Culture At Vauld
Our core philosophy is people over process. More specifically, we have great people working together as a team of high performers. With this approach, we are an extremely flexible, fun, stimulating, creative, and successful organization.
1. Values are what we value
- You make wise decisions despite ambiguity
- You identify root causes and get beyond treating symptoms
- You think strategically, and can articulate what you are, and are not, trying to do
- You are good at using data to inform your intuition
- You make decisions based on the long term, not near term
- You accomplish amazing amounts of important work
- You demonstrate consistently strong performance so colleagues can rely upon you
- You make your colleagues better
- You focus on results over process
- You learn rapidly and eagerly
- You contribute effectively outside of your specialty
- You make connections that others miss
- You seek to understand our members around the world, and how we serve them
- You seek alternate perspectives
- You un-learn quickly when markets and situations change
- You say what you think, when it’s in the best interest of Vauld, even if it is uncomfortable
- You are willing to be critical of the status quo
- You make tough decisions without agonizing
- You take smart risks and are open to possible failure
- You question actions inconsistent with our values
- You are able to be vulnerable, in search of truth
- You fight despite the difficulty — for every victory, we’re probably going to have 10 losses.
- You seek what is best for Vauld, rather than what is best for yourself or your group
- You are open-minded in search of the best ideas
- You make time to help colleagues
- You share information openly and proactively
- You are known for candor, authenticity, transparency, and directness
- You only say things about fellow employees that you say to their face
- You admit mistakes freely and openly
- You treat people with respect independent of their status or disagreement with you
2. High Performance
Imagine if every person at Vauld is someone you respect and learn from
Our version of the great workplace is a team of high performers in pursuit of ambitious common goals aligning with the company’s vision. It is on such a team that you learn the most, perform your best work, improve the fastest, and have the most fun.
To have an entire company comprise of high performers (rather than just a few people) is challenging. Unquestionably, we have to hire well. We also have to foster collaboration, support information sharing, and discourage politics.
Why so insistent on high performance?
In procedural work, the best are 2x better than average.
In creative/inventive work, the best are 10x better than average — so there is a huge premium on creating effective teams comprising of the best people
We focus on managers’ judgment through the “keeper test” for each of their people: if one of the members of the team was thinking of leaving for another firm, would the manager try hard to keep them from leaving? Given our high-performance orientation, it is very important that managers communicate frequently with each of their team members about where they stand so surprises are rare.
Also, it is safe for any employee at any time to check in with their manager by asking, “How hard would you work to change my mind if I were thinking of leaving?” In the tension between honesty and kindness, we lean into honesty. No matter how honest, though, we treat people with respect.
People like loyalty, and it is great as a stabilizer. Team members with a strong track record at Vauld get leeway if their performance takes a temporary dip. Similarly, we ask employees to stick with us through any short-term dips.
But unconditional allegiance to a stagnant firm, or to a merely-adequately-performing employee, is not what we are about.
Succeeding in a high-performance culture is about being effective, not about working hard. Sustained “B” performance, despite an “A” for effort, gets let go. Sustained “A” performance, even with a modest level of effort, gets rewarded.
Of course, to be great, most of us have to put in considerable effort, but hard work is not how we measure contribution.
Some teams tolerate them, not us. The value of cost-effective teamwork is too high. Our view is that brilliant people are also capable of decent human interactions, and we insist upon that. When highly capable people work together in a collaborative context, they inspire each other to be more creative, more productive, and ultimately more successful as a team than they could be as a collection of individuals.
Some cultures allow for hyper-competitive work environments where, when one person or team succeeds, another fails. We’re not about that. The more talent we have, the more we can accomplish, so our people assist each other. Internal “cutthroat” or “sink or swim” behavior is not tolerated. We’re like a pro sports team, not a kid’s recreational team in many ways but one -> Athletic teams have a fixed number of positions, so team members are always competing with each other for one of the precious slots. At Vauld, we believe the more talent we have, the better our odds are at succeeding.
3. Freedom and Responsibility
We’re a company where everyone feels a sense of responsibility to do the right thing to help the company at every juncture. This means taking care of problems, small and large, as you see them, and never thinking “that’s not my job.” We create a sense of ownership, responsibility, and initiative so that this behavior comes naturally.
Our goal is to inspire people more than manage them. We trust our people to do what they think is best for Vauld — giving them lots of freedom, power, and information in support of their decisions. In turn, this generates a sense of responsibility and self-discipline that drives us to do great work that benefits the company.
We love people who are
- Acts like a leader
- Doesn’t wait to be told what to do
- Picks up the garbage lying on the floor
We believe that people thrive on being trusted, on freedom, and on being able to make a difference. So we foster freedom and empowerment wherever we can.
Instead of a culture of process adherence, we have a culture of creativity and self-discipline, freedom and responsibility.
We share documents internally broadly and systematically. Nearly every document is fully open for anyone to read and comment on, and everything is cross-linked. Documents on every strategy decision, on every competitor, and on every product, feature test are open for all employees to read.
You might think that such freedom would lead to chaos. But we also don’t have a clothing policy, yet no one has come to work naked. The lesson is you don’t need policies for everything. Most people understand the benefit of wearing clothes at work.
There are a few important exceptions to our anti-rules pro-freedom philosophy. We are strict about ethical issues and safety issues. Harassment of employees or trading on insider information is zero tolerance issues, for example. Some information security issues, such as keeping our members’ payment information safe, have strict controls around access. Transferring large amounts of cash from our company bank accounts has strict controls. But these are edge cases.
In general, freedom and rapid recovery are better than trying to prevent error. We are in an industry that is rapidly changing, and we have to stay on top to thrive in the long term. Our big threat over time is lack of innovation, so we should be relatively error-tolerant. Rapid recovery is possible if people have great judgment. The seduction is that error prevention just sounds so good, even if it is often ineffective. We are always on guard if too much error prevention hinders inventive, creative work.
Policy for expenses
Our policy is 8 words long: Act in Vaulds Best Interest
What this means:
- Expense only what you would otherwise not spend, and is worthwhile for work
- Travel as if it were your own money
- Take when it is only inefficient not to take and is inconsequential — “Example — printing personal docs and making personal calls using a work phone”
Here are the exceptions to the freedom rules (the only rules)
- Prevent irrevocable disaster — do all that you can to prevent people stealing from us.
- Moral, ethical, legal issues — Dishonesty, harassment are intolerable
4. Resonance with the vision/Deeply moved
by the problem we’re solving
We’re looking for people who have to understand the applications and implications of the bleeding edge of technology — and who get why we’ve set out to create Vauld.
We know we’re solving a significant problem — this has the potential to completely redefine the way people store and grow their money. We want this person to understand why transparency and honesty are the soul of the firm. We want people to know and believe why we’re doing things the way we have.
The difference between understanding and believing is the jump between people’s rationale and people’s emotions & rationale working in tandem. It’s the belief that we stand to potentially help billions of people significantly for the better that gets people to produce moments of brilliance.
The resonance of capability and conviction of the purpose of work is what defines people’s life’s work. We want everyone’s work at Vauld to be career-defining. We are striving to achieve just this.
Values + Responsibility + High Performance + Conviction of their work adding up to something extremely powerful
We might not be for everyone
Being in a high-performance culture is not right for everyone, and that is OK. Many people value job security very highly and would prefer to work at companies whose orientation is more about stability, seniority, and working around inconsistent employee effectiveness. Our model works best for people who highly value consistent excellence in their colleagues.
- We surround ourselves with stunning colleagues and give them big challenges
- We help each other grow
- We share information openly, broadly, and deliberately
- We facilitate an environment for responsible people to thrive
- We are comfortable breaking hard news and being honest with each other
- We want people to love what they do
And finally, while our teammates are fantastic, and we work together very well, we know we can always do better. We strive to have calm confidence, and yet yearn to improve. We suck compared to how great we want to become.
We want everyone to feel like Vauld is their company — and behave like that.