Our Values

Ananda Aisola
COO
May 1, 2020
Thoughts

The following values guide our hiring and product decisions. If they resonate with you, it's quite likely you'll enjoy working with us. As a general rule, we're looking for someone who is Honest, Hard-working, Product-oriented, and a Team Player. As an early employee at Composer, we're counting on you to set the tone for the next 1000 team members!

Honesty

  1. Always err on the side of being too honest, whether with our customers or internally. It may sting in the short term, but it's how trust is built in the long term.
    • Recommended reading: Radical Candor
  2. Integrity - The world of finance is full of charlatans and misaligned incentives; admitting mistakes is tolerated - hiding them to the detriment of the company is intolerable.
  3. Avoid Gossip. Gossip is human nature and nobody should feel guilty for wanting to indulge in gossip, but know that gossip culture has destroyed many organizations by breeding paranoia, distrust, and rival cliques.
  4. Play long term games with long term people. If you're an employee at Composer, you're already awesome and you will be rewarded commensurate to your contribution. Recognize that status games within startups are a waste of time and energy. Optimize for the success of the company - and by extension your equity and long run career - not short term status and titles.

Hard Work

  1. Think like Mark Watney in the Martian: no obstacle is insurmountable, even if it might feel that way. There's always a creative solution to any problem. Everyone at Composer needs to think like the proverbial entrepreneur building a plane after jumping off a cliff.
    • Recommended reading: The Martian
  2. Stare schleps right in the face instead of avoiding them. Fintech is always going to involve schlep work - the more schleps we conquer, the deeper our moat.
    • Recommended reading: The Hard Thing About Hard Things; Paul Graham on Schleps
  3. Good communication, like good thinking, is hard work. Write important ideas in long form narratives: this will make your ideas both clearer to others and to yourself.
    • Recommended reading: Jeff Bezos' Shareholder Letters
  4. Startups, like life, are struggle. Composer was founded in a once in a 100 year downturn. Embrace the struggle, don't whine.
    • Recommended reading: The Tao of Seneca, Meditations, The Obstacle is the Way, Bhagavad Gita.

Product-focused

  1. The product is never done, our customers are divinely discontent. This applies to all aspects of our customer experience - it can always be better.
  2. Keep it Simple, Stupid. Make everything as simple as possible - but no simpler.
  3. "Strong beliefs loosely held"
    • Corollary: You have an obligation to dissent if you have conviction on a point that goes against the status quo. But be prepared to hear why you might be wrong.

Teamwork

  1. We operate like a sports team - show up, do your best, look out for each other, aim to win.
  2. Be supportive of early ideas. Never assume "there's no point pursuing this idea because someone else would have already thought about it." This is akin to the classic economist joke: Someone sees $20 on the floor and an economist tells them "don't pick up the $20, because someone would have already picked it up!" All ideas are ugly babies when they are first born - they take time to grow and develop; as Ed Catmull at Pixar says, "don't kill the baby."
    1. Recommended reading: Creativity Inc.
  3. Increase talent density over time. When hiring someone, ensure they raise the average talent level of the entire team across multiple dimensions.
  4. Assume good intentions in people. When someone inevitably steps on your toes, let it go. (This of course doesn't apply to sexual harassment or racist, homophobic, bigoted, or otherwise abusive behavior, which should be reported immediately).
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