How a fast growing startup – fixed culture and performance from the start.

How a fast-growing startup – fixed culture and performance from the start.

High-performing startups – how they set up culture and performance from the start.  

Axios, founded by alumni of Politico, got off to a fast start in 2017 by focusing on USA national politics and policy. 

Axios has a link to Australia – Dr Norman Swan – the ABCs news commentator on all things health-related – son is an Axios reporter. 

He shot to fame with a gruelling interview with then-President Trump – widely acclaimed for holding Trump to account. 

How Axios: removes internal drama, culture and performance issues  — the whispering and gossip that plagues and pollutes many workplaces – how to stop it dead. 

 Jim writes.

  • Our solution was radical transparency: Share everything with everybody so everyone felt in the loop and together.

Why it matters: By sharing everything other than how much someone makes or why someone left — those exceptions are out of respect for the individual — we eliminate suspicion and resentment from not knowing. 

  • We treat people like reasonable adults and ask others to do the same – we trust them with sensitive information and nuance. 
  • It has created a more dynamic, trusting culture at Axios. 

We wanted to work with insanely talented people, but also insanely good people, in a wildly ambitious but truly enjoyable workplace. 

Here are three things we do that might be helpful in other settings: 

1. Overshare. In relationships, at work, as leaders, you build trust by being open and honest, constantly and consistently. You cannot say you are transparent; you show it with hundreds of little acts of openness. 

  • At Axios, we write a Sunday newsletter to all staff with a candid, behind-the-curtain look at what we are doing and why. 

2. Take tough questions. One of the hardest but best things we do is take questions anonymously every Monday, read them verbatim even if it hurts, and answer forthrightly and non-defensively. 

  • Make no mistake; this can be hard. We went through a short season a few years back where a few people wrote in questions aimed at rattling me. Some execs wanted to stop the practice because it was uncomfortable. 
  • But we did not — it showed we were transparent even when it was a drag. 

3. Resist retreat. Twice, someone on staff leaked private Axios discussions, presumably to embarrass a colleague or stir trouble. My initial reaction was annoyance — and then a fleeting thought that we needed to stop being so transparent.

  • But then I realised the good of thousands of conversations kept secret far outweighs the bad of two conversations leaked. 

The bottom line is –It’s true in work and life: Demystifying things with candour and transparency eliminates a lot of the needless drama and sneaky suspicion – driving performance.

Now the most valuable asset in the world today is attention.

The FASTEST growing businesses have one thing in common they get more attention on multiple social media platforms – every day. 

  • They get more attention first 
  • More engagement 
  • Influence and Sell More. 



  • paid advertising,  
  • lots of content generation, 
  • and without doing a lot of outreach #socialselling, 

Get our new – quick-video case study – how we delivered 500x more attention in under 120 days – with real buyers. 

Increasing ATTENTION – maximises influence, revenue and market dominance.  

The average results are 

  • Save hundreds of hours a month 
  • 144x more engagement in the first 120 days 
  • 3x faster sales cycles, 
  • 2x lift in conversions 
  • typically 1/2 the price of our competitors.  

If you have read this far, thank you for your attention. It means a lot. I hope this helped you even a little bit in better making sense of this topic. If so, please, share it with a friend who might also benefit from it. 

Thanks for reading,