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Culture is simply a shared way of doing something with a passion.
~ Brian Chesky, CEO Airbnb

Culture: we all talk about it, but do we really hire for it? As we’ve more than tripled our team here at Actionable over the past 9 months, this has been a prominent question on my mind. Particularly because, once people start working here, they often tell me how much they love the culture. Kind words, but also a bit anxiety-creating. After all, as we continue to scale, how exactly does one maintain such a vague and amorphous component as “culture”?

Below, I’ve shared a video with a few of my thoughts on hiring for culture.

 

 

The ideas are sound, and I stand by them. But, as I’ve reflected on the challenge over the couple weeks since I shot the video, I think there’s another idea I’d like to share: that of having brave conversations.

Truly standing up for what you believe in—risking rejection for the purposes of stating what the company stands for with passion—is no easy feat. Not for me, as the founder. I can only imagine it is that much more difficult for those who feel like they may have the additional challenge of appeasing said founder. But the more I study it, the more I believe that a strong culture comes from the rich, genuine, and heart-rate-enhancing belief in what you do, how you do it, and (most importantly) why you do it, shared openly with those who cross your path.

Debates should be impassioned. When you care deeply about your work, you go deeper into your work. You create things that matter—to you, certainly, but almost inevitably (by extension) for a small group of other souls that are looking for a brave leader to give them language and goals to anchor to.

That willingness to engage in rich discussion—to take a stance and have robust conversations—is what maintains and builds a healthy culture. A community of pleasant agreers breeds mediocrity.

The message I’d add to my video is this—if you’re hiring for culture, look for impassioned people. People who will (respectfully) disagree on certain points because they know truly who they are and what matters to them. If you can find that, and it aligns with the objectives of your organization, hire that person. I’ve never regretted it.

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