup neighborhood hubs. Boston is a running city. Races are weekly and many accept groups which is a great team building exercise for your business.
    • Current community grade: 2


  • 10% Weekly Growth – YCombinator has outlined what excellent growth is– and companies that achieve 10% weekly growth are rocket ships. We need to start pushing for this type of growth. To do so, companies need to make data-driven decisions to make sure all goals, activities and tactics are contributing to 10% weekly growth. If every company in Boston shoots for this type of growth, and really focuses their weekly activities on trying to reach this speed, many will hit it, which will create more companies like DraftKings and HubSpot.
    • Current community grade: 2
  • Be inclusive – All companies in Boston need to do a better job of really pushing ourselves to engage people from outside the tech bubble. Not to get too political in this post but diversity is an incredibly important topic that we need to address NOW.
    • Current community grade: 1

Type of Community We Want to Be

  • Be bigger – Bigger means every person at every company should be recruiting someone to the startup community. You can focus on growing your team, or if you’re the type that likes to play connector, put people in touch with other interesting companies. Dharmesh Shah is a great example of someone who gives back to Boston tech by focusing 100% of his efforts on HubSpot and not being distracted by all the other startup stuff people can get sucked into. If he didn’t do this, we wouldn’t have HubSpot which is critical for Boston. Then there are folks who work to grow the community through events, networking, being vocal, etc. Both are needed to get bigger.
    • Current community grade: 2
  • Be better – To get better we need more people who are playing at a high level and simply trying to be the absolutely best at their job (Patriots style). We need more people sharing their growth, their lessons on success and how they did it. Did you scale your sales organization and you think you did a kickass job? Tell us how you did it. We need more opportunities to meet experts. The top 5 CEOs, tech leaders, sales leaders, marketing leaders, HR leaders, etc., should feel pressure to share more.
    • Current community grade: 1

I would urge us all to check back in on these goals monthly and see where we stand as people, companies and a growing hub for startups. There are a lots of opinions and discussions about what type of year 2016 will be for startups and venture capital. While we can’t control external factors, we can keep our head down, work hard and support each other as a community. Here’s to an awesome year of getting business done and being good people while doing it.