Your "Logos": How Eastern Philosophy Helps Shape a Startup

Heraclitus of Ephesus believed in a world of perpetual change, of eternal ‘Becoming’. For him, a static Being was based on deception and his universal principal was fire, a symbol for the continuous flow and change of all things. Heraclitus taught that all changes in the world arise from the dynamic and cyclic interplay of opposites as a unity. This unity, which contains and transcends all opposing forces, he called the Logos. -Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics

This excerpt undoubtedly speaks to people involved in a startup, as they consider what the brand and culture will be. We have all seen The Social Network and remember when Mark’s character says, “Facebook is like fashion, fashion is never finished.” This is how Heraclitus sees the world, we are in a place of constant change, and the sooner we realize that our company is not the same tomorrow as it is today, if not just for the dynamic landscape it exists in, the better prepared we are to accept the need for constant change.

Heraclitus points out that opposing forces, the nature of “up” or “down”, is in fact a characteristic of unity. Take for instance, the life of Steve Jobs, a man who was not the technical genius behind Apple, but the visionary. While making some of the first Macintosh computers, Jobs took a look at the mother board, and said it had to be redone, simply because the integrated circuit chips were not aligned. To an engineer, this made no sense, the circuitry worked, and the chip placement was irrelevant, but this conflict of vision and artistic order played a significant role in a company culture of pushing engineering limits, sometimes based solely on aesthetics.

The transcendent unity that Heraclitus calls “Logos” is what we should all consider when building a brand, which is in the simplest form as, a logo. The logo stands for the company as a whole, it is the umbrella with which everyone under it should be comfortable with change and difference, but from a distance, all others see complete unity. It is what we print on our company shirts and wear to meetups, to let everyone know who we are, what we do, and more importantly, what we stand for.