What it’s Like to Work for Me (in 2015)

I’m hiring right now because things are going really well.

Instead of just throwing out a bunch of job descriptions I thought I would write a blog post to let folks who come work for me understand what they should expect from the experience.

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Now, a lot of people ask my former employees, many of whom are life-long friends, “What’s it like to work for Jason?”

The answer really depends on when you worked for me. In the first act of my career I was an adrenalin-driven founder, who demanded massive effort from everyone — including myself. We got a lot accomplished, but frankly, I burned people out because I was unreasonable, impatient, and brutal to non-performers.

When I was in my 20s I would have no problem telling someone who worked for me if I thought their idea was “stupid,” their effort “pathetic” or work product “terrible.” People who were tough thrived and the culture was intense.

However, I probably lost good people and there were many uncomfortable, and unnecessary, moments.

Such is the life of a young founder with no experience and who grew up working in a bar in Brooklyn. I don’t fault myself for it and I don’t have a lot of regret.

However, I’ve worked to evolve my sometimes brutal, samurai approach. In fact, these days I think a lot about my legacy, the enjoyment of working on my teams, and how many all-stars I can develop.

In the second act I’ve learned to give people a little more room, while still keeping the standard very high. The trick has been to quickly move non-performers out of my company and constantly spend time with the high-performers.

If a person’s work is terrible, their ideas stupid, and their effort pathetic, telling them is simply not as effective as replacing them!

Also, every minute you invest in an idiot with whom you don’t like working is time you could have given to a brilliant person with whom you love working. It’s not my responsibility to try to turn someone who is a 4 or 5 into an 8, especially when I can hire someone who is a 7 or 8 and turn them into a 9 or 10.

The list of my alumni has been getting more and more impressive over time. This has not been by a function of my mentorship but rather my ability to spot talent, give them a ton of mentorship, and then jump into the deep end of the pool *with* them.

That’s a key piece of my strategy: we mentor folks a ton and we don’t just throw them into the deep end of the pool, we actually jump in with them. Anyone can push someone into an intense situation, but real leadership is saying, “I’m right next to you, don’t worry we’re gonna get this done together!”

Rafat Ali of Skift (I’m an investor), Brian Alvey of Recurrency (I’m an investor), Xeni Jardin (of boingboing — if only I were an investor!), Jason Demant of Bento (I’m an investor), Peter Rojas at AOL (I was an investor in GDGT, which sold to AOL), Ryan Block, also at AOL (cofounder of GDGT), Lon Harris, and countless others who are all thriving, building amazing products in the world.

I’m absurdly loyal to the folks who work for me for a couple of years and I really like seeing them go on to great things. In many cases I help them get their next gig or invest in their companies. I’m told loyalty and work ethic are my best qualities. Perhaps I look for and nurture those qualities in others because I grew up working at my dad’s bar in Brooklyn where those qualities were also valued.

If you’re looking to advance an extra three to five years down your career path then there is an easy way to do it. Take one of these positions working directly for me:

  1. Inside.com & LAUNCH.co Product Designer
  2. Drones & Robotics Writer / Researcher
  3. Senior Android Developer
  4. Director of Operations at LAUNCH
  5. Corporate Storyteller, Researcher & Social Media
  6. Executive & Personal Assistant
  7. LAUNCH Ticker Pro Writer

best @jason