Committed to Personal Growth
We empower all teammates with bi-monthly executive coaching and by co-creating individual, measurable goals.
HumanFirst is advancing remote patient monitoring by enabling the safe and effective use of connected biosensors at home. We believe that people and culture are the foundation to building a world-class product. Our team develops one another’s talents through apprenticeship and mentoring.
We commit to each and every one of our team member’s personal growth, and this extends beyond traditional professional development. For example, we have an executive coach on retainer for full-time teammates who would like bi-monthly coaching (or they can also choose to work with their own executive coach). We also have 360 performance reviews every 6 weeks (ask us why!), book club, stipends for conferences and/or training, home office setup reimbursement, and the list continues to grow!
Each quarter, our teammates build individual objectives and measurable goals (OMGs) – which other orgs sometimes call ‘OKRs’ – that align with both professional and personal values. On the professional side, each teammate works with their group to build out their own goals and KPIs (e.g., engineering, product, operations, research team) for the quarter. We also support teammates to build personal OMGs, and we regularly check in with teammates during their 1:1s, which they set with their team leads or CEO every week. (Want more examples? We are inspired by the Measure What Matters framework.)
Although our teammates live across the globe, we come together regularly. This has of course shifted during COVID-19, though we plan to continue this tradition when it’s safe to do so.
One of our core values at HumanFirst is ‘obligation to speak up.’
Effective larger organizations often focus on the value of ‘obligation to dissent,’ where any member of the team, regardless of rank, is obligated to oppose a prevailing decision if s/he disagrees with it. However, in smaller growing organizations like ours, where there are many unknowns, it’s critical not only to find flaws, but also to build. Therefore, rather than ‘obligation to dissent,’ we find effective team members encourage others to ‘speak up.’
At HumanFirst, listening to all voices and perspectives – particularly when conflicting – is more important to us than achieving a harmonious decision where everyone believes the same thing. For instance, there is often healthy tension between how secure a product is and how convenient (or not) it is to use. Our team encourages opposing viewpoints and often runs test scenarios so we learn where to ‘draw the line’ when decisions are grey. We are committed to leaning into difficult conversations.
Our team at HumanFirst is both mission-driven and metrics-driven. We expect our teammates to speak up internally as well as in external settings with our customers. No one is “too junior” to share their point of view.
Our team at the DEF CON. We’re deeply involved with the Biohacking Village, and we were a founding member of the FDA-led WeHeartHackers.org.
Customer Comes First
We strive to put individuals in the driver's seat to live our value of ‘human first.’
Technology has always moved faster than our ability to safeguard ourselves from its consequences, and this is especially true when it comes to connected health products. That’s why we view it as our responsibility to ensure people have access to safe, secure, ethical, and effective remote monitoring products to use at home.
With our work, we strive to reduce human suffering over the long-haul. This applies to both the customers who use our products and the teammates who build them. Most recently, we’ve actualized this value by releasing our platform free of charge for those on the front lines of COVID-19 (read more in TechCrunch).
We collaborate with patients, security researchers at DEF CON (we were one of the founding supporters of WeHeartHackers.org), and regulatory agencies such as the FDA (our CEO served in the FDA’s digital health unit!) to ensure that we are building trustworthy products.
Our team brings together stakeholders from across the industry, from security researchers to regulators at the FDA, and beyond.
An entrepreneurial spirit is required to join the HumanFirst team.
We look for individuals who have an entrepreneurial spirit and not only feel comfortable with a wide breadth of responsibility and autonomy, but also need it. To empower each person on our team, we use asynchronous tools like Notion and Google Docs to ensure that you have the necessary context and support to run with your ideas/project, regardless of your timezone.
We are committed to a hypothesis-driven approach at HumanFirst. For instance:
- When faced with a problem, we ask everyone to state their hypotheses and assumptions explicitly. For example, “The story I am telling myself is that when our customer asked for X they really want Y, and so I think we should run the following test to see if that assumption is correct.” That person will then prototype a solution to test with the rest of the team.
- During your first week at HumanFirst, you’ll draft your ‘user guide,’ outlining how you best collaborate with teammates – check out our CEO’s ‘user guide.’
Wears Many Hats
We believe in leaving your ego at the door.
Part of joining any early-stage startup is getting to wear many hats. At HumanFirst, we firmly and proudly believe in leaving ego at the door and helping out wherever and whenever you can. Teammates regularly step-up to take on roles beyond their job descriptions when needed.
For instance, in 2020, we unveiled The Playbook, an open-science effort along with Genentech, Myokardia, Sage Bionetworks, the Digital Medicine Society (DiMe), Scripps Research Institute, and more, to deploy safe and effective digital clinical measures at home. This was a cross-team effort involving engineering, product, design, and our research team. We have published over 12 research papers in top-peer reviewed journals, and we prioritize open-access journals so anyone can access our research. Some of our engineering and product teammates have participated in these research publications.
One of our core values is ‘every moment counts,’ and this value is our reminder to stay in the present, and to recognize that with a human’s life and death, every moment matters. We act swiftly and intentionally – speed is a habit. As a growing organization, we look for teammates who are willing to roll up their sleeves when an opportunity arises that may not fit into anyone’s job description. That could mean stepping into product roles or redesigning our work trial for the recruiting process. Our entrepreneurial colleagues ensure that we are a high-performing team that’s consistently upgrading our processes to best serve patients.
Learn more about our open-access ‘The Playbook’ in Forbes. Sign up for a Masterclass on playbook.dimesociety.org.
High Quality Code Base
Code should be an enjoyable place to spend most of your day.
As an engineer at HumanFirst, you will spend most of your time writing and interacting with code. Because of this, we spend a lot of time making the code an enjoyable place to be. We understand that a code base is more than the raw bytes that do the work; we place a strong emphasis on documentation, testing, readability, tooling, and extensibility. We have a full set of unit, integration, and end-to-end tests that give us an average of 90% coverage, with some projects reaching 100%. Our APIs have fully interactive documentation (from endpoints to parameters to responses) and our frontend components are documented both in their appearance and behavior using Storybook.
Additionally, we regularly examine pain points and work toward refactoring for better usability. We keep an account of any tech debt we acquire, and make sure to allocate regular time to pay it off. Our ultimate goal is to make sure the structures we have in place help, rather than hinder, both you as an engineer and our ability to serve our customers’ needs.
We release several times a day, and you can have code live on the site in as little as 20 minutes.
We believe that speed is one of the attributes that sets an organization apart, and we strive to support our engineers in moving as fast as possible. We place a heavy emphasis on automated tooling so we can write quality code and have it live in production without worrying about lingering issues. Our tests and live deployment previews are automatically run and built on every push. This avoids the need to run all tests locally and saves you precious time on your local machine. Our CodeBuild pipeline verifies and builds your changes while Lerna enables you to deploy after your tests have passed.
We value not only code quality, but also speed. Tasks should take two hours, two days, or two weeks (and it’s never two weeks). This speed helps us remain nimble and fix previous issues quickly, so they don’t fester.
We believe in shorter, more focused days.
We hold ourselves to high standards and consider ourselves to be hard workers. All of our teammates have read Deep Work by Cal Newport. We’re big fans of his methodology and the idea that distraction-free concentration allows you to best maximize your cognitive capabilities. We bring these practices into our work life and have established two meeting-free days a week. Wednesdays and Fridays are our ‘Maker Days,’ and we work to keep all other meetings as efficient as possible. This means defining agendas, setting outcome expectations, and having clear, actionable items (with a default meeting length of less than 45 minutes).
Our daily standups are asynchronous (we use Geekbot!) and can vary depending on the team. Since every moment counts, we want all team members to be able to shape their schedules to suit their individual needs, and create work-life balance. For instance, some of our teammates shift their standard hours so they are available at home when their kids are awake, and then re-join our team after their kids go to sleep.
We’ve found this system means teammates work shorter, more focused days than at other start-ups and we produce higher-quality, more fulfilling work.
Source: Michael Karnjanaprakorn. We pull many of our philosophies from Cal Newport’s Deep Work mindset.