How does startup culture compare to corporate? (with Samantha Ku)

Have you ever wondered what it's like to leave a stable corporate job for work at a tech startup? Well in this episode, Samantha Ku is here to talk about her experience in banking compared to her current role at Square, a FinTech startup

So aside from the wardrobe – i.e. hoodies vs. suits – what are the deeper differences between working for a corporation compared to a startup?

What you'll learn
  • Why did Samantha choose to leave her stable job in banking for a role at Square, a tech startup?
  • What are some of the key differences Samantha has noticed between corporate culture and startup culture?
  • How do philosophies and diversity and inclusion vary between the workplaces?
  • Who would do well in a startup environment?
  • How did Samantha's immigrant parents react to her decision to join a startup?
  • Why did the startup environment end up being a more natural fit for Samantha?


This week's guest

Samantha Ku

Samantha Ku is the Head of Operations for Square Capital, the lending arm of Square Inc. Although Square started with a simple white credit card reader, today they help sellers of all sizes start, run, and grow their businesses. After starting her career in banking, Samantha transitioned to Square in 2015 and built their operations team from the ground up.

She currently leads a team of over 30 employees across three offices in San Francisco, New York, and Henderson, and alongside her team, Samantha is responsible for operational strategies for loan life cycle across all products, including underwriting, servicing, and collections.  

Try It Out Challenge

Talk to your inner critic

The goal is to write out a conversation with your inner critic – that little voice in your head – so that you can better understand where your stress or emotions are coming from.Your inner critic is usually a combination of everything you've learned from loved ones and experiences, so it's well intentioned, but sometimes not so self-serving.

So instead of trying to quiet that voice, here's what you'll do. Put all electronics away so you can really focus, and take out a notebook or an piece of paper. You'll start by writing your side of the conversation with your dominant hand, and then you'll switch to your non-dominant hand to write your inner critic's response. 

Why the switch? The shift to your non-dominant hand makes writing much more challenging, so as you channel your tough inner critic, you'll have to work a little harder physically to get that voice down on paper. It makes the exercise a little more intentional. Plus, the shift from one hand to the other helps signal that it isn't really your voice talking; it's the inner critic, and it's worth noting what that critic is saying to you in case it's hurting more than it's helping.

Let us know how your “Try It Out Challenge” went by sharing your experience on Instagram.

Episode references

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