Years ago, I asked a friend who was working in a trendy Parisian restaurant if it was the good place to take my wife for her birthday.
Don’t go there, it’s terrible.
He was of a striking honesty and left him with lots to think about. If asked, would I recommend my own company to my best friend?
Even though our product may fit their needs, there’s no such thing like a disastrous experience involving money to ruin a long established friendship.
I thought about that a couple of times since then. I had many opportunities to hire good friends to sell them our product or services. It happened when I was working for a Web agency, at blueKiwi, and at Botify. Many times I had to balance my loyalty between my company and my friends.
It had an interesting outcome. I realized my work / life ethics was more balanced than I thought. When you join a new company, trying to please everyone is a common mistake, improving the overall sales or hire new people whatever the way an easy way to achieve it.
I started to ask myself many questions. Was our product good enough to be sold to my mum? Did I really want my best friends to mess with our salespeople? Did I really want my wife to experiment our support, then complain about me all day? Was the pricing fair and adapted to the needs we wanted to fulfill?
Answering to these questions led to 2 unexpected things. I became a better, more loyal friend, and the quality of what I was delivering improved drastically.
Answering these questions went far beyond the « will we still be friends after that? » question. They dealt with my core values and what (who) I really am.
I remember the first time I refused to recommend my company to someone I know. It was an easy sell, but both the product and customer experience were terrible. To be honest, the whole company was terrible and the only way to fix it was to replace everybody – including me – and rewrite the product from scratch.
I realized the company did not fit my core values. I liked lots of my coworkers, but I didn’t belong to this place. I was working for a company I despised and refused to identify myself up to the point I stopped mentioning where I was working at when asked.
I think I would have been more comfortable admitting I was working for an animal porn company than telling the truth to people who had experienced us.
I didn’t leave immediately though. I have kids to feed, and starting over was leaving a very comfortable familiar zone. There are lots of reason why you keep working at a place you don’t like: comfort zone, job scarcity, lack of time. But in the end, it’s about defining who you are.