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Joining the TRibe, Lesson One: Culture is King
Since its inception, Team Rubicon’s mission has been one of disruption, tenacity, service to others above oneself, bringing order to chaos, doing good and creating hope. While our dual mission – “Disasters are our Business, Veterans are our Passion” – tends to resonate with most people, working at Team Rubicon is not for everyone.
Since interest in working at Team Rubicon has never been higher, and we are in the throes of doubling our team over the next 15 months, I wanted to take an opportunity to share how TR thinks about hiring, what we look for in potential employees, and some practical advice for folks interested in exploring career opportunities at Team Rubicon. I assure you there are no easy checkboxes here – this isn’t about basic qualifications. TR is a lot more nuanced than that.
We demand a lot at Team Rubicon, and while we do our best to stay competitive, we seldom pay at the height of the market. Profanity is a cultural norm. “Don’t be a dick” is the letter of the law. Our cultural principles are non-negotiable. To us, Culture is King, and we see it as the intersection of our ethos (what we believe) and our action (what we do); it is always purposeful and never accidental. We trust and respect ourselves and others without exception. We – all of us – are the living embodiment of the TR brand. Team Rubicon is not for everyone.
Nor, though, are we exclusive. Indeed we do our best to cultivate a team, a culture, that is radically inclusive, that fosters diversity – of background, gender, ethnicity, of opinion and perspective, of style, age and creed. We are not going to change the world if we build a homogeneous vacuum; we’re not looking for everyone to be the same. We foster a workplace where healthy, spirited, constructive conflict is a measure of good health. Diversity of perspective is indispensable. We want to know: what do you bring that adds dimension and breadth to Team Rubicon?
We are looking for people who are drawn to a greater purpose. For whom service to others is a calling and a vital part of their life story. We are looking for people who dare boldly, who’ve demonstrated a track-record of audacity in their personal and professional pursuits. We won’t settle for mediocrity or timidity – we believe greatness is a matter of conscious choice and discipline. How have you cut through red-tape to make a difference in the world? What is the story, the theme, of your career? How is it compelling in the context of rebuilding communities, reintegrating our military veterans, and building the greatest disaster recovery organization in the world?
We have a bias for action. “Get Shit Done” is a prestigious designation awarded to one most audacious employee every month. We only hire people who demonstrate decisiveness and resolve, no matter the odds. Setbacks are excusable; excuses are not. Do you fight through chaos and get shit done? How do you take strategic objectives and turn them into actionable directives for yourself and others? What proverbial hills have you charged lately?
We value self-awareness and self-improvement. Team Rubicon’s operational tempo can be rigorous; disaster response and veteran reintegration is a taxing business. The work is cyclical, and some cycles will wear you down. How do you refill your tank. You owe it to yourself, your family and your coworkers to be your best self. Team Rubicon leaders set the example, taking care of themselves so they can be of service to others. How do you plan for self-maintenance and constant improvement?
Team Rubicon is taking its place among the most respected disaster response and veteran reintegration organizations in the world. We are becoming a professional army. As such, we are setting the bar ever higher, requiring the most professionally mature team in the industry. Adults only need apply. At TR, where rules aren’t necessary, rules aren’t found. In many ways, we are self-regulating, vigilant and protective over the special culture and team we are forming together. Divas, politics and theatrics have no home here – they will be shown the door. How you communicate, how you conduct yourself, your level of responsiveness, your instincts as a professional – these will be measured, and they will matter.
Finally, responsibility and accountability drive every decision we make. We are all given implicit trust to be good stewards of an extraordinary mission, and the vast resources of an organization that has never had more opportunity to do good. We must be vigilant and responsible with that opportunity. It is each of ours to capitalize or squander. We must spend every dollar like it matters. How do you think about stewardship? Every member of the TRibe is expected to be a transparent, accountable champion of TR’s resources. We are all owners of this brand. What have you owned?
But it’s not enough to try like hell to check these boxes – to try to tell a story that fits our cultural values. We require people for whom these values are intrinsic – for whom selfless service, grit, tenacity, professional maturity, self-awareness and accountability are disciplined, default settings. Team Rubicon’s mission requires us to run headlong into the impossible, into chaos, tangible and immediate, and to be sure-footed, decisive, optimistic. There’s little margin for error.
We need people foolish enough to think they can change the world, and smart enough to have a chance.
This job, this Team, is not for everyone. As you consider working with TR – and we hope you do, truly, consider this decision – please have the self-awareness to know whether the call we’re sending out is yours to answer. This is a call to serve, to set the example, to make personal and professional sacrifices, to raise the bar – for yourself and others. For those of us who’ve answered TR’s call, the reward has never been greater; but this reward, too, is not for everyone.
Josh Anderson is the Head of Talent Acquisition & Development for Team Rubicon. He is a former Marine Sergeant and a father to two under two.