Spoiler Alert: This article is not technology-focused. It’s people-focused.
Tonight we did an invite-only, small group, relaxed event: screening of a VERY insightful and motivating movie about different paths of growth of two disruptive startups in US - 3D printing companies. The movie is called “Print the Legend” and besides good technical execution of filmmaking the story does have an emotional and philosophical tension between “selling out” and staying true to your values, between gradual growth and growing too quickly for your own good, getting lost or swayed by the glitter of shiny gold or wanting to be remembered in history books. Everyone enjoyed the movie but the discussion that followed was a true treat: food for thought.
On my walk home it made me reflect and start investigating root causes of these faiths, these stories… Is it not possible to be great, to “make it” in some other people’s eyes without compromising your moral values? I wholeheartedly believe that it is possible. What is it that creates a company culture which starts to feel “corporate”? What is the point at which you “sell your soul to the devil” sort-of-thing?
The answer is not a simplistic one, but it is very basic. A notion of selling out stems from you changing your values and sacrificing ideals and beliefs you had when you embarked on the journey to professional and financial freedom. Growing your own story. Pursuing your dream and then along the way, compromising your morals and ending up unhappy with who you’ve become, sometimes on a very subconscious level. It’s a very real personal risk for any self-starter.
The grass is always greener on the other side - people say. Are you sure you want what you think you want? You cannot possibly “know” what you want if you’ve never had it. Let me rephrase that actually, you cannot ever “know” yourself in that new situation you are judging from a certain third-person perspective where you stand now. You cannot expect to stay the same, no matter which road you take in your life. However, understanding the “price” of your goals, the necessary input in terms of effort and trade-offs (on both personal and professional level) boils down to knowing yourself and knowing what you want and don’t want. Once you’ve matured enough you’ve seen and interacted with different kind of people, and with each new relationship or experience (be it professional or personal) you actually learn more about yourself in the process of interaction. This is experience. It comes with time.
Now, if you got yourself figured out, you must have seen a few sunsets, a few sunrises or gazed at a full moon more than a handful of times. This also means you figured out other kinds of people too - to some level that allows for pattern recognition (please don’t confuse this statement with stereotyping which includes judgmental mindset). You know what works with you and what doesn’t. This is you, this is your value system, you know people you’re gonna click with and people you won’t. When you reach this state of maturity (which comes with personal development but also specific skill - emotional intelligence, or EQ) you won’t have to look for the right people. They will come to you. It’s how the universe works.
If you have “figured yourself out” and you gather the people who “share your frequency”, people on the same level of self-awareness you don’t have to spend energy or time on artificial “rules” or things that create “corporate” culture. This is the BS no human being likes and can sense it when they see it. People can feel when you’re honest. When you’re passionate about what you do people believe in you and what you do together. It serves as a natural filter - those that are intimidated by it won’t join you. Those that understand it will either follow or contribute to lead the way.
This is exactly why SmartCat is a small group of people. These are simply rare to find. And this basic trait is the first thing we check for. This is why people on our hiring interviews often say “I’ve never had such questions asked on an interview before”. This is why we are proud of who we are. This why we are not afraid of admitting our mistakes and challenging each other’s ideas. This why we are a no-bullshit-company. “Pardon my french”.