#11: Why I'm glad I didn't join that startup

It's crucial to know yourself when looking for a job.

Hi folks,

Today’s thought is a LinkedIn post I didn’t publish, drafted at the time I was interviewing intensively after being laid off from Shopify.

I wanted to share it now because 1) layoffs are still happening and 2) it feels like a follow-up of yesterday’s post about not wanting to work at google.

I’ll share the lightly edited draft first, then reflect on it at the bottom of the post.


20 May 2023

It's CRUCIAL for you to know yourself when looking for a job. Here's a story of something that happened that illustrates this.

I just interviewed as a founding software engineer at a company whose mission I believe in (rare these days as I get older and have more experience).

I was drawn to this company not only because the founder and I had a rapport from our first call (which we did), but because I believe this person has the experience, connections, and energy to make this company successful.

But... I ultimately decided not to join them after our short rendezvous. I turned them down because:

  • 🚫 They required me to work more than 40 hours a week. 8am - 7pm was what they said.
  • 🚫 They required me to be in the office because (they believe) that enables a quick feedback cycle and for good company culture to take shape.

The key is this: sometimes it's hard to arrive at "no," even when you know yourself as someone who cares a lot about keeping work at work and living a full life outside of work.

You've got your priorities clear, yet you occasionally succumb to temptation and compromise on them for ancillary gains like "a great chance to learn and grow" and "equity that may be worth a lot of money."

And it's worth mentioning this – in my opinion, it's valid for an early-stage startup to require employees to work harder than those at regular jobs. I understand it completely.

It's just not for me.

This, right here, is clarity.

This clarity comes from us knowing ourselves and what our priorities are.

Knowing who I am and what I want – I was able to make this decision and I don't regret it. I'm going to continue interviewing at other companies that can give me the balance that I seek.


Okay, time for the reflection on my reflection.

Cue obligatory DALL-E 3 generated image that just made writing today’s post a little more colourful. (Image: DALL-E 3)

The first thing that stood out was how ridiculous 8am - 7pm sounds to me now. I work 9am - 6pm at the job I eventually found, and I’m happy with it. Sometimes, I even wish the hours would be shorter, or that we all would have 4-day work weeks already, but those hedonistic thoughts probably deserve their own post.

Another thing that popped out: founders with the chops to execute an idea because of their connections, experience, and energy, are alluring. It’s like an attractive stranger offering you a ride in their luxury Bentley that happens to be heading the way you’re wanting to go (riches, with impact along the way). But if you realised it’s a two-seater and your wife and kid are waving to you from the rearview mirror, that’s no good.

I’m glad I made the choice not to work for that startup. I hope they’re doing great without me.

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