Open AI achieve a huge success in a short time and it was the dream company.
Then the company board fire Sam Altman, who was in the lead.
Short time after, 505 of the 700 employees tell the board to resign.
What can we learn from this?
One of the worst mistakes I made in my career was to follow a path to work on a dream company. I really wanted to work in some companies, which would present a chance of causing an impact and create a great product.
During my journey, I kept improving myself and worked in many companies, knowing a lot of people of value along the way. But at the time of choosing the next opportunity to work with, I was always led by the product, by the vision of what could be built, like in this video from Steve Jobs in the early days of Apple. I could find myself saying the same things these engineers are saying in the video.
Years have passed and I was finally able to work on one of the dream companies I wanted, it’s the product I wanted to build and I started so excited. Result? Worst disappointment of my career.
The company wanted to build a killer product, but the wrong people were leading it. Nothing worked as expected and my only regret there was not leaving earlier…
Then you see the example of Open AI stated above, where most people seem to be keen to change the company at any time, but keep following the leadership they believe at. Now I watch again the Steve Jobs video above and I see something different - the engineers were not just following a product vision, they were following Jobs, who was leading the way to that vision and made them really excited in building it.
What these people probably know and I took so long to realize in my career is that
companies are just the recipient of a chemical reaction, it plays a very small role on which reaction will happen. What really matters to get an explosive reaction are the people - they are the ingredients that make that reaction to happen.
And how does that translate to practical actions?
Very recently a recruiter called me and asked whether there was any company I was interested in working at. I basically explained my mental model shifted to wanting to work in companies I like, to wanting to work with the people I like.
So here is my suggestion to you: next time you’re looking for a job, when you’re interviewing, ask the questions that will reveal to you who the people who will be working with you are, check whether they think like you, whether the mental model aligns, see how they think, what motivates them. If these things don’t match, it’s very unlikely all the rest will be of any help - you named it: language, technology, product, vision, tools, process… none of these will matter anything if you’re working with the wrong people. On the other hard, if all that is not ideal, but the people working with you are the right ones, then everything can be sorted, whatever is not good can be changed or evolved.
I learned the hard way that the people are the biggest asset a company can have, and I hope this article was useful to you to make you think about that next time you’re interviewing.
Best of luck in your jorney!