Our Ethos and Operating Principles

  • Brian Ferguson
  • June 10, 2020


Arena Labs is a culture built on humility. Not the false humility that is the absence of boasting, but a ruthless commitment to learning and betterment. We hold this mindset, that of the expert learner, as the bedrock of all extraordinary endeavor.

We are not academics or careerists. Nor are we a homogenous team of achievers. Consilience is powerful and for it to be most profound, a diversity of life’s extraordinary failures, triumphs, world views, and ideas must be at play. And so here at Arena, they are.

The root of our culture comes from deep experience in an array of lifetime pursuits. A tribe of men & women who savor the grind. We will always prefer the hard lessons of a life serving something greater over the comfortable trappings that come with theorizing or pontificating from the sidelines. And we believe that these efforts at the center of extraordinary endeavor are worth contributing much of our life to because they have the power to impact humanity be it in healthcare, outer space, or the intersection of humans and machines.

We are cultivating a tribe. Transcending the short-term bonds of a team into an enduring connection rooted in a love of learning, the energy of hard problems, and the kindred understanding of what it means to exist in an ecosystem devoted to being a little better, every day. The journey of those who comprise our tribe is common: a lifetime of service and grit followed by a devotion to mentoring and giving back, while still pursuing excellence.

The spirit here is one built on the expectations of pioneering, bold thinking. You are expected to challenge orthodoxy and to explore limits. And, you are expected to be comfortable being uncomfortably challenged…and to regularly explore your own limits.

Our work is balanced in the liminal space between long-standing “first principles” and the potential of an evolving world driven by accelerating technology. In that liminal space, we are charged with anchoring the people we work with in the solid ground of proven practices. At the same time, emboldening them to disrupt legacies and tradition through the possibilities of 21st century technology. We find in those tools of disruption, exciting new frontiers. And yet, we never lose our anchor in the human spirit that gives birth to such tools.

Beyond deep purpose & ethos, if there is any competitive advantage in today’s world, we hold it to be speed of execution. The ability to rapidly synthesize information. And then to build. New ideas, new products, new ways of work in the most storied institutions of society. And that creativity and construction always aims to be accessible. This is in the lifeblood of our work and we combine it with iconic, aspirational aesthetic, in everything we do. And then we do it better the next time.

Rapid execution means freedom from unnecessary constraints. It places value on the ability to find refreshing simplicity in the most complex of environments. It is in the soul of the expert learner, rather than the expert. And so, we seek out world-class, proven practitioners who have the confidence to build and rapidly execute autonomously but the wisdom of introspection to know how and when to seek the support and guidance of their tribe.

That wisdom is the core of our work, and the currency of our reputation. It is born partially of the experience of a Master Carpenter but more importantly, of a mindset rooted in the powerful character traits of those who have spent a lifetime exploring the Arena.

Authenticity. Living what we espouse.

Service. Transcending limits and exploring edges because we are moved by a mission beyond ourselves.

Mutual Respect. Approaching the sacred cultures to which we are invited with an understanding of the pressure to perform in high-stakes endeavors.

But, we always begin with humility.


  1. Be bold + pioneering, be humble. Every day.
  2. Be authentic. Live the virtues + rituals that brought you here and never compromise on keeping them at the center of your life.
  3. Thrive on critique and bring that critique to all that we do.
  4. Aesthetic matters. Bold ideas and iconic visual complement ignite possibility.
  5. Degree of Impact = Speed of Execution + Visceral Experience.