Our Community in Numbers
Total Debt Linked
Total Debt Paid Down
Ratio of PhDs to Dropouts
Support Emails Answered
Number of Bugs Fixed
Blog Posts written
“Our talented team is an unstoppable force on an important mission.” — Rod
We don’t actually have a lot of these…. and the more we think about it, we think its a good thing. That’s not to say that rules don’t have their time and place. Good rules can be empowering. The problem is that bad rules can be crippling.
To avoid this pitfall, we have avoided making rules. What few rules we do have are born from trial, error, and the lessons we have learned from operating without rules.
The way we see it: The only rules worth keeping are the ones that make our lives, our work and our product better. In fact, that’s really the only rule we have around here.
Based on that, here are some things you can expect from us:
It is not our place to tell you how to dress. But don’t think for a second that if you wear parachute pants and a fanny pack that it will pass without comment.
We won’t force you to adhere to a strict 8-5 schedule. Some people are early birds, others are night owls. You should work when you feel you will be most effective.
You don’t need to ‘earn’ your vacation time or sick time. Healthy people (mentally and physically) make better employees, and more importantly, better co-workers. It doesn’t take a Stanford PhD to figure that out. We want you to have a healthy work life balance, because well, we want it too.
Moustaches are things to be celebrated, especially in Movember.
Your workspace is where you can get things done, we don’t have any other expectations about its shape, aesthetic and location.
We believe that good communication is fundamental to collaborative exercise. Working together effectively means communicating effectively. Sounds simple enough, right? Turns out good communication is a lot harder than teaching a parrot to talk (we tried to teach one to program once; he now has a PhD in Machine Learning). We haven’t given up hope though, and in our efforts to become better communicators we have learned a few lessons:
Face-to-face communication trumps all other forms. Instant messaging, phone calls, and email all have their place, and work well. But nothing matches the mean nitty-gritty of old-fashioned talking. It allows for better engagement, collaboration, emotional bonding, camaraderie, and last but not least: quality banter.
Everything that is valuable in communication flows from the Golden Rule: communicate to others as you would like to be communicated to. That doesn’t mean you should go around saying ‘sup?’ to everyone. It means that clarity, respect for others’ time, openness, being direct, receptiveness, and honesty are all valuable.
Vibes are contagious. If you are in a bad mood, that’s cool, we have all been there. We aren’t asking you to be an emotionless robot (as awesome as being a robot may be). But we are asking you to be aware of how your mood affects others. Bad vibes are like an infectious disease, spreading them around is easy to do. On the other hand, good vibes spread like butter on warm toast….. yum.
Making yourself available to everyone and receptive to communication is a double-edged sword. It lends itself to teamwork, but it can also be incredibly disruptive to your personal workflow. Learning how to wield this sword like a true master takes time. Being aware of your teammates’ priorities is the first step: If someone has their headphones on they are probably in the zone and would appreciate minimal disruption.
Communication is great, but action is better. Of all the things we have learned in our time developing team communication, we have found that if you focus too much on planning, meeting and coordinating, not a whole lot gets done! Good communication should make you more effective at executing and acting, not worse.
Structure & Teams
It is amazing how much time some companies spend developing their “organizational structure”, let alone the time spent navigating that structure just trying to figure out who the hell is responsible for approving the purchase of new staples. Structure isn’t necessarily a bad thing and it can serve really big companies well.
The way we see it: if a structure or a certain type of organization helps you or your people work more effectively as a team, then do it. A company is nothing more than a collection of people that are working towards the same goal, and THAT is the only structure that matters.
If we think that a bit of structure will help us work more effectively as a team then we are all for it. So far we have found the “all hands on deck” approach to work best for us.
We strive for a flat structure. Everyone works together towards the same goal. If someone is blocking you on something, let them know - even the CEO. But be careful, he is known to bite.
We are all a part of one team, even though we may be working on different things. That’s not to say that smaller teams don’t have their merit. They define our responsibilities by bringing efficiency and defining roles.
Leaders can come from anywhere. Taking point on a project and seeing it through is something we encourage all of our people to do.
You should never say, “that’s not in my job description.” If someone is asking for help, or is in need of some support, do what you can. You should feel empowered to right wrongs you see, and to pick up new skills and contribute in new ways.
Sometimes, when companies talk about their “Values” it can seem more like a PR gimmick than an expression of what they hold dear. For instance, British American Tobacco claims to value “Conscious responsibility”. Seems legit.
We like to believe that our values are what keep us on track and what makes this company great. But it is really hard to state your values without sounding like a hot winded pompous philosopher. (Trust us, we know what they sound like, we have a couple).
So here is what we value, put as simply as possible:
The user comes first. We believe in giving people the tools they need to succeed financially. We believe that helping our users to escape debt is the first step to building wealth. And we want ALL of our users to reach this goal.
Grow the company, and make it a successful vibrant business. To us, this is really an extension of value #1. If our users are successful, then we will be successful. Revenues and making a profit are not things that are at odds with the service we provide, they go hand-in-hand.
Teamwork, Collaboration, Support, and Accomplishments. We know that we risk sounding like one of those cheesy motivational posters you find on the HR department’s wall, but we really do value these things. It is the best feeling in the world working with people and getting stuff done. We will always strive to become better at working together, helping one another, and celebrating each others’ successes.
Friendship, and Happy, Healthy people. We take every opportunity we get to further the friendships we have made working together. Sure, this may be work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy doing it. High fives, beers, practical jokes, and nicknames are all common around here. That said we try to keep the 24-hour party scheduled to a minimum. We aren’t as young as we used to be.
We spend a lot of time in our office, and we try to make it a place that is enjoyable to be, and a place that we actually want to be. Sure it can get stressful at times, but it can also be a lot of fun. We like to think of this place as the company’s home. It’s a lot like your parents’ house: there is always food in the fridge and you can come and go as you please. There is even an office mom who will nag you to clean your desk!
Home can be a pretty vague concept that can mean different things to different people. Here is what we think about our home:
- This is a creative place.
- This is a place where you can get things done.
- This is a place of collaboration and teamwork, where interaction leads to execution.
- This is a positive environment where good times are encouraged.
- This is our place, we contribute to its state and make of it what we will.
- This is a place you should want to be, or at least enjoy being, make changes for the better.
- This the home of Sir Winston Pufflebottom, it should be a place fit for a prince.