One of the ballsiest moves I have seen in a long time occurred on TWiST #42 when Josh Nielsen called in to ask “How do you value equity when being offered a position at a startup?”. If you don’t remember by the end of the call we find out that Josh just interviewed at Mahalo.
It took a lot of confidence for you to call in like you did, do you think it helped? Were you worried about the downside?
JN – Well, it was kind of funny because before the call was even over I got an e-mail from Jacob Burch at Mahalo who was watching the show, so it definitely helped get the ball rolling. Apparently several people at Mahalo knew it was me calling in except Jason. It is a little tough to say if Jason appreciated it at the time. I think I caught him off guard. Judging from the response I got during the call from Jason and later from others at Mahalo, I think that it at least helped me be memorable. I was definitely worried that I might piss him off. I was gambling on the hope that he would appreciate it as a ballsy move. I had done a technical interview with Jacob a week before and had not heard back so I was worried I was going to slip through the cracks, I figured I needed to do something to stand out.
What position were you hired for?
JN – I applied for a Junior Web Developer position but in subsequent interviews I was informed that Mahalo doesn’t necessarily hire for any particular position. They like to let you try different things and find what you are best at. I like that.
What is your background?
JN – I am currently pursuing a BA in Computer and Information Sciences at Brigham Young University – Hawaii. I have been working as a web developer for the University for the past 3 years using Drupal and Django. I also have a consulting business on the side that has given me a lot of great experience.
Did your call-in come up when the offer was made?
JN – Yeah, I had 3 more interviews after the call and it always came up. Everyone seemed to think it was a bold move and since they knew it was me as they were watching the show, I think they got a good laugh out of it.
What is the biggest thing you look forward to in your new job?
JN – I am very much looking forward to learning about the problems and solutions surrounding a website with such high traffic. Scalability is something that I have never had to worry about much as of yet. I hope to have my own web service based company and the experience I will get at Mahalo will be invaluable. Also the startup culture that Jason and Mahalo have cultivated is very cool and there is a lot to be absorbed there as well.
Did you talk to Jason prior to getting hired after the call, if so, did he bring up the call?
JN – My final interview was with Jason, he initially asked if I was the one who called in, but we quickly moved on. I think the call-in helped me keep my foot in the door, but he was much more interested in assessing whether I would mix well into their existing culture. I was sticking around Mahalo to attend an LA Django meetup in the evening and they invited me to spend the rest of the day there and exercise with the Mahalo fit club after work. It was probably the last thing I was expecting to be doing after an interview but it was fun and nice of them to give me a real taste of how they operate. I look forward to returning to work there, it seems like a job that would be fun to go to everyday.
I am happy for Josh that things worked out and I wish him the best at Mahalo, I think he will have a lot of fun and work hard at the same time.