How Warby Parker Thrives On Brutal Honesty

How Warby Parker Thrives On Brutal Honesty

VIVIAN GIANG NOV. 1, 2013, 4:02 PM 1,880

Not wanting to be another failed partnership, the founders of eyewear company Warby Parker, who were former classmates at Wharton, decided early on that they would be able to criticize each other openly, honestly, and harshly, if needed. How would they do this without building resentment between one another? In an interview with Adam Bryant at The New York Times, co-founder Neil Blumenthal says that every month the four founders return to the bar where they originally came up with the idea, and one of them is placed in the hot seat. According to Blumenthal, during these “360 reviews,” a partner might say, “When you shoot me a 10-page email at 2 in the morning, I want to punch you in the face.” “That set the tone for the culture at Warby Parker, which would really be rooted in open and honest feedback,” says Blumenthal.This culture of communication isn’t reserved only for the founders. The entire Warby Parker staff is given a 360 review every quarter. Although this takes up a lot of time, Blumenthal says “as a manager, it’s your highest priority to be developing your people.” And employees should never be surprised by how they’re doing work-wise, he says.

Employees are also asked to share their happiness rating on a scale of zero to 10 with their managers every week. This helps managers know what’s going on with their direct reports and identify trends that appear.

The founders also have interesting methods for getting to know who’s working for them. In an interview with Quartz, co-founder David Gilboa says that they ask unexpected interview questions in order to reveal a candidate’s personality. For example, asking someone “what was the last costume you wore,” gives a glimpse into a candidate’s thought process on a day when they can be whoever they want.

“We find that people who are able to make the job environment fun build followership more easily,” says Gilboa.”If we hire the most technically skilled person in the world whose work style doesn’t fit here, they won’t be successful.”

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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