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There are many companies out there advertising for career openings. Most companies in the tech field want to be seen as hiring only the best talent. They are growing and have positions to fill. In all, it seems obvious why a company would have job openings. Hellebore, though, hires for a different reason.
When we started Hellebore, we knew we wanted to make principled decisions. Ray Dalio had a significant influence on laying out the kind of culture we wanted to bring into our company. We also knew there was something more to the formula that makes a great work environment.
Dan and I were sitting on a beach somewhere one evening and discussing the exciting possibility of starting a new company. We wanted, above all else, to be happy and fulfilled. “Think back to the best projects you ever worked on. Think about when, in your career, you were absolutely the happiest. Maybe you didn’t even appreciate it at the time, but looking back…it was really great.” This was the question we were discussing that night. “It wasn’t the project, but the project was important. It wasn’t the client, but having a good client is critical. Above all, it was the team.” We decided. And so the guiding light for forming Hellebore was ignited:
Create a company that does interesting work for great clients with a team of really great people.
As our company grew in the first year, we focused on delivering for our clients. If they weren’t happy, it went, then we wouldn’t have much of a company. We knew the first hires for the company would be critical. And while it was exciting to grow, it wasn’t for the sake of growing.
When a client (or potential client) has a need and looks to Hellebore, it is vitally important that several things lock into place. First, we evaluate if filling the need will bring long-term value to our company. That is, is this a tactical “go do” or something with long term growth potential? Second, we evaluate if the type of work being proposed is within the realm of the type of work we, as a firm, want to do. We wish to avoid islands of disconnected tactical engagements that would not, ultimately, make Hellebore as a company a better place to work. Third, we evaluate if there is a career in the new position.
When Hellebore was just an idea back on that beach in Florida, we decided we did not want to be just another “butts in seats” contractor. I had seen people stuck in positions because “the client liked them.” This somehow was more important than allowing a person to grow in their career. Dan had seen others that were moved around like pawns to fill niche needs here and there, never being able to complete their swing on a project or really build deep skills. This was not the kind of company we wanted to create. So, beyond building value for the company, we want work that builds value for the people doing it. It must be meaningful work that contributes to a whole with a path for growth.
And that gets to how Hellebore hires differently. Once we have determined that the proposed work is the right fit for our company and our culture, we begin work on designing a machine to do the work. The machine is people. So within an engagement for a client, there are specific jobs that need to be done and tasks to complete, but there is also preparing for the growth that we anticipate. (Just like with our employees, we are looking for meaningful long-term relationships with our clients as well.) Each position we offer is a piece of this machine, designed to be a career that grows with the person that fills it for a client who values our talents and what we bring to a project.
Ray Dalio’s key principle on hiring is:
“Hire right, because the penalties for hiring wrong are huge.”
So we are looking for people that click into our machine and culture, who can bring value to our clients. We don’t ever want to just give lip service to the idea that it’s all about the people. It being about the people is at the core of why we founded Hellebore.