Joining a Mission-Driven Company

“Men (and women) wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.” — Earnest Shackleton

Earnest Shackleton was a polar explorer who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic. He ran this infamous ad in the newspaper to recruit people to join him for his Endurance expedition.

In 2006, I read a job description with the same quote from a small advertising agency in New Orleans called Trumpet. They were recruiting people to move to New Orleans to help rebuild the city right after Hurricane Katrina.

At the time, I was thinking through the purpose of my work and career. And how it tied back to driving direct impact in the world.

I answered the ad, packed my bags and moved to NOLA. I landed at the first Mardi Gras after Hurricane Katrina and fell in love with the city, the mission, and knowing that I was putting in my little part for the greater good.

This was a transformative experience for me. The passion, mission, and energy I felt during that time was something I wanted to feel for the rest of my career. It was addictive.

During that year I saw talented people move into the 504 from all around the world. It ranged from Harvard students to people moving back into the 9th Ward that were previously displaced.

The difference was that a lot of those people (me included) moved out of the city to start their careers. Even though we wanted to drive impact, it felt like our choices were limited to volunteering at a non-profit or working at a for-profit company.

When I started Skillshare, the goal was to create a company that combined the best of both worlds: for-profit & for-good.

A company where the pursuits of company growth, revenue and mission are one and the same. The bigger we can scale Skillshare, the bigger impact we can have on the world.

For me, this had an added benefit of knowing that your work matters, feeling invested, and feeling tied to it. It’s the same feeling I had when I worked in New Orleans.

This is the thread that connects everyone at Skillshare. We designed the culture here to attract those misfits. Those that want to change the status quo and build a company that can last for the next 100 years.

When a young adult asks for my advice, I advise them to think through their career through the lens of three buckets: skills fit, culture fit, and mission fit.

The biggest lesson I learned: if you want to be impactful in your lifetime, optimize for purpose.

Making sure you can do the job (skills) and making sure you believe in the same values (culture) are important. But, having a sense of purpose is what will get you excited to come to work every single day.

If the Earnest Shackleton quote resonated with you, we’re hiring.