This question originally appeared on Quora: What are some red flags that signal you should walk away from a start-up job?
There are hundreds of red flags that should stop you from joining a startup.
Rule 1: Never trust your gut when deciding to do something (like join a startup or get married)--make decisions to affirmatively do something with strict data analysis. But always trust your gut when it tells you not to do something. If your gut tells you to not work at a particular company (or to stop dating someone), trust it implicitly, because your gut is much better at saving your life than it is at figuring out upside opportunities. Essentially, your gut is very good at making sure you don't get eaten by lions.
Don't get eaten by a lion, shark, or any other predator.
Rule 2: Assuming you have options, make sure you know what you are optimizing for when you are joining a company. When you get competing job offers, you need some heuristic on how you will choose. Are you optimizing for growth? For fame? For money? For power? For making the world a better place? For learning? For stability? Understand your end goals so you can develop a function to choose what the upside is.
Rule 3: Figure out what are your no-go points are and make sure you find them out for each company you are talking with (by extensive due diligence and questioning).
For instance, you might hate working in a culture of people who yell at each other. That might rule you out of over 50 percent of the high-performance companies. So it is good to know about yourself. You might hate organizations that micro-management people. Or you might hate orgs that have no management. You might hate new management structures like holacracy. Someone mentioned he would hate working for an introverted CEO--of course that means he would hate working for Mark Zuckerberg or Barack Obama--but it is good he knows that about himself.
Remember that a red flag for your success in an organization could be a huge positive for someone else. As they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure. So make sure you understand yourself and figure out what type of culture you will thrive in, what you can tolerate, and what you definitely cannot endure.
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