Web Design

The Startup World is Just Fine

Fuck my startup world?  Seriously?  Dude, chill out.
 
In an article on Medium, Shem decries the evils he sees in the startup culture.  Not the evils of privileged white men making apps for privileged white men or failing to hire minorities or relying on contractors instead of employees or the evils of the "sharing economy" in general.  Shem's problem seems to be with the kind of scotch they serve at these companies.
 
To be fair: Shem works at one of these companies.  So I think his critique was meant somewhat tongue in cheek.  Also to be fair, I don't; I work at a certified B corporation that is actually trying to save the world.  But I have worked at my share of startups and I've experienced firsthand all the things Shem is criticizing.  Putting aside the fact that he is criticizing the wrong things, he's still wrong.  Here's why.
 
Fuck your startup scene with your 30 minute morning routines of reading TechCrunch
 
What's wrong with being plugged into an industry?  Wallstreet bankers read the WSJ every day.  People in Hollywood read Entertainment Weekly or whatever the hell passes for news down there.  Being informed about your industry isn't a bad thing.
 
Fuck your crazy work hours.
 
No.  Stop it.  You're wrong.  If you don't want to work crazy hours, don't work at a startup.  Yes, it's crazy that Elon Musk works 100 hour weeks.  No, you don't have to do that.  Unless you want to be as successful as he is.  You don't?  That's fine too; neither do I.  I'd prefer to have a wife and kids, but that's my choice.
 
There's a larger truth here: a career choice is really a lifestyle choice.  Some people prefer to work 40 hours a week and have families and spend time with them.  Some people choose to work 100 hours a week and become billionaires.  The real question is to decide what's important, and then go get it.  Don't listen to anyone who tells you you're wrong.
 
Fuck your drinking culture
 
What the hell is wrong with drinking?  I didn't learn to drink in tech; I learned to drink in my past life as an attorney.  All attorneys drink.  A lot better than these techie nerds.  (Yes, there is such a thing as "better," and no, you don't have it.)  Alcohol is a chemical depressent that is used by a lot of people to alleviate the effects of stress.  I'm not saying self-medicating is a good thing, but it's certainly not unique to the tech culture.  No, I'm not going to switch jobs just because you have Glenlivet 17.  But yes, it is an attractive perk.  (We're going to rant more about perks in a minute.)
 
Fuck your eating disorders
 
Oh, shut up.  Now you're just reaching.  You can't simultaneously criticize someone for eating too much and also not eating enough.  Yes, Soylent sounds terrible.  I don't know anyone who actually does that.  At my job, the company caters a team lunch once a week.  At my last job, it was every day.  It was actually a great chance to take a break from your work, sample a delicious meal cooked by a local restaurant (a hell of a lot better than that PB&J you're packing), and bond with my coworkers.  It's also smart from the company's perspective.  At a previous job that didn't cater, employees often left the office to have 2 hour lunches.  If the food is right there, you're back to work much faster.  Which, if you're passionate about what you do, is a good thing.
 
Incidentally, I now work in the Mission District, the world leader for delicious burritos.  At this point I've had most of them.
 
And fuck all those parties
 
This is related to the drinking thing.  If you're working at a startup, you'll probably be unemployed in 6 months, in spite of the fact that you're working your ass off every day.  You're working way harder than you otherwise would, at something you really believe in.  I've seen people lose relationships over this stuff.  (Again, I wouldn't make that choice, but I understand why some people would.)  That's really stressful.  If you don't kick back every once in a while, you're going to burn out, which isn't good for anyone.  Another round of funding means your company can keep going for another 6 months.  That is worth celebrating.
 
Fuck your open space floor plans
 
You don't know what the fuck you're talking about.  Have you ever worked in a cubicle?  I have.  It's awful.  Go try it and then tell me how much you hate open floor plans.
 
Fuck reading a book a week. No one can read that fast.
 
Now you just sound embarassed.  OK, maybe you're not a very good reader.  That's ok, I understand.  Not everybody is.  Nothing to be ashamed of.  But you're just embarassing yourself if you claim it's impossible to get through 300 pages in 7 days.  In law school, I did that in one day.  Fine, we're not talking about lawyers, but techies are pretty smart too.
 
Fuck “entrepreneurs”
 
No, there is a difference between being an entrepreneur and being unemployed.  I've done both.  Yes, "entrepreneur" is overused and overrated.  If anyone ever introduced themselves to me as "Hi, I'm an entrepreneur," I would walk away from them immediately.
 
But, I live in the Bay Area.  There are more startups here per capita than anywhere in the world.  This is quite literally where dreams are made.  I know more than my fair share of people who are chasing some crazy idea that might just work.  I know one or two who actually succeeded at it.
 
Also?  It's 2016.  For people entering the workforce now, the economy has failed us.  Yes, the economy is recovering, but it's never going to be what it was.  The Dow may be up and unemployment may be down and the GDP may be climbing slowly, but employers no longer have the same attitudes toward their employees that they once did.  Nobody stays at the same job for 30 years any more, and if they did, their boss wouldn't give them a Rolex for it.  Especially in the legal industry, the jobs that used to exist simply don't any more.  So, more and more of my friends are striking out on their own and helping themselves because the traditional economy won't help them.
 
And by the way?  Some pretty awesome stuff has come out of garages.  I don't even need to mention Apple because you already know.
 
Fuck you productivity freaks
 
If you woke up at 6am, good for you.  Most of my coworkers aren't in the office until 10am - but they all stay later than me.  (I keep more normal hours because I want to join my kids for dinner.)  If someone else woke up at 4:30am, good for them.  Don't feel bad, you're still doing a good job.  You don't need to resent them for it.
 
Fuck you and your stupid interview questions
 
If you can't do well in an interview, go find yourself a more traditional job.  If you're smart enough to work at a startup, you're smart enough to work at a traditional company too.  Startups are looking for employees that are creative and original thinkers.  These questions are designed to test that.
 
You should also remember that every interview is two-way.  If you don't like the interview questions, that's a sign you might not like working for that company either.
 
Fuck your fucking jargon and acronyms
 
Because, like, other industries don't have acronyms?  Try doing something else for a while.  Anything.  Tell me it doesn't have acronyms.
 
Fuck the transparency trend, the post mortem and the 5 whys
 
So you're the Harvard Business Journal now?  You think because you've worked at 1-2 startups that you have insight into what's a good business practice and what's not?  Seriously, you're going to criticize A/B testing?  Are metrics evil too?  I know you don't like it when a website changes.  But I need to tell you a Truth, son.  Change is part of life.  You're going to have to learn to accept that the login button is on the other side of the menu now.  There there, it's ok.
 
Fuck the ridiculous incentives that you give
 
I've actually talked about this before, but I forgive you for not being a regular reader of my blog.  Tech companies have to fight very hard for good talent, even if you're Apple or Facebook.  Nobody switches jobs for a ping pong table (although yes, I will absolutely play on the table if you have one).  Techies pick a job based on what they think will give them the most satisfaction and fulfillment.  It's about the work you let them do.  Still, once you've attracted that awesome talent, you need to hold on to it.  That's where the snacks and the ping pong tables and the Glenlivet 17 come in.  It's also about morale.  I worked at a startup that had video game machines in the break room.  When I got frustrated with my work, I'd go slay some zombies for 15 minutes then go back to work with a clear head.  These things aren't ridiculous; they're carefully designed to retain talent and make them happy.
 
So, why don't other industries do this?  Two reasons: (1) This is a new industry that has the chance to do things from scratch, and (2) Other industries don't have to compete so hard for workers.  That's not completely true, but if you look at other industries where workers are in very high demand, they are also highly paid and often get cool perks too.
 
Don't knock the unlimited vacation policy either.  Yes, I know I'll end up taking less vacation as a result.  Everyone knows it.  But I love not having to track my accrued PTO.  I love being able to say "I need to take a day off for the Jewish High Holidays" without worrying about whether I've earned that much time off after 6 months.  My wife has to bid on her days off; even if she's earned the time, she might not be allowed to use it.  Even worse, most companies have a maximum limit to accrued PTO, which means after a certain point, you're no longer earning it.  That's . . . obscene.  "Unlimited vacation time" means you don't have to worry about the difference between sick days and PTO, or accrual, or any of that bullshit.  Just do what makes sense to you and to your team.
 
fuck you for making me one of you
 
Yeah, we know you're one of us.  It's ok.  It's a fun ride, you may as well enjoy it.

clever girl