How our start-up culture is different

If you haven’t read this post by Shanley Kane on toxic lies about start-up culture, you should check it out.

One value in this post is it reminds me of what we DON’T want to do at The Julia Group, as we start up a new venture with 7 Generation Games

1. We hire people who are a cultural fit. Shanley says this often means

“we’re all white, mostly male, mostly college-educated, mostly young/unmarried, mostly binge drinkers, mostly from a similar work background. We tend to hire within our employees’ friend and social groups. “

Part of that is true for us. We do hire within our employees’ friends and social groups, which is why we have a staff that is heavily Latino – 100% of our design team (3 out of 3) and 80% of our administrative staff (4 out of 5). The educational staff is 100% Native American (3 out of 3). Our staff is split exactly 50-50 between male and female. Our three co-founders and senior consultant are 2 men and 2 women.

On the other hand, we hired our second white female ever last year as a summer intern, and our first white male ever as this year’s summer intern. With the exception of our intern, everyone has a college degree, and 75% of our staff are married. (Yes, one of our co-founders is white and male, but I’m married to him and if you are having sex with me before  joining  the company, I don’t think that really counts as an open hiring process.)

So, although it is a different culture, we do tend to hire people like ourselves. For example, when we needed someone to work on the curriculum for the next game, Fish Lake, based on the Ojibwe people, we asked our cultural consultant, Dr. Erich Longie, to recommend someone. He recommended two wonderful people, both of whom we hired.  Like Erich, both are grandparents, live on the same reservation where they were born and raised (albeit a different reservation from him), were raised by parents who spoke their native language in the home, and both have experience teaching. One of them, like Erich, has a doctorate.

There may be some fabulous young people living in Minneapolis or Winnipeg who speak Ojibwe, learned it at college and would be a great resource – but Erich didn’t know them as well as these two and so we never considered them for a job.

Maybe we really DO need to look beyond our own social networks in hiring. On the other hand, I think our entire staff is brilliant and talented and I have no complaints about any of them  – so maybe we don’t.

Anyway …. this post on start-up culture has given me a lot of food for thought, so much, so, in fact, that I wrote about another point, “Meetings are not evil” on our 7 Generation Games blog.

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