superstars, makers, and why lady gaga’s mum was right

In the past two years we’ve opened up lots and iterated quite a few times on whom we recruit and what we’re looking for in person. The clearer and leaner the process has become, the greater and happier the resulting team. But there’s been quite a log in our eye all this time, and we’re finally iterating along the right lines to make it vanish: we’ve been recruiting superstars. And from now on we’ll be recruiting makers. The latter is a subset, and a world of difference.

what’s this got to do with lady gaga’s mum?

Well, she knew something long ago that we managed to forget, or at least leave aside so far:

The title of Lady Gaga’s third album and its first single, “Born This Way,” raises the question: born what way? The single’s first sung verse provides an answer: “My mama told me when I was young, we are all born superstars.” Source

Thankfully, soon after Keeley joined us, we were loudly reminded we were doing it wrong. Examples that every company out there who gets this far/ good/ clear on its process is recruiting rockstars and superstars led to a great debate over a pint, and me asking him: what are we recruiting, then?

That was clever (bought some time), and not so clever—in a world of superstars, ruled by personal image, can there be any generic label we all agree to, and feel inspired by? Taking time to crack this question, we soon realised… the question was wrong. The description we’re after is not an aspirational life-affirming statement, but a filter, a way of doing things, a definition of craft if you will.

this way, makers!

So after a good deal of soul-searching, we are recruiting makers. Yes, they’re still superstars (see Lady Gaga’s mum above), and no, we’re not thinking this sets us apart a lot more than before. It does clarify our ambition as individuals and as a team, however, and it states that we’re a place for people who make things happen.

If you like pondering stuff for a good length of time, this place is not for you. If you think it’s somebody else’s job to spec your work, this place is not for you. If you think engineers shouldn’t touch design and designers shouldn’t get engineering, this place is not for you. If you need to build everything from scratch, this place is not for you.

This place is for people who know lots, pick up lots more along the way, enjoy working with each other, and get the job done. It’s fast, it’s high quality, it’s open: always up for comments and improvements. It’s less talking and more making. It’s weekly iterations where each person cracks five big problems and fifteen small ones and helps others along.

Makers have fun doing all this, because this is how they do things all the time, this is what makes them happy, this is how they go through life. I can’t promise you everyday is an all-singing all-dancing episode of Glee, but I can promise you that a maker will feel at home from day one, and thrive after a week, while dreamers, ponderers, mere tinkerers and lazy bums will run away in a comical fashion. Deal, my dear fellow maker?

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