The thing about working in a cool company

Posted by kdow on May 11, 2014 11:22:51 PM

I work in a cool company.

It’s a company people clamour to work for. A company with an interesting trajectory, great story and great product that people love. It’s not Google, but the internal culture (that we publicise a lot) would be thought of as very Google-esque these days.

I’ve helped to recruit a lot of people into the business by referrals. I helped get our local engineering & support teams kick started. Through my network I’m regularly “that guy” to chat to about joining this cool company. I hang around with a lot of other folks who work in cool companies. Even cooler are the folks who’ve taken the plunge to do a startup alone.

I’ve been approached in bars during meet-ups, at conferences and at formal events where I represented the company. People are always fascinated about the culture of working in a cool company with a beer fridge, ping-pong table and FIFA tournaments. They’re always curious as to how we maintain such an ever-expanding customer base while developing world class software & manage to drink shots of fernet when it’s someones birthday.

I know friends of mine in other cool companies get the exact same series of questions.

But there’s a big, glaring thing that everyone forgets. It doesn’t matter if you work for an established cool company or raw startup. Yeah, there’s a games room & beer fridge to enjoy & there’s a lot of talk about culture. But the big thing everyone forgets is that the work is intense.

People ask if it’s fun to work in a cool company. It is. People ask if it’s a lot of work to work in a cool company. It is.

I always say the same thing to folks. The company is fun, the atmosphere is exciting and the people are smart. Yeah, there’s ping-pong and beer. But there’s a huge amount of work to be done. My mantra is that the work you do in a company (cool or otherwise) should excite you to elicit the best from you. But it should also never be crushingly stressful. Stress leads to bad mojo all around.

So instead of being stressful, work should be rewarding, but also intense. There’ll always be a lot of work to do. A lot of it will be hard. I work in the magical realm of software, so the work will involve a lot of brain power. I can’t lift anything, but I know how to use a javascript console & explain errors to folks!

Work is never outlandishly stressful, but it’s always intense. If it’s stressful then something’s gone wrong.

So when people talk to me about working in a cool company, they’ll always focus on the beer fridge & ping-pong, but I’ll always focus on the fact that there’s a lot of intense work to be done.

This post was inspired by my girlfriend’s curiosity around why I was working at 11pm on Sunday!