While studying Industrial Engineering and working in that field, I focused on how to solve problems using limited resources, minimizing waste in a process or in a new innovative way. I have always had a personal motivation around seeking exciting problems to solve – the ones that challenged me the most. However, in the first days of starting Mavrck with the other founders, I realized that there was a key element of solving problems that I hadn’t been prioritizing before: who you solve those problems with. For many of us, who you work with — who you share highs and lows with and ‘go into battle’ with — is as important as what you are doing in your role and the accomplishments you achieve. The energy, experiences and ambition that your co-workers bring to the team is more critical to the company’s success than the mind power of the individuals alone.

Seeing this, we have always strived to prioritize the people at Mavrck over processes and profits. We identify our company employees as ‘squad members’ to align ourselves with the best performing groups out there – from soccer teams, to squadrons in aviation, to the group you spend your weekend with and celebrate achieving “squad goals” together. We call our squad members ‘Curious Hustlers’ to capture the core values of our culture: curiosity and hustle. We know that prioritizing how we can support growth of our team through curiosity and hustle will empower them to solve problems that create the best processes that yield the most profits. 

To build a squad that can solve the toughest problems, we must discover and celebrate the uniqueness of each team member, while also creating an environment that supports belonging. These are two key ingredients that drive how we talk to people who are looking to invest their time and grow by joining the Mavrck squad. Since conducting our very first interviews back in 2014, we have had a dedicated culture conversation in the process for every role we hire. We like to position it from the outset as a conversation – not an interview – to make clear that it is meant to be a dialogue and not a typical one-sided Q&A. I believe that a conversation better sets the tone for reflection, vulnerability and a dialogue about personal values. 

Originally, this section of our interview process was called ‘culture fit.’ However, as we observed which candidates became the squad members with the most impact, we learned that it was not the ones that fit but rather the ones that contributed to our organization and co-created our culture. If we set out to look for “fit,” we are not actually looking for uniqueness, and are setting expectations to find those who are similar to us – that fit in. Instead, we shifted towards looking for individuals that diversify our company composition in as many dimensions as possible. Demonstrating an alignment with the core values is important to help ground conversations, navigate conflict and help us grow in the right direction. However, adding squad members that demonstrate they can contribute to our culture will evolve us further, and we’ll become faster at solving harder problems over time. If we consider our team composition to be a puzzle, with each new hire we are hoping to find pieces that fit gaps in our puzzle and simultaneously expand the borders of the puzzle. 

To open the culture conversation in all of our interviews, we share with the candidate and set expectations that the goal of the conversation is to:

1) Understand a Values Alignment – Instead of searching for ‘fit,’ we are looking to see how the candidate aligns themselves with the core values of Mavrck. Alignment allows for flexibility in how the candidate may display the value and is less rigid or prescriptive. We are not looking for the right answer, but instead that the root of their behavior or thinking is aligned with the company values. 

2) Look for Culture Contribution – We specifically state that we are not looking for more of “ourselves” but instead looking for how the candidate will enhance the squad and contribute to the evolution of Mavrck’s culture. By looking at our company as that puzzle of different experiences, expertise, maturity, etc., we can look for and find pieces to address our gaps or dead zones.

3) Establish a 50/50 Conversation – The culture conversation is an opportunity for the candidate to ask the questions that may not have fit in other interviews — such as, what motivates our squad, what are our values or what ‘keeps us up at night.’ Setting the stage as a 50/50 conversation encourages the candidate to engage in a dialogue that we hope gets their wheels turning. 

Having a dialogue about culture and the importance of it at Mavrck has enabled us to continue to put people, as humans, at the core of how we grow. We are looking for people who are passionate about growth – growth for themselves, for the team they join and growth for the startup they will be a part of. If I breakdown why I love solving problems, it is because at the outcome, there is a learning. Acknowledging that you can solve harder problems faster by surrounding yourself with a squad that is aligned with you and different than you, increases the opportunity for everyone to constantly be learning. Challenge yourself to have conversations with candidates where you identify how they will contribute to your culture and force you to evolve. 

If you are interested in what questions we ask in the culture conversation, send me a message at [email protected]!