Reading Time: 2 minutes

I often tell my team; we’re growing an Aspen Grove.

Here is why…

Trees are a perfect metaphor for individual growth and success.

Take an Aspen tree, for example.

Its majestic, tall, gray tubelike presence is accented with beautiful yellow leaves that quake in the breeze.

They grow silently, strong and productive, reaching their individual heights of over 100 feet.

Resilient, solitary contributors. This is what the best companies are made of, right?


One Aspen tree is actually only a small part of a larger organism. A stand or group of aspen trees is considered a singular organism connected by an extensive root system underground.

Companies are not just a forest of strong individuals. The best ones create a culture — a root system — that fuses each person’s strength into an interconnected organism.

A Team.

Before a single Aspen trunk appears above the surface, the root system may lie dormant for many years until the conditions are just right, including sufficient sunlight. Each tree is a genetic replicate of the other in a single stand, hence the name a “clone” of Aspens used to describe a stand.

Being a team means (1) forging life-long relationships with your peers, (2) going through pain together, and (3) growing and learning from each other.

My third company included four co-founders.  We spent three years trying to get one business model to work to no avail.  We lived through many months of low or no salaries when we couldn’t raise enough money.  We lived through numerous setbacks, painful mistakes, and a long process of learning a new industry.  The relationship we built through this pain and its inevitable learning is like a covalent bond, the strongest in chemistry. Today, we are closer than ever.  

Not being a team means: (1) being consumed by ego, (2) not communicating, (3) building silos (us vs. them)

It is easy to build silos in an organization.  Each team feels they are doing something important.  Their leaders focus on their subordinate’s goals and reward them for individual wins.  They don’t focus on the challenges other groups face or their decisions’ effects on the company’s goals. The individual teams start to blame each other when corporate goals aren’t met.  They say to themselves: we did our part. There is no collaborative spirit.

What does it mean to be team-oriented?

Here is an excerpt from the core principles statement from one of my ventures:

We bring out the best in each other through collaboration, encouragement, and trust. We hold ourselves and our peers accountable to build an enduring, resilient organization. We approach every relationship based on the alignment of interests.

That says it is all about how a company focused on one integrated, collaborative community behaves.

That’s an Aspen Grove.

Start planting yours today.

Learn more about managing teams in the Tribe Vibes series HERE.

By Published On: December 18th, 2022Categories: Culture, Leadership, Tribe VibesTags: , , , ,

Share this article

About the Author: John Belizaire

John is a versatile CEO and serial entrepreneur who has successfully founded, scaled multiple technology companies over a 20-year career. He is currently the CEO of Soluna, a company helping to shape the future of renewable energy and computing. Before Soluna, John was the founder and CEO of FirstBest, a transformative insurance software company acquired by Guidewire Software and Theory Center, an e-commerce software company acquired by BEA Systems. Before becoming an entrepreneur, John was the lead architect for Intel’s Digital Enterprise Group. John is on the advisory board of several software-as-a-service, data analytics, and insurtech startups. He is the Managing Editor of CEOPLAYBOOK Media LLC, an online publication full of sage advice for first-time founder CEOs. John is also a trustee of Harlem Academy, an independent school in New York.