Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs has been dissected, respected and even straight-up dismissed by psychologists, business gurus and high school students around the globe. But one thing I think we can all agree on: some textbook really burned it into the ol’ memory along the way. So that Pyramid sits, shelved in the back of my mind by some innate Dewey Decimal System.

Low and behold the other day Maslow came stumbling out from the stacks as I was thinking about the new internship program we’re planning at Dabble. How do I explain to these eager interns what it really takes to work in a startup? Beyond hard-work and an entrepreneurial spirit, who do you need to be to hack it in this unconventional atmosphere?

Then it hit me.

In order to work in a startup, you have to be totally cool with flipping that damn pyramid upside down. You’ve got to be a Self-Actualizer – in motivation AND mentality. Then worry about how you’ll get shrimp-flavored Ramen and toilet paper later.

3 Characteristics of a Self-Actualizer Vital for Today’s Startups:

1. Highly Creative. Ask yourself, do you prefer a coloring book or a canvas? To work in a startup, you’ll definitely need to be the canvas type. The type of person with the burning desire to create something from nothing. The type of person who gets a high from creative problem solving. And the type of person who is not only aware of new opportunities, but can creatively and spontaneously seize them.

2. Objective Outlook. This may seem like a hard juxtaposition to the first characteristic, but they cannot be mutually exclusive in an entrepreneur. In order to utilize creativity for innovation, you have to have your feet planted in the real world and it’s happenings. Your work at a startup should be solving a real world want or need in a new way.

3. Comfortable with Autonomy. Freedom, everybody wants it but only some people can thrive within it. The latter are startup folks. There’s no rule book, no four week company training when you join a startup. You’ll need to jump right in. Own your work and decisions. And keep in mind you’re a strong individual within a team.

The dream is for a startup to find employees and interns who not only think like a Self-Actualizer, but live and breathe it. People who don’t question turning Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs on its head. You’ve heard it a million times, the startup life isn’t for the faint of heart. So those who put their passion over comfort, please step forward. Dabble’s looking for interns.


To apply for a Dabble internship, find the track that most excites you & apply below!

Front End Development Internship —>

Business Management Internship —>

Social & Digital Media Internship —>

Kelsey is Many Projects Manager for Dabble. She lives in Chicago’s Bucktown Neighborhood and spends her weekends between Milwaukee and Chicago; enjoying amazing food, catching a live show, or documenting street art. She gave up corporate life 3 years ago, and never looked back.