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The Search for "Good"

Gregg Dixon

Credit: Boston Red Sox, Facebook

Credit: Boston Red Sox, Facebook

(Hint: It's Easy to Find Bright and Gritty)

We’re off and running (or, in our case, saving our customers money) at Voltus, having just been awarded an opportunity to provide 50 MWs of demand response in connection with Pennsylvania Act 129. As such, we’re hiring. Hiring is the ultimate on-the-job training; you can’t learn how to hire in school. Gregg and I have directly hired hundreds of people over the last decade. Most succeeded. Many started their own company. Many more became CEOs, Chief Commercial Officers, VPs of Sales or Engineering, CMO's, and product leaders at other successful companies. Of course, we made plenty of mistakes along the way, too, which has helped us refine our criteria for picking teammates. This post will explain who we look to hire, and why, with an emphasis on the element most difficult to spot: good. We know that if we follow our formula of hiring well, and provide a winning vision to the team, Voltus is guaranteed to be successful.

In short, we hire people who are bright, gritty, and good. We hire bright because energy markets are complicated and because you just can't train for raw intelligence. We hire gritty because there’s no substitute for hard work, for passionate perseverance, for self-initiative, for commitment, for a need to finish the job. We hire good because we want to be surrounded by human beings who make us better people. Bright + gritty, without good, is a bad combination (think Enron, for example) and, what's more, our culture loves to celebrate winning. Nobody likes celebrating with a jerk.

But what exactly is “good”? We provide the Voltus definition below. In addition, and importantly, we recognize that “good” people sometimes work for bad companies. We feel a deep responsibility to ensure that our “good” people at Voltus are supported, challenged, respected, and rewarded. We’ll explain how we’re doing our best to ensure that Voltus personifies good.

Defining Good

Future Hall of Famer Theo Epstein brought a World Series to Boston (after an 86 year drought) and may just do the same in Chicago (the Cubs’ drought extends back to 1908). Theo believes in “scouting the person more than the player.” We agree. Bright and gritty give us the player; good gives us the person. Think Big Papi vs. Manny.

Now, bright and gritty are objective. They’re easy to measure. They reveal themselves on resumes, they show up in interviews. But good? Good is subjective. My “good” can be different than your “good.” Said another way, if you’re not good, you’re not necessarily bad. You’re just not right for Voltus.

Compassionate, honest, respectful, customer-centric, fun, mission-driven, humble, followers of the Golden Rule, don’t-take-yourself-too-serious, team players. Those are all must-haves in our good, and they’re likely to be uncontroversial. Our good also includes direct, opinionated, evangelical, impatient, intense, loving people. That’s one special person. Which is exactly why it’s so important that we live up to the standard we seek in others.

Personifying Good

As leaders, we aim to help our teammates to be productive, to be happy, and to grow continually. That’s our charge to the Voltus team. To make that a reality, we commit to the following:

  • We make our values, strategy, and progress toward our goals crystal clear to everyone on the team - no hidden agendas
  • We ground everything in a business case, especially hiring. We will not over hire. Growth unsupported by long-term business prospects results in painful layoffs
  • We are inclusive and give every teammate an opportunity to bring solutions to the table every day - if you have a better way of doing things, bring it!
  • We prioritize the long-term, recognizing that this is sometimes easier said than done
  • We trust, since “trust leads to happy days,” per the Dalai Lama
  • We believe that people should live and work in a place they love. In other words, work from home with your dog by your side if you like
  • We encourage personal and professional development. A small, but symbolic, reward is that every teammate has an unlimited budget for reading material so long as it makes them a better person
  • We don't ask our employees to sign non-competes. If you want to leave Voltus, we’re failing you, and you should leave
  • We allow unlimited paid time off. Go away for the month of August with your family to Hungary. But figure out how we're going to hit goals - those won't change
  • We encourage out-of-the-office passions and we highlight teammate achievements
  • We do what we say we’re going to do

I love the team we’ve built and we're just getting warmed up. Our product is in demand, and we’re hiring. Come create some good with us.