The secret to sustainable growth:
Hiring a mindset, not a skill set

Tim Armand

Tim Armand President and co-founder

By Tim Armand
President and co-founder, Health Union
August 28, 2018

Think for a moment how a car simply can’t run without both gasoline and oil. You can’t really argue which one is more important because that doesn’t matter: without either, the car won’t go.

Everything in our business works like gas and oil in a car: because each individual understands that, no matter their role, what they do is crucial to our success.

When Olivier Chateau and I founded Health Union in 2010, we would often look to the future to imagine what the company would look like at 100 employees. Eight years ago, there wasn’t a clear understanding in the market of what a business like ours was or could accomplish.

Fast forward to today: Health Union now continuously cultivates 19 chronic-condition communities—most recently launching—with even more set to come in 2019 and beyond. We’ve grown to over 20 million annual visitors and to reach more than 10 million social media users monthly, with a team of 112 and quickly growing. We recently landed in the top 15 percent of the 2018 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America and continue to snag top spots on local lists of the best places to work in Philadelphia.

Reflecting on our achievements and humble beginnings, we stop to ask—what does it take for a business to maintain rapid, meaningful growth? The rise of awards, revenue, online communities—it’s all thanks to hiring talented people with the right “mindset,” not just a specific skill set. With the proper frame of mind, skill sets can be taught or trained, so no matter the role, we typically focus on determining if the talent is the right cultural fit.

What’s the secret sauce to fast and sustainable growth? Hiring the right people.

Many companies in the digital health space have begun to realize the potential impact of online communities. But, what cannot be overstated is that the community model, and what it can accomplish, is still in its infancy.

As a result, there is not an inherent talent pool or educational infrastructure for online community management. And, for a company growing at a rapid pace—13 new communities have launched since the beginning of 2016—hiring the right people who can embody and successfully implement Health Union’s model is a top priority.

Throughout the organization, our approach is to look for talent who expresses an ability to listen, empathize, understand, and adapt. With these traits, training on Health Union’s model and techniques is more intuitive and sets everyone up for success. The result has been a highly talented, diverse team with very low turnover. From lawyers to teachers, to academic researchers to social workers, the community development team is built with folks who care deeply about the people engaging in their respective communities.

Where specific skill sets are required, or experience is important (i.e. media sales, software development or marketing research), their qualifications are still secondary to expressing a passion for, and understanding the value and differentiation of our purpose. We have repeatedly seen that people who come to us, who are empathetic to our mission, excel. For example, if you’re in sales, we know you will sell better if you believe in what Health Union does, and you want to be a part of it. We want someone to want to work with us, even more than we want them to work here. If someone is driven by the good that we do, by the fact that we really help people with chronic conditions, they’ll be wholly invested in their role on the team.

The growth and accolades Health Union has achieved are directly linked to hiring philosophies and practices, a commitment to a culture that puts people first, and the hard work and dedication of every member of our team.