This Company Works With 98% Of The Fortune 500 — Here Are Their 6 Values

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A little while ago I got to chat with Forbes 30-under-30 list member Ben Christensen.

He’s one of the co-founders of Handshake, a company that helps connect 6 million college students to better internships, jobs, and opportunities across America. In fact, 98% of Fortune 500 companies use their platform to post jobs for new graduates.

As a funny side note, I recently emailed my alma mater asking to post an internship opportunity there, and they directed me to the Handshake platform because THEY were even using it.

Talk about coming full-circle.

Ben Christensen (LEFT) and Co-Founders.

Anyway, during the interview with Ben for my upcoming magazine, he talked about the six values Handshake lives by. I was kind of struck by how simple, yet powerful they were, and I wanted to share them with you because I think any successful business needs to ingrain these ideas deeply into their culture.

Here they are:


1. Students First

“Our mission is ​to democratize access to opportunity and ensure any student can build a great career no matter who they know, where they live or what school they attend. ​We empathize deeply with our students to increase career opportunities for all.”

Translation for your business: Focus on your customers FIRST AND FOREMOST, but don’t just focus — empathize with them.

I could really hear Ben’s thoughtfulness on our call:

“That’s why we’re here and that’s what we care about.”

Do the same, and you’ll have taken the first step towards creating a sustainable business.


2. Focus On Impact

“We stay humble and work hard to democratize opportunity for all students. We like to have fun -and we do! — but we’re more focused on making an impact. Yes, of course we have a ping-pong table — it’s just packed away in the closet!”

Translation for your business: It’s okay to have fun, but make sure you’re coming in every day making an impact for your customers.

Especially in the startup culture of San Francisco, businesses might get a little carried away having too much fun at the office (those nap pods though *raises hands*).

Ben elaborates:

“We like to stay humble and work really hard to democratize that opportunity for all students and we do really like to have fun but it’s focusing on making that impact, right? How are we each day moving forward and making an impact with that mission?”

3. Move Quickly, But Don’t Rush

“We believe speed wins, and our operational pace is incredibly fast. Moving quickly while staying aligned requires strategic thought, collaboration, and frequent communication.”

Translation for your business: Moving quickly requires a great deal of communication and collaboration. Make sure to keep contact with the team a priority, because this will ultimately help you move faster.

Ben elaborates:

“Speed really wins and our operational pace around that is incredibly fast, but you also really need to make sure while you’re moving so quickly that you need to be strategically thinking, collaborating and communicating on a regular basis to enable that quick speed.”

4. Learn. Grow. Repeat.

An early picture of Handshake’s SF-based team. Now they’re 80+ employees strong!
“We embrace a growth mindset, enabling our team to face obstacles with a tenacious desire to turn challenges into opportunities for growth. We are relentlessly curious, working to close the gap between what we currently know and what we need to know to be as effective as possible.”

Translation for your business: Look for the opportunity in challenges. It’s okay to fail as long as you’re learning something along the way.

Ben elaborates:

“We really encourage relentless curiosity and trying to close that gap between what we know and what we need to know. We really want to be an effective and growing team.”

5. Act With Empathy

“We listen closely to understand our users and clients, approach challenges with curiosity, and treat our colleagues and clients with compassion.”

Translation for your business: Handshake is so focused on the end user that they have two sections in their Company Values list for them. You can never be too focused on the challenges, opportunities, and pain points of your customers.

Ben elaborates:

“There was so much work to be done and so much that we wanted to make an impact on that we were just like, let’s focus! Sometimes we didn’t spend enough time to step back and look at everything that was happening and changing, we were always just like what’s the next thing?”

6. Empowered By Diversity

“We are building an inclusive & diverse community — both on the Handshake platform and across our team. We believe diverse teams create more thoughtful and innovative solutions and that diverse companies are more successful.”

Translation for your business: There’s no excuse for not being diverse as a company. It makes sense from both a moral and creative standpoint.

Ben elaborates:

“Both the Handshake platform itself and our team, we think that diverse teams create more thoughtful and innovative solutions, and that diverse companies are much more successful. So really being empowered by diversity is really important piece to us as well.”

Keep these six values in mind, and you’ll be able to guide any future business decision with ease and confidence.

To get more amazing startup/business insights from Ben Christensen, read his 5-page spread in my free Post-Grad Survival Guide Magazine.


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