Why I Wanted to Hire A Turtle

by Jobbatical February 29, 2016


Within our first year of launching Jobbatical, it became clear to me that Southeast Asia is the hotspot region for us. The tech scene is blooming and international talent who could help to build global businesses is mostly welcomed. Not to mention that the combination of great food, more than enough sunshine and affordable lifestyle makes it an attractive destination for skilled jobbaticlers.

In order to better understand the market and work on the partnerships on the ground we decided to take our own “jobbatical” and moved most of our team from Europe and America to Malaysia. We have been co-living and co-working in a house in Petaling Jaya (a 20-minute drive from Kuala Lumpur) for almost two months now while traveling around Southeast Asia along the way to build stronger partnerships across the region.


Interestingly it is a little turtle from our fish pond that reminded me of the greatest virtue one should look for when building a team and why I believe that people who have stepped out of their comfort zone to work (or study) abroad make the most entrepreneurial employees. I will now share the story of why I would really like to hire this turtle.


To give a better understanding of the local setting, this is the house we live in and here in front of the house is a big pool which is home to some catfish, koi, carp and three turtles. Feeding them in the morning and evening is the favourite activity of my 3-year old daughter. The pond is steep and there are stairs around it which lead you to the other side of the house, where our swimming pool is located.

Six days ago, my colleagues discovered one of the turtles in the swimming pool on the other side of the house. Just to clarify, first of all it is visibly impossible for the turtle to even get out of the pond. If that is done through some miracle then she has to pass the stairs and then those little feet would have to walk all night to finally get to our swimming pool. But there she was and some force had brought her there (we initially suspected that maybe a really really big bird did it). The owner of the house guessed that the turtle probably wanted to lay her eggs in the pool. Anyway, we took her back home, away from the chemically treated water and thought that it was the end of an amusing story.


Until we discovered her in our swimming pool again for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th time — each of her migrations must been an all-nighter considering the length of the journey for those little feet.

To stop the turtle from going into the chlorinated water, the owner set up a net wall, hoping that it would convince her to go back home. But guess who was in the pool on the 6th day? Her inner strength and determination was able to conquer any obstacle on the way.

Whether she is planning to lay her eggs there or just wants to have some solo time, one thing is for sure: she lacks no stubbornness and discipline required to get there.

This is exactly the entrepreneurial mindset you want to have on your team. A team member who is not afraid to swim against the current nor oppose what is “normal”. Somebody who has risked everything by leaving their comfort zone to chase a dream in a new destination, learning to be humble on the way as that is how you cope in a new environment. Believe me, if a person has decided to move to the other side of the planet to join your team then they are positively as crazy as that turtle.

I am not sure if I can get our turtle to be as excited about Jobbatical as she is about our pool, but she certainly would fit in well. Almost 50% of our team have joined us through our own Jobbatical platform and come from various parts of the planet (operating very far from their comfort zones). This is an entrepreneurial bunch of people with whom I am confident we can change the world.

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