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Tally CEO asks every potential hire: ‘As a human, are you happy?’



tally jason brown
Tally cofounders Jason Brown and Jasper


  • Jason Brown, cofounder and CEO of personal-finance app Tally,
    asks every potential hire, “As a human, are you happy?”
  • It’s Brown’s way of finding out if the applicant is aligned
    with Tally’s mission and has personal motivations for wanting to
    work there.
  • Applicants who can pinpoint the things that drive their
    happiness tend to also have better reasons for wanting to work at
    the company, Brown said.

A company runs smoother when all of its employees are aligned
with its mission.

For Jason Brown, the cofounder and CEO of personal-finance app
Tally, that means
determining at the interview stage where a potential hire’s
priorities lie.

And Brown has a unusual way of finding that out. Whenever someone
for a job
at Tally, he makes sure he asks them if they’re

“One question I ask people is, ‘As a human, are you happy?'”
Brown told Business Insider.

The point of the question, Brown said, isn’t to assess an
applicant’s mental health or emotional state, but to see if they
can put into words the things that drive them. Someone who cites
a recent vacation or hanging out with friends, for example, is
less likely to get the job than someone who talks insightfully
about personal relationships and health.

“It really is very telling of people who understand what makes
them happy and who have self-awareness about deeper things
driving happiness, versus more shallow things,” he said.

“It’s not so much the answer,” he added, so much as it’s “a) have
you ever thought about this, and b) do you have at least some
foggy notion about the rough elements that matter to you?”


A startup founder who’s raised $10 million has a rule to weed out
job candidates who seem a little too good to be true

Founded in 2015, Tally helps users lower their credit-card debt
by consolidating their debt from multiple cards, paying off the
debt, and then charging them a lower interest rate. The San
Francisco-based company
raised $25 million in Series B funding
earlier this year, and
has grown from about 20 employees to 60 in 2018.

Inevitably, the Tally applicants who can pinpoint what makes them
happy are the ones who have more personal motivations for wanting
to work there. For example, some Tally employees had their own
struggles with credit-card debt, Brown said. 

Asking them about their happiness tends to make those motivations
more clear.

“At that point, I’m like, OK, cool, there’s somebody who really
does genuinely believe in making people less stressed and better
off financially,” Brown said.

Hiring people who believe in Tally’s mission is the “most
important thing” for the company, Brown said.

“If you have everybody on your team who has a personal, deeper
reason to be there, I think that’s where the next level of ideas
come out,” he told Business Insider. “Instead of them being done
at the end of the day, they’re thinking about, ‘how can we make
this better?'”

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