Where misfits fit

Everyone has their own reasons for being here at Jonar. We’re all driven and motivated by different things. Some of us want to have an impact. Some of us want to try new things. But all of us share something more fundamental – the need to belong.

I've never really belonged.

I am what some people would call a “third-culture kid.” I grew up traveling the world, moving from country to country, being exposed to a plethora of cultures, beliefs, and ways of living. And while experiencing this beautiful diversity was a blessing, it was also, inextricably, a curse.

Now, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for the privilege of travel. It’s been an incredibly enriching experience that I desperately wish more people could enjoy.

But living a life of constant change and being exposed to so many different cultures and places meant that I simultaneously belonged to everywhere and to nowhere. As a temporary player in everyone else’s permanent existence, I’ve never truly fit.

Until I started working at Jonar.

But this isn’t my story. It is a reflection on some of the things I’ve learned and observations I’ve made about working in a pretty unique workplace.

Everyone has their own reasons for being here at Jonar. We’re all driven and motivated by different things. Some of us want to have an impact. Some of us want to try new things. But all of us share something more fundamental – the need to belong.

See, as social beings, we all have this fundamental desire to fit into a group, to feel accepted, and to feel valued. And while I can only really speak for myself, it seems as though I’m not the only misfit who has found their place here.

Everyone at Jonar is a misfit in some way. Their own way. And while every one of us is driven by different things, we show up every day because somehow, this group feels right. And one way or another, (almost like magic) this bunch of weird and quirky and smart and inspiring misfits that make up the Jonar team just seem to fit.

I don’t know exactly why. I’m still learning and figuring it out. But I wanted to share what I’ve pieced together so far…

We take hiring very seriously.

We hire for fit. For some companies, “fit” means hiring people who have the right education, credentials, and experience. At Jonar “fit” means none of that. Everyone is a little bit different and we recognize that.

Everybody has their own story that no simple list of qualifications or experiences can describe. We’re interested in who they are, what they’re interested in, what drives them, and what motivates them. We’re interested in people who have stories to tell, who have opinions about the way things should work, and who care about what they do.

So, we don’t hire resumes. We hire people.

We share a common set of values.

As a group, we share a set of values that influence (but do not determine) our behavior and how we interpret the meaning of everyone else’s behavior.

Our values don’t dictate how we’re meant to live or what we’re meant to do. They’re not meant to handcuff us or hold us back. They’re what keeps us going day-by-day. They’re our inspiration.

Sharing a core set of values means that we all start off on the same playing field. While everyone shares the underlying characteristics that make up our culture and believes in our values, we all express and embody them differently. And that’s where things get really fun because everyone lives out our values in different ways, so what seems like homogeneity on the surface is actually diversity.

Sharing a set of values also enables us to accept and embrace everyone’s quirks, while bringing us together and aligning us towards the same overall goal.

Everyone genuinely cares.

We care about each other.

Everyone’s got your back. When you’re pushed to step outside of your comfort zone, to tackle difficult problems and stretch yourself, you do so knowing there’s a support system to catch you when you fall.

It’s like everyone is rooting for you because they genuinely want to share in your success and see you grow both personally and professionally. They celebrate your successes and point out your failures, because honest and sincere feedback is less hurtful than lies and pleasantries.

We also care about what we do.

While everyone doesn’t necessarily share the same passions, everybody has their own “thing” that gets them really excited. It drives them.

And it drives others. Because when you see someone who is so committed and inspired in the work they do, it has a spill-over effect and inspires those around them.

We’re all part of something bigger than ourselves.

Above all, one of the most deeply impactful aspects of fitting in at Jonar is based on humility. Each and every one of us wants to achieve great things. But we know we can’t do it alone. So, we all operate from the same basic principle that as individuals we have limits, but as a group, great things are possible.

And that’s when great things start to happen.

In fact, great things are happening at Jonar.

There is a chance I could be wildly wrong about all of this. I am, after all, still learning. I may not have that much life experience under my belt (or work experience for that matter) to make sense of how exactly our group of misfits fit.

I’m still discovering myself – who I am, what my interests are, and how I fit into the group. And, I’m still learning how to navigate this weird and wonderful thing we call the working world. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned so far, it’s that there’s something special about this place. I still can’t quite put my finger on it, but I’ll let you know when I’ve really got it figured out.

Tamaryn de Kock