Patrick Collison, the co-founder of Stripe, explains what he’s actively trying to achieve with the culture at Stripe:
…there are a few things that we really prize and try to seek in the people we hire:
First, a kind of rigor and clarity of thought. So many organizations prize smoothness in interactions and try to reduce or minimize the number of ruffled feathers. And they at least inadvertently, if not deliberately, prefer cohesion over correctness, and we really try to identify people who are seeking correctness and who don’t mind being wrong and who are willing to at least contemplate things that seem improbable or surprising if true or really divergent [from] that which is the generally accepted status quo…we look for that combination of openness and rigor.
…a determination and competitiveness, and I guess willfulness, in that… doing anything of significance is hard. Anyone who’s tried to do anything that they themselves considered significant knows that very viscerally. And especially for a startup, the default outcome is your relatively near-term non-existence. The default outcome is that you do not survive; and to survive over the medium or, even with more difficulty, over the long term, that is like an unnatural act. And so you need to find people who not just are willing to push against the expected trajectory of non-existence, but people who actually enjoy that, who want that. Because if they’re merely willing to do it but they don’t actually enjoy it, then the work is probably going to be less fulfilling for them over the medium term.
And I really don’t think that is for everyone and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. The cliché, of course, is that startups are extraordinarily hard, and they just are. You want somebody who is at a stage in their life where that’s the kind of challenge they want, where the fact that the particular area in which they’re going to be working is undefined or significantly under-built-out or significantly broken or whatever the case might be, that that’s what they’re looking for.
And then we try to find people who just have… interpersonal warmth and a desire to make others around them better and just a degree of caring for others and a desire to be, nice is kind of an anodyne word, but to be nice to them and to make them better off. We really try to find people who you just actively enjoy spending time with.
You spend such a large fraction of your life inside the walls and under the roof of whatever organization [or] institution you’re working at, and so, given that I really think it’s worth prioritizing this and I think, I of course don’t know for sure, but I think we go to some greater lengths to find these people than other organizations tend to do. There’s other things as well. It almost goes without saying, but we really care a great deal about ethics and integrity and people, but I think so too do a lot of other organizations.
I think the three that really stand out to me are this rigor and clarity of thought, this hunger, appetite, willfulness, determination, and this … warmth and desire to make people around them better off.