David Goldberg Finding Impact

FIP 34: Avoiding Burnout, Maximum Employee Output and Hiring with a Dog, with David Goldberg

Founders Pledge asks tech entrepreneurs to make a commitment early on in their journey, that when they come into some liquidity, be that an exit or payout, they will give a portion of that to their favourite charity. This is an honest conversation and David opens up to some of his own confrontation with burnout and how he is creating a culture to protect from that happening to his staff. Listen on, and please use Twitter to add your voice to let David and others hear your views. Use the hashtag #findingimpact.

On this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How David aims to build a start-up charity that looks and behaves like a hot, new tech startup, so continuously optimising for efficiency, fun place to work, build the right culture, work really hard, but build in the right incentives to make this happen.
  • He believes charity stops short of this vision for one significant reason: startup workers can work at an unsustainable rate because they may get rewarded at the end of the sprint via a big payout. And it’s a finite period. At charities this doesn’t happen. In fact, the light at the end of tunnel keeps getting further away. The problems in the world are so big. And the light at the end of the tunnel is so intangible, the equation of big effort for big reward doesn’t add up. In fact it normally equals burnout.
  • Against this backdrop, how do you compete for talented individuals who might otherwise go to a tech startup, and then motivate, incentivise and retain them in a structure that doesn’t reward with outsized financial incentives and the intangibility of lives improved are distant and un-relatable.
  • David believes the solution could be in technology, and pairing with the tech startup founders themselves – who have that disruptive, “I’m-not-going-take-no-for-an-answer” mentality – with the effective altruist thinking – of rigour and rationality.
  • David believes that a culture rooted in care and support for your fellow workers is a promising way to counteract this dichotomy.
  • To act on a commitment of care and support for employees, can mean company away-days, flexible working hours, working from home, generous vacation, and above average pay bands.
  • If social sector organisations who don’t have a tangible light at the end of the tunnel but push their employees hard, they need to create a really supportive culture that builds and maintains strong mental health in their workforce.
  • David’s thesis for hiring covers (1) brute intellect; (2) value alignment; and (3) experience.
  • Brute intellect before experience because what they do is different and they don’t want people to bring baggage of charity inefficiency. And if you’re smart you can learn anything.
  • To test for intellect in an interview David brings his dog along. This gives insight into how people react to an unpredictable member of the interview panel, and allows the interviewer to somehow see them for who they are.
  • To date, they’ve rarely advertised for new employees. They’ll speak to people within their community, which get posted to the communities, and groups online, and informal job boards.
  • For their hiring process, firstly there’s a phonecall with their Chief of Staff, then a phonecall with a person within the department they’ll be working in, then a face-to-face with their COO, then finally, with the CEO (and the dog). Then finally (again) they hangout with the entire team for the afternoon, then they decide.


Connect with David:

What was your favourite lesson from this episode? Let me know on Twitter by clicking here!


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