Archives For Company Life

Everything about our (mis)adventures, off shorings, job and hiring info, and company culture.

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Nobody likes to talk about firing.  It’s not something to celebrate: if you need to fire someone it means you screwed up.  Either you hired the wrong person, or — more common — you hired the right person, but failed to enable their success.  Either way, the blame falls on the company (not the individual), so it’s no surprise that companies tend to avoid talking about their failures.

But despite that discomfort, firing is an important topic because in the long run, careful application of firing is actually more important than hiring.  To understand why, consider this simple chart:

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There’s an old adage in Silicon Valley:

A people hire other A people, while B people hire C people.

Said another way, great people want to work with other great people, but not-so-great people prefer to work with people worse than themselves.  This is because great people love to be challenged by their peers, while not-so-great people prefer not to be challenged at all.

The Vicious Cycle of Mediocrity

It’s easy to agree with the above in theory.  But building a company that adheres to this in practice is very, very hard.  So hard that extremely few companies actually do it, despite the best of intentions along the way.  You can tell if your company is doing it by seeing if it’s followed this path:  Continue Reading…

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One of the greatest perks of working at Expensify is that you are surrounded by passionate, mature people naturally motivated to do the right thing.  This works because we hire people who have three key characteristics:

  • Extreme natural talent
  • Long term ambition
  • Deep humility

All three matter in different ways, but the third is particularly relevant here because it’s what ensures everybody has an appreciation for the limits of their knowledge — which translates into a low-drama, super collaborative environment.

Now, when people hear “collaborative environment”, they typically think about the various off-the-shelf management techniques, like Scrum, Agile, Holacracy, or whatever the pop-business gurus are selling these days.  We don’t use any of those.  Rather, we try to live by two main principles:  Continue Reading…

There are no shortage of challenges and problems running a startup, but by far the most difficult of all is hiring.  Attracting, retaining, and inspiring truly excellent people is the lifeblood of any startup, and Expensify is no exception.  But what I think is exceptional about Expensify is our commitment to maintaining and even raising the bar on hiring as the company grows.

That might not sound exceptional.  Indeed, it might even sound cliché.  But make no mistake: despite how easy it is to make this claim, it’s very difficult to actually put it into practice.   Continue Reading…

Once a month, Humans of Expensify will profile one of our team members, because behind every great expense report, there is an even greater human.

“My political philosophy is what I call ‘libertarian anarchism.’

It’s not an official title but I like that it captures the political philosophy of libertarianism and also aligns itself with the rockstar defiance of anarchism. It’s descriptive but gets a reaction, which I like. And I grew up in a family where coming out on top of an argument was a primary virtue.

I think words are extremely powerful and just by choosing a particular label it can set people off to instantly dismiss your perspective or open your mind to think of things in a different way.

Starting those conversations is why I have consciously adopted that label. A lot of people think that they know what a libertarian is and it can be based on a sort of caricature – a reflexive reaction, especially on the west coast, that liberal is good and right wing is bad.

So this title gives me the opportunity to weaken that knee-jerk reaction.

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Once a month, Humans of Expensify will profile one of our team members, because behind every great expense report, there is an even greater human.

“It’s a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run.

I did the Ironman three years ago, and last year my wife and I went to Spain for one of her Ironman races. We actually met doing a triathlon and we take turns training for races.

It’s important to have a counterbalance to work. At Expensify, we all live and breathe Expensify, and I think that’s awesome, but at the same time it’s important to have other things too. For me, this is that other thing.

I’m always that person who needs a hobby. I like competing with myself — you can’t lie to yourself and towards the end you have to find the endurance and motivation out of nowhere.

I think the human body is amazing and can do crazy things and yes, there’s a physical barrier and training is necessary, but my big belief is that the mental stuff is the only thing that can hold you back.

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Once a month, Humans of Expensify will profile one of our team members, because behind every great expense report, there is an even greater human.

“They call it chess on ice.

The first time I curled, I was in college and I was living with my best friend, and she was always coming up with crazy ideas — ‘Let’s go to Turkey! Let’s go befriend this stranger!’

One morning, I woke up hungover and accompanied and she burst into the room and said ‘Wake up! We’re going curling!’  So we went to an open house and took a lesson, and five years later, we’re both curling competitively on opposite coasts.

Mel Humans of Expensify

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