Suspicious Companies


A few years ago I interviewed for a company called “something-Bet”. They were engaged in gaming bets. The guys were surprisingly nice. Perhaps that’s why during the interview they asked: “is it okay for you that we deal with bets?” I said that it was okay, but I really only thought about it when the interview ended. I refused them.

At this time I thought that there were “white” companies and “gray” ones. Grays come in different intensities of black, from advertising and bets to complete blackness. White companies do stuff like teaching or treating people. From the courses for CEOs, I concluded that generally “white“ companies should be treated very carefully and, just like people, judged not by their appearance, but by their intelligence. Moreover, their intelligence can be tested from unexpected angles.

To illustrate, the CEO-teacher told an interesting example. A person has a large and profitable business in waste removal and recycling. He doesn’t really want to meet people and say “nice to meet you, I deal with garbage,” so he buys a private school. Now, at a party of billionaires, he can introduce himself as “I’m a very modest person, I’m involved in educating the younger generation.”

Since he is a busy person, school issues take up about 1% of his time. It’s strange to talk about some kind of school development when the owner has no time for it. Therefore, the school does not live, but survives. Stars are not falling from the sky, equipment and materials are aging, employee turnover is 30% per year. At the same time, the school brand can be very cool.

Matlas, Dagestan. Nice place both in terms of nature and people.

There are a lot of these around the world (private schools, hospitals, museums, galleries, cinemas, restaurants, factories, and so on). It may turn out that we are dealing with a company “for show” in a generally “white” area. Or on the contrary, it happens that people destroy stereotypes and make beautiful things in the gray area. If they desire it.

Therefore, when choosing a place of work, the first thing you need to look at is the name and financial indicators, if this information is public. Different indicators are considered the norm for different sectors of the economy; there are many good guides for assessing indicators.

Then it makes sense to break through its owners (shareholders, directors, founders). What do they mainly do; what do they have besides this company; how kind and smart things do they say. Their attitude towards ideas, things and people will shine through in everything in this company. For example, if you look at Google, at best 10% of the company is owned by those who would like to see Google do good things. That’s why Google is what it is.

If there is no information on the owners, then you can move on to the most unreliable (due to subjectivity) information - employee reviews about this company.

By analyzing companies in this order (financial indicators → owners → employee reviews) you can save a lot of time and nerves without getting involved in interviews. Well, if you get to interviews, the most important thing is to evaluate the potential leader, and not the company or project. But about this some other time, for now let’s continue about the lessons from the courses for CEOs.

  1. Quality Courses
  2. Suspicious Companies
  3. CEO Tasks
  4. Manager Mindset
  5. Engineering Strategy