Hiring Our Culture: Our Recipe for a High-Performance Team at AtlasRTX

AtlasRTX January 2018

We Hire Culture

It’s been a little over two years since founding AtlasRTX, our first in-house Mindshare Venture. For that entire time, our fundamental strategy, operating plan, and cultural norms have remained very consistent. But now, it’s time for refinement and evolution of our key principles guiding our company culture.

And, as I’ve long said, “we hire culture”: everyone we bring on to the team adds ingredients to our culture; so, we must be very clear about the recipe we’re following and purposeful about the ingredients we’re using.

The five ingredients below embody our recipe to building our high-performance team at AtlasRTX: a team that trusts one another completely and has one another’s backs. While trust itself isn’t listed below, we see it as something so fundamental as to not need being called out.

The AtlasRTX Recipe

1. #CofounderCulture

We only hire and grow the best talent, the kind of talent we’d bring aboard as cofounders: people who have world-class skill, will, and attitude. If we lower our bar on whom we include in our team, we’ll unintentionally lower the bar on everything else. So, while it’s difficult to do, it’s important we maintain the bar at a world-class level all of the time.

We do our best vetting candidates upfront, but we won’t be perfect; if someone isn’t quite suited to be part of our team, we’ll help them find a role they’re more suited to elsewhere…within the first six months of their joining us, but preferably even sooner.

Thus, we all think of ourselves as cofounders of this company and not as mere employees.

  • Employees are here for a paycheck; cofounders are here to build a great company — we expect passionate engagement.
  • Employees work set hours and; cofounders work intensely putting in whatever hours are needed to succeed — we expect hard work.
  • Employees sneak away when the boss is away; cofounders step in to high gear to cover those absent.
  • Employees reply when they can; cofounders manage to always reply quickly — we expect responsiveness.
  • Employees think of themselves as service providers to the company; cofounders are the company — we only hire and grow cofounders.

2. #DifferentIsBetter

We believe in diversity to our core and will give those a chance who others may not consider. We will hire rockstars from other industries even if they don’t have a background in ours; we believe rockstars elsewhere can learn to be rockstars here. We will hire those who are discriminated against elsewhere…because it is other companies who are losing out on great talent.

We don’t care how young or old you are: if others don’t think you have enough experience but you’re willing to prove yourself, we’ll give you a chance; if others think you have “too much experience” but you’re willing to prove yourself, we’ll give you a chance.

We prefer doing things differently and do not accept the phrases like, “I’ve seen it done this way forever,” or “everyone else does it this way.” Doing things like everyone else is the definition of “average” and we will not accept “average.” In fact, we’ll use commonly-accepted approaches as reasons to find an alternative path. We don’t copy others; we’ll chart a new path until they copy us.

3. #BluntButKind

We say things directly but kindly. We give each other real feedback that’s honest but constructive. Conversely, we accept feedback that’s presented in a kind and constructive way. We can’t be efficient beating around the bush, so kind bluntness is our approach to all communication.

We are very polite. We say “please” a lot. We thank people for being helpful. We say “sorry” in a sincere way when we impact someone else. To us, politeness is well worth the extra syllables and extra characters.

4. #IntellectuallyHonest

We are curious. We are always learning. We make the best decisions based on well-informed analysis. We will usually be right, but we will make mistakes along the way. We acknowledge those mistakes, learn from them, and move on. But we can’t progress if we don’t acknowledge the mistakes.

We don’t like know-it-alls. We don’t like those who act as if everything is predictable and expected. We espouse a culture of learning where, from the CEO across the organization, everyone is coachable, curious, and humble. We like people who ask sincere questions and listen to meaningful responses. We respect people who talk a little but say a lot, and not the other way around.

In order to embody intellectual honesty, we take accountability for bad calls and step up admitting sincerely “I was wrong in my call, but I’ve learned lessons I’ll use to improve my decision-making.” We don’t respect those who, despite less-than-optimal outcomes, act is if they were predicted, planned, or, worse yet, “acceptable given the circumstances.” But, as a complement to that, we don’t hold it against colleagues who followed an educated plan that had a negative outcome, because miscalculations will happen and it’s our job to learn and move on.

5. #MoreWithLess

We do more with less in every part of our business: cofounders, clients, partners, and products.

  • We prefer a smaller number of rock star cofounders who do whatever it takes to delight our customers.
  • We prefer a smaller number of evangelist clients and partners who pay us for our world-class services.
  • We prefer a smaller number of world-class products that our clients depend on day to day.
  • We expend our resources effectively and efficiently ensuring we’re always optimizing so as we can get better with each passing stage of the company.

Everyone counts and contributes; everything counts and contributes. We don’t have room for dead wood.

We don’t aspire to make it so everyone can work with us; we don’t aspire to make it so everyone will like it here; we aspire to make it so those few who do have one of the most meaningful chapters of their careers as part of our team.





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