Fear Points Forward — Reflecting on half a year at Gordian Software

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From the get-go, Gordian Software has made a great impression on me, especially in the 5 following aspects:

  1. Our focus on profitability
  2. Our relentless agility
  3. Our star team
  4. Our ownership culture
  5. Our ability to do scary things

Money Talks, &#%?^@ Walks

Silicon Valley-styled software businesses have a reputation for spending a lot of money without necessarily making it back. So when Stephen showed me the up-to-date earnings and demonstrated that, in 5 years, Gordian Software was turning a profit—I was intrigued.

What’s even better about this is that Gordian Software has a profit-based bonus model for the Core Team. That means everyone is incentivized to do things effectively and efficiently, because there is a tangible benefit for each of us in building a robust, financially-sound business.

Now, Gordian Software is growing extremely fast, and we’re constantly reinvesting in the business and expanding the team while also increasing our highly profitable unit economics. In other words, there’s plenty of bootstrappy-ness in our DNA to make my pragmatic side feel at home here.

Move fast & make things

Before I joined, I was impressed with how quickly the team was willing to move in the interview process.

Stephen emailed me on the 7th of July about the opportunity. On the 15th of July, I joined my first Plan. In the interim week, we’d done a screening call and 2 very fun interviews.

The raw iteration speed of this process, which both sides pushed for, left the other companies I was talking to scrambling to keep up. This led me to believe—correctly—that this was a team that is serious about winning and has a realistic appreciation of the game they’re playing. We are, after all, in a seller’s market when it comes to engineering talent.

What’s more? That speed and agility in the hiring process translates to a team that focuses on outcomes, not outputs, separates signal from noise, and focuses on doing the right thing at the right tempo.

Star on the horizon

The bottom line when it comes to working here is that Gordian Software has a stellar team with a powerful collaborative culture.

From my first conversation with Stephen, to my subsequent interviews with Ory and Joe, through today, I have been thoroughly impressed with the communicative chemistry, the talent, and the curiosity on display in this team.

One of the most important factors in my decision to work here is that I genuinely liked the people I met in my interviews. I felt that our conversations were fun, insightful, and fluid. I’ve continued to experience these feelings, and otherwise the team at Gordian have exceeded my expectations of a friendly, serious workplace.

At the plasma-hot core of this star-team are (as of when I joined) Stephen, Joe, and Linda, who collectively bring together a profound knowledge of the travel industry, combined with a way of working together that is both killer-smart and down-to-earth.

Total ownage

Earlier, I alluded to the Ownership culture here. Ownership is the 3rd value in the trifecta of Freedom, Impact, and Ownership. This principle is on display every hour of every day. And because everyone leads through context, we are each able to focus on the end-to-end outcomes of our work.

This can be seen by observing the twice-weekly Plan; during optional morning sync-ups (a.k.a. “Mainlines”) where urgent, collaborative tasks are brought up by anyone on the team; and continuously throughout the day as we collaborate in our Slack workspace.

We do all this, and we keep generating wins while existing as a global team, working remotely 85% of the year (the other 15% happens in person, at our office in Bellevue, WA).

This all makes Gordian a very modern place to work.

The delicious trepidation of making an impact

One of the things Stephen and Joe told me in our final interview was that I could have an impact on the business in my first week, on my first day, even.

And that terrified me! Would this mean that I would be expected to make an impact so quickly? Worse—what if I succeeded? (I’d need to grow and improve rapidly to sustain that success!)

You see, Core Team members are given access to every system in the first week and turned loose to build and operate the business. And because our hiring system is well-tuned, our team keeps adding people with a desire to build a successful business and have fun doing it, which means questions get answered, things get done, and we keep improving day in and day out.

In my first week, I was able to get my hands dirty integrating a new payment-related service as well as improving our security measures, and my involvement, responsibility, and impact on our systems has only grown from there. No one has held me back from any work I wanted to try my hand at. All I’ve gotten from the team has been enthusiasm, insightful questions, and support.

Six months ago, in that final interview with Joe and Stephen, I boldly told them that the thought of making a big impact in my first week actually made me feel afraid.

In response, Joe asked me a question:

What is my response to this feeling of fear?

I answered:

Feeling afraid means I’m going in the right direction.”


Everything I’ve mentioned above leaves me feeling really lucky that I found what I did, when I did, in Gordian Software.

My first impressions of the team have all proven brilliantly true. Gordian is full of smart, energized, curious, and fun people to work with, and every hire after me has only made this more true.

If you’re looking for a workplace where you can attack gnarly problems with high autonomy, while surrounded by bright, enthusiastic folks who are incentivized to build the best business they can, consider working at Gordian Software.

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