• David Carbines

People at COGSflow

As our team begins to grow, below are a few notes on how we approach hiring. Please shout out if anything resonates or jars below



1. Motivation

  1. What gets you out of bed in the morning?

  2. What lights you up? Floats your boat? Flicks your switch? Bakes your cake?

  3. How do you spend your free time?

  4. What gives you energy?

  5. What would your TED talk be about?

  6. What do you care about in a way that no position description, org structure or decision matrix can dissuade you from getting involved? (FWIW we’re WAY too early for any of those things :)

  7. What are you going to advocate for / towards / about all day and all night?

  8. Please don’t fake it - heaven knows life has gone sideways when we’ve tried to fake it. And if you don’t know that’s ok - but at least share as much as you know and feel comfortable.

  9. Everything starts and finishes with this - we’re trying to see if we can make this work together. And if we can’t, we'll do our best to intro you to people who can.

2. Individual Character

  1. Buffet: Intelligence, Energy and integrity,

  2. “And if they don’t have the last one, don’t even bother with the first two. You want them stupid and lazy.”

  3. Would I trust you with my personal credit card? Because I’m about to trust you with a whole lot more than that.

  4. Brian Chesky (Airbnb) allegedly asked: "Would you take the job if you had a medical diagnosis that says you only have a year left to live?" The example is extreme, but it does speak to the dedication and desire of you as an individual - we’re really interested in that.

3. Collective Teamwork

  1. Can we work together?

  2. Will we all delight in coming to work together? Not that every day is going to be a sunny picnic, but will we respect each other, grow together, look forward to learning and delivering together?

  3. Will you move the team in the right direction? We don’t want to stay static - we expect to move - the key question is will the group move in the right direction by having you in it?

  4. We want to have a sense about how you will change the culture of the place

  5. Responding - fitting in

  6. Creating - actively changing for the better

  7. Do you share information / resources / insights?

  8. Do you build others up?

  9. Is the team better for having you in it?

  10. Are you the kind of person others want to work with and for?

  11. When it all hits the fan, are you the kind of person we go "It's all going to be ok, XYZ is here"

  12. We’re seeking to hire people we ourselves would be prepared to work under.


4. Speed of Decisions

  1. As a startup our core advantage is speed.

  2. We don’t have the time to over-analyse and get perfect knowledge - we have to make decisions with half the info we’d like.

  3. Are you ok with that?

  4. We have a bias for action, and we seek to learn as fast as we possibly can, while not betting our lives (or the company’s survival) on any one decision.

  5. This is not for everyone, and that’s not saying that others are lesser people. Just, as Peter Thiel notes, a different set of skills are required for Zero to One, to those for one to ten, ten to a hundred, or a hundred, a thousand, a million.

  6. This is hard (TBH we’re still learning to do this better ourselves) getting the balance on Christiansen sustaining vs. disrupting innovation and decisions.


5. Superpower

  1. Do you have a complementary capability and skill set that will make us much much better?

  2. What level are you operating at?

  3. Do it yourself

  4. Directly manage a team

  5. Indirectly manage multiple teams

  6. Lead a direction for others you barely know to get it and go?

  7. How closely can you get this done and deliver / achieve / create while also connecting into the rest of the team?

  8. We’re trying to go as fast as we can, while staying together

  9. Given your experience, perspective, and wisdom, do we trust you to set our agenda?

6. Desire for impact

  1. An eye on financial impact is a necessary, but not sufficient reason to work with us.

  2. Tell us about how you want to make the world a better place - for people or for planet

  3. And let’s talk about how you might achieve that with COGSflow.

  4. Bonus points if you can:

  5. Map that to an existing impact framework

  6. Articulate a Theory of Change connecting inputs with long term impacts

  7. Get us excited about it :)

7. Person + Role

  1. We hope to be growing and changing fast enough that every 6 months everyone gets a new role

  2. Reminds me of Tim Keller reflecting on many decades of successful marriage with his wife:

  3. “My wife has lived with at least five different men since we were wed—and each of the five has been me.”

  4. What is your aspiration and what are the kinds of roles you want to work in?

  5. Are they currently available?

  6. Are we likely to create them?

8. Agnostic + Diversity

Things we don’t really mind (or actively seek diversity upon)

  1. Age

  2. Gender

  3. Creed and belief (other than our mission statement)

  4. Location

  5. Sports team


Full disclosure, I'm an absolutely liability at Scrabble and Bananagrams.