How to Attract Star Employees Who’ll Work Full-Tilt Together

Want a window into a preferred way of life(style) at work?

When a hot start-up in San Francisco seeks talented workers who have many choices about where to work - what does it offer? Call it the google effect. Grockit can’t provide the on-site laundry services, 14 restaurants (and much more) of google. Yet, today it landed 8 million more in funding and can offer:

• Cheap desks, expensive chairs.

• 30 inch monitors, top of the line Mac Pros and ergonomic keyboards.

• A powerful software development tracking tool to manage work throughout the organization from engineering to operations to academics.

• Benefits (health, dental, vision):
Every month we put cash into a HSA for employees. You never lose your HSA money, it sits in a bank account you can access, and you can use the HSA Bank Card to pay for preventative medical care or to cover the cost of deductibles.

• Tasty breakfasts and lunches that are nutrient dense and all most entirely organic.

• Water is filtered through a 10-stage filter.

• For cleaning, we only use non-toxic supplies.

• We recycle and compost far more than we trash, use high efficiency lighting, and purchase our food from local businesses and farms.

Considering that mix of benefits, it’s not surprising this start-up, Grockit is “developing an online learning game where people can teach each other.”

Our learning take-aways - from these benefits - for recruiting star employees:

• How many companies offer a mix of benefits that closely match the profile of employees they most need?

• How many firms describe their benefits in language that reflects the career and sense-of-community interests of their kind of sought-after worker?

• How often do you see benefits written so briefly, in such vivid, specific detail?

Tip: The specific detail proves the general promise. Generalizations are less credible or memorable.

Look for the launch of their game this Fall. GrockIt's approach is radical. While some of their language attacks traditional education, the first step may be more narrow: help in prepping for educational tests. Co-founder, Farbood Nivi, said last year, "We are trying to turn the global education market on its head. We want students to teach each other rather than going to teachers. The knowledge is inherent within the system. Today’s market is about conformity, order and obedience. Then the teacher will gift you with the knowledge. We’re trying to facilitate student interaction and totally circumvent the master-slave dynamic."

Nivi wrote of his massive plans at LinkedIn, "We aim to utilize the awesome power of the internet to help the world learn. Our first step is leveraging the web to provide live online GMAT test prep classes to anyone with a PC and an Internet connection ... We are currrently developing a P2P Learning Game that will help students from around the world teach each other ... We are also expanding to include LSAT, ACT, SAT, GRE test prep in Q3 of 2007."

Speaking again of the power of specificity and brevity, Navi wrote: Grockit is founded on a few principles.
1. Learning should be low cost and high quality.
2. Learning should benefit the student, the teacher, and society.
3. Learning should be engaging, and interactive.

Grok has been one of my favorite concepts since childhood. Here’s two of my favorite quotes from Grockit.

• Grockit is a play on the word 'grok', which was coined by Robert Heinlein in his novel Stranger in a Strange Land. Grok means to understand something so well that it becomes a part of you. We created the word Grockit to mean understanding something so well that you can teach it to others. (They practice what they preach, working and learning in pairs.)

• Learning 2.0 is a re-emphasis on learning as opposed to education. Education is an institution while learning is what people do. The 2.o also means that technology, namely the distributed web, is going to help us do that.

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