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Episode 1: Our radical take that work should be a good thing

Many of the con­cepts we have about work assume that it is a nec­es­sary evil. Work is bad and life is good, and there­fore we should aim for min­i­mal time spent work­ing and max­i­mal time at leisure. This is the assump­tion embed­ded in the ​“work-life bal­ance” model.

In this first episode of How Peo­ple Work, Fringe co-founders Jor­dan Peace and Jason Mur­ray chal­lenge this way of thinking.

They explore the his­to­ry of how peo­ple have thought about work, what we stand to gain if we view it as inher­ent­ly good, and how this mind­set led them to start Fringe.

Key ideas and highlights

“Work should be a good thing. This notion of how we work as humans, but also how we apply our­selves to work, is some­thing that ought to be inves­ti­gat­ed and talked about. And it’s rel­e­vant to what we’re doing here with Fringe because we’re try­ing to very much build a com­pa­ny in which peo­ple can feel that they do good work and that the work is good for them and good for their lives and their fam­i­lies.” — Jason Murray
  • Before, peo­ple viewed work as a trans­ac­tion­al rela­tion­ship between employ­er and employ­ee. In exchange for labor, employ­ees received wages.
  • Now, employ­ees expect to find mean­ing, pur­pose, and belong­ing at work.
  • This tran­si­tion was fueled by the expan­sion of ben­e­fits that extend beyond the quid pro quo arrange­ment of the past — health insur­ance added in the 1940s, 401(k)s in the ​‘70s, and more recent perks like remote work in the 2020s.
  • The prob­lem with the cur­rent ben­e­fits land­scape is that almost all ben­e­fits are future-ori­ent­ed. You reap their reward lat­er on, espe­cial­ly when you’re sick, dead, or retired.
  • The next devel­op­ment in the evo­lu­tion: ben­e­fits that meet the every­day needs of employ­ees, such as child care, men­tal health sup­port, stu­dent loan repay­ment, or even food delivery.
  • Employ­ers that offer ben­e­fits that their employ­ees can use in their dai­ly life are best posi­tioned to dri­ve recruit­ing and reten­tion efforts.

Now avail­able on: Apple Pod­casts | Spo­ti­fy | YouTube

Learn more about how you can meet the every­day needs of your employ­ees with Fringe


  • 0:00 Intro
  • 4:53 Our rad­i­cal take that should be a good thing
  • 5:54 Why rela­tion­ships can make it or break it
  • 7:24 Ori­gin sto­ries of Fringe
  • 10:41 If peo­ple like you and your vision, they’ll write you a check
  • 14:41 Why employ­ees don’t feel care and appreciation
  • 15:40 Ben­e­fit offer­ings are ridicu­lous­ly outdated
  • 18:00 These ben­e­fits might be a waste of money
  • 19:06 Where the name ​“Fringe” came from
  • 24:27 The tides of employ­ee care are begin­ning to change.
  • 26:07 Fish out of water — what are we doing here?!
  • 34:55 Yes, there is a best way to care for employees
  • 35:42 Explain­ing Fringe in 38 seconds
  • 36:25 Expe­ri­ences lead to more hap­pi­ness, not things
  • 37:18 Ame­lio­rate. Wait…what?


Jor­dan Peace (00:05):

How many hours and years of our lives do we spend on work? For near­ly all of us, we spend 30 plus years and one third of our days in our voca­tion, more time per­haps than we spend at rest or at play. But this isn’t a prob­lem. Why? Because work is good. Work needs to be inte­grat­ed deeply into our lives and must be in line with our most impor­tant goals and val­ues. And if it is, we have a far more com­plete and ful­fill­ing life expe­ri­ence. Wel­come to How Peo­ple Work pod­cast, where we explore the inter­sec­tion of how humans think and act and how they apply them­selves to their work. When you under­stand both of these things, you’ll be equipped to be insight­ful, com­pas­sion­ate, and com­pelling lead­ers. This is how peo­ple work with your host, Jason Mur­ray. I’m Jor­dan Peace. I’ll call myself a co-host spe­cial guest, what­ev­er the sit­u­a­tion calls for.

Jason Mur­ray (01:01):

Every­day. Spe­cial guest.

Jor­dan Peace (01:02):

Yeah, every­day spe­cial guest. If you’ve lis­tened to Brag­wor­thy Cul­ture and you’re won­der­ing how the heck you got here and who this per­son is, once again, Jason Mur­ray, Brag­wor­thy Cul­ture has been con­tin­ued on and evolved into this new pod­cast, new for­mat, new locale. I’m no longer in my stu­dio, which is the bed­room clos­et in my home, but now in an actu­al beau­ti­ful space. Amaz­ing with pro­fes­sion­al equip­ment and it’s a lot of fun. But this is our first episode of How Peo­ple Work. And that expres­sion, how peo­ple work, is pur­pose­ful­ly obscure. It has two mean­ings. We are going to talk about how human beings work in terms of how human beings func­tion and think, go about life, how they work, and then also how they work, how go about their labor, how they do work, get to the office, not get to the office, have cowork­ers, have boss­es, do their career.


And so we’re going to talk about both things, kind of the psy­cho­log­i­cal, soci­o­log­i­cal aspect of human beings; and then also just the cul­ture around work and how that’s evolved over the course of time. How we see evolv­ing in the future. This should be a lot of fun. And we will have guests occa­sion­al­ly, not every week like we did in the old for­mat. But want­ed to share today a lit­tle bit about Jason’s and my com­pa­ny, Fringe. We also have three oth­er co-founders who, not to leave them out at all, but they’re not with us today on the pod­cast. So Jason’s going to guide us through the con­ver­sa­tion a lit­tle bit more. But we’re going to be talk­ing about Fringe, why we start­ed it, and also why we start­ed this pod­cast, which is very much related,

Jason Mur­ray (02:47):

Very, very much relat­ed. So yeah, we’re glad that you’re join­ing us and excit­ed to start some of these con­ver­sa­tions. And so since we are in this first episode in tran­si­tion­ing from what we were doing before, I would love to talk a lit­tle bit about what you hope peo­ple will get out of this. Who is this for? What are these con­ver­sa­tions going to do for peo­ple that might be listening?

Jor­dan Peace (03:10):

Yeah, I mean, hon­est­ly, I think for you and me, it’s all about authen­tic­i­ty. It’s all about hav­ing a place where we can say the real stuff about what it’s like to have a career in our case in tech, in this sort of ven­ture backed zoo that we live in. But also just in any kind of career, what it’s like to have cowork­ers and to have a boss and to go through a reces­sion and be fear­ful for your job, and not know how things are going at the top, and what your boss might be think­ing, and what his or her boss might be think­ing. And just have a real con­ver­sa­tion about some of that stuff. I hope that our lis­ten­er­ship turns out to be any­body from a CEO to some­body who’s aspir­ing to start their own com­pa­ny, or that just walked in the door to a new com­pa­ny in their first job out of college.


And it’s like, what is this sub­cul­ture of work? I don’t under­stand what’s hap­pen­ing here. This is not every­day life. I’m con­fused. And just have a real hon­est con­ver­sa­tion about what’s hap­pen­ing in the work­place, what’s com­ing down the track, or what we per­ceive to be com­ing down the track and why I think things are chang­ing, why gen­er­a­tions are shift­ing in the work­place, kind of the pow­er dynam­ic through gen­er­a­tions are shift­ing and there­fore the work­place is just utter­ly chang­ing which is kind of uncom­fort­able for sev­er­al gen­er­a­tions. Not ful­ly com­fort­able for any­one yet as we’re set­tling into the new nor­mal with remote work and oth­er things. So just excit­ed to get into that top­ic and just be able to share our per­spec­tive with the world.

Jason Mur­ray (04:53):

Yeah, well, and I add to that, I hope peo­ple who are not just HR folks and peo­ple lead­ers, but lead­ers of peo­ple or just real­ly any­one who’s in a posi­tion to influ­ence those around them can find val­ue in these things that we’re going to be talk­ing about. And I think too, there’s some­thing I’ve been think­ing about that, I don’t know if I shared it with you explic­it­ly, but just this idea that work should be a good thing. And so this whole notion of how we work as humans, but how we apply our­selves to work, I feel like is some­thing that ought to be inves­ti­gat­ed and talked about. And I think that’s rel­e­vant to us and our sto­ry and what we’re doing here with Fringe, because we’re try­ing to very much build a com­pa­ny in which peo­ple can feel that they do good work and that the work is good for them and good for their lives and their fam­i­ly. And I think that’s not true in the expe­ri­ence of many peo­ple we’ve inter­act­ed with over the years as well.

Jor­dan Peace (05:54):

Yeah, I think that’s in a sad way, real­ly aid­ed us in recruit­ing some real­ly fan­tas­tic peo­ple because they’ve had a real­ly poor expe­ri­ence in work. And it almost nev­er has to do with the work itself. It has to do with the rela­tion­ships at work or the lack of rela­tion­ships at work, or just not feel­ing seen, heard, or dig­ni­fied as human beings. So talk a lot about that top­ic cause we’re both very pas­sion­ate about putting peo­ple first and that peo­ple mat­ter. And that even though some­body might come into your com­pa­ny and it does­n’t work out per­fect­ly and they don’t fit the job, we thought that per­son, that human being should be giv­en respect and dig­ni­ty and hon­or whether they stay or go. So y’all are going to hear a lot about that as you lis­ten to this pod­cast. We’re very pas­sion­ate about that top­ic. But like we said, let’s not stray too far from the top­ic at hand today, which is Fringe which is actu­al­ly real­ly kind of dif­fer­ent for me.


I went through all of Brag­wor­thy Cul­ture, I don’t know how many dozens of episodes, and did­n’t even men­tion Fringe out­side of the intro and the out­ro of being spon­sored by Fringe because that pod­cast was about those that I was inter­view­ing and brag­ging on their cul­ture. And so I’m like, okay, I get to talk about my start­up now. That’s cool. I’m very excit­ed to do that. And so we want to tell the ori­gin sto­ry a lit­tle bit here. So Jason and I go back quite a long time. I think we met some­where in the range of 2013, I want to say might have been the year that we first met. Jason actu­al­ly inter­viewed me for a job. That’s how we got to know each oth­er ini­tial­ly and real­ized that we had quite a bit in com­mon, both from a stand­point of just where we were at from a fam­i­ly stand­point and where we were at from our pre­vi­ous career going into that posi­tion, which was in finan­cial planning.


And I did­n’t think at the time that either one of us would be here, and cer­tain­ly not both of us togeth­er run­ning a ven­ture-back start­up in tech of all things. Of all things. And I think that’s one of the parts of the sto­ry actu­al­ly, is just the sto­ry of not hav­ing the belief that we could do some­thing like this and you know, read arti­cles about peo­ple that start these com­pa­nies. And it seems like every oth­er one just was too bril­liant to stay at Stan­ford or Har­vard or whether they just, they’re so bored by their sec­ond semes­ter that they just had to leave and go make a bil­lion dol­lars overnight. And just that per­spec­tive I think just always held me back from not even try­ing this, but even start­ing a busi­ness at all and just putting myself out there at all. Cause I just thought, who am I? I’m just like some guy.

Jason Mur­ray (08:55):

Well it’s fun­ny think­ing about that because the first kind of iter­a­tion that we had was actu­al­ly some­thing before Fringe. It was Green­house Mon­ey. And you prob­a­bly remem­ber it more clear­ly cause I’m a lit­tle slow on the uptake some­times, but you had been push­ing for some time for us to leave a larg­er orga­ni­za­tion that we had been at dur­ing finance and

Jor­dan Peace (09:17):

About a year, but nobody’s count­ing <laugh>, right?

Jason Mur­ray (09:21):

Well, one day it final­ly hit me and we just thought, ​“Hey, why don’t we try and go do our own thing?” And so that was kind of the gen­e­sis of what ulti­mate­ly became Green­house Money.

Jor­dan Peace (09:33):

Yeah, I mean that if we had­n’t done that, we would nev­er would’ve done this because that took a mea­sure of courage to just leave this pret­ty estab­lished prac­tice or prac­tices that we both had. We had a long client list, we were on the track, we were doing the things we were doing fol­low­ing. If any­body lis­ten­ing and knows any­thing about North­west­ern Mutu­al, we’re fol­low­ing the Granum Sys­tem, we’re doing our dials and smil­ing and dial­ing and all that stuff and just be on the track. And to step off that track, and to give up every last client and every last com­mis­sion and every last, I don’t even remem­ber what they’re called any­more, but the funds that keep com­ing in, the renewals. Renewals.


That was a big step. And what was cool, there was a cou­ple things that were cool, not just tak­ing that step, but the next thing that was real­ly awe­some was when we went out and start­ed shar­ing that vision with some friends and fam­i­ly and said, ​“Hey, look, we don’t real­ly have any start­up cap­i­tal. We want to go do this thing.” We just were not finan­cial­ly sound either one of us at that point in time. And that was not that many years ago. And so going to folks and say­ing,” Hey, we got a vision. Do you want to put up some cap­i­tal in exchange for some equi­ty in this thing that, yeah, I mean, we’ve got some expe­ri­ence in the indus­try, but we nev­er start­ed a com­pa­ny before.” We did­n’t real­ly know what we were doing. And to have peo­ple take a chance on us and invest some of their hard-earned mon­ey and say like, ​“No, I like your vision.


I trust you, I believe in you. Let’s do this thing.” It was like, whoa. That was a light bulb per­son­al­ly. And I think prob­a­bly for both of us, that maybe what we were doing was going to be wild­ly suc­cess­ful or not, I don’t know. But it was a light bulb that I don’t have to nec­es­sar­i­ly be a per­son of great means to go into get start­ed in some­thing right now. It takes a good net­work. It takes know­ing peo­ple, it takes cast­ing a vision and so forth. And I think we’re priv­i­leged to know at least a hand­ful of peo­ple that could help us in that way. But that spark was the only rea­son why when the idea of Fringe came about, it was like, okay, what’s stop­ping us? Right? There’s peo­ple out there with mon­ey and they will write a check to invest in your idea if they like it and they like you and you can go do what­ev­er you want. And it’s just like, what is this world like? That was just so for­eign at the time, and now it all feels very nor­mal. And we’ve lived and been steeped in that for a num­ber of years now.

Jason Mur­ray (12:05):


Jor­dan Peace (12:05):

We got start­ed with Fringe. The idea came out of our work in finan­cial plan­ning, obvi­ous­ly work­ing with so many, I’d say Gen X and Gen Y most­ly is who we were work­ing with. Young indi­vid­u­als, young cou­ples, try­ing Green­house Mon­ey, by the way, finan­cial plan­ning firm. We should have explained that, that may be appar­ent from the con­text. But we were help­ing them try to save mon­ey, fig­ure out what they want­ed to do in life, fig­ure out how they want­ed to invest, how they bud­get, how they would be respon­si­ble, yada, yada, yada. What was inter­est­ing was that we often talked about their career. It’s just a nat­ur­al thing to talk about when you’re talk­ing about mon­ey is how much I make and do, should I switch careers? Should be gun­ning for this pro­mo­tion, I just got a raise. Oh, yay. Now we can save more over here and invest more over there.


So it was just a nat­ur­al thing to talk about. And com­ing to the real­iza­tion that I think a lot of peo­ple looked at their career as some­thing that was just not very sat­is­fy­ing and not from the stand­point of the work. I men­tioned this just a few min­utes ago, not because the work was­n’t good or suit­ed for them nec­es­sar­i­ly, but you just got this sense that there was this cyn­i­cism around, well, when they told you what they made, it was like, here’s what I make. I prob­a­bly should have made more, but nobody appre­ci­ates me. It was like the under­tone, right? And I don’t think that that means that we were just unlucky enough to find every per­son in Amer­i­ca that was under­paid. I think it’s that feel­ing is not real­ly so much com­ing from the mon­ey as com­ing from just not feel­ing appre­ci­at­ed or seen. Right? Yeah. And

Jason Mur­ray (13:46):

Well, it’s trans­ac­tion­al. It’s trans­ac­tion­al. I mean, we talk about that a lot around Fringe. That exchange of wages for time is just some­thing over all these years of human his­to­ry that has just been like, I’m going to give you some of my effort in exchange for that mon­ey. And it’s exact­ly that. It’s a trans­ac­tion. Yeah, it’s noth­ing more. But I think you and I believe in this is part of what we’re try­ing to bring to the sur­face and some of these con­ver­sa­tions is that we as humans are more than that. And so it’s no won­der that that’s a dis­sat­is­fy­ing expe­ri­ence for all of these peo­ple that we were talk­ing to in the finance busi­ness that we’re

Jor­dan Peace (14:25):

Doing. Yeah, I agree whole­heart­ed­ly. So I think real­iza­tion num­ber one is peo­ple are dis­sat­is­fied with their work for the rea­sons that we just named. I, we believe some­times maybe the work’s not suit­ed, but I think most­ly, I think we’re hit­ting the nail on the head there. The sec­ond real­iza­tion is that peo­ple did­n’t real­ly ful­ly grasp or under­stand the ways in which their employ­er was actu­al­ly try­ing to show some love or some appre­ci­a­tion <affir­ma­tive>. Because the way employ­ers have been try­ing to show love and appre­ci­a­tion, if you can give them cred­it for that over the last 80 years, is through pri­mar­i­ly just a 401k and health insur­ance. So that was the oth­er Bing. It was just like, wait. And we start­ed doing the research. We were like, wait, health insur­ance as a ben­e­fit has been around since the for­ties, and the 401(k)s since the late sev­en­ties. What’s changed since then real­ly in a big way, a big right cat­e­gor­i­cal change, pret­ty much noth­ing ad hoc this and that and sort of try­ing to plug holes and put band-aids and lip­stick on a pig, if you will.


That seems to be every­thing that’s been done since the eight­ies. And that was the per­haps even big­ger real­iza­tion for us is just like, oh wow, there’s a seri­ous lack of inno­va­tion in the ben­e­fits world. And we’ve, we’ve got­ten mul­ti­ple gen­er­a­tions since the eight­ies in terms of who’s kind of the pri­ma­ry force in the work­force. And then of course mil­len­ni­als now, and then we’re going to get chased out by the Gen Zs <laugh> at some point in the not so dis­tant future. But just the thought process of, wow, there needs to be a change. And so I think the obvi­ous strug­gle at that point, the obvi­ous rea­son why we could have walked away from it, is because when you look at who admin­is­ters ben­e­fits in, at least in Amer­i­ca, it’s giants, just tight­ens giant com­pa­nies that have been doing it for decades and decades. Super entrenched bro­ker rela­tion­ships all over the place. Every­thing’s just very locked, uptight, air­tight. And we’re just kind of com­pet­ing for a lit­tle bit of mar­ket share. And it’s like, yeah, we’re going to get in there and inno­vat­ed David and Goliath type of sto­ry. And that was scary. Yeah. But I want

Jason Mur­ray (16:57):

To you to take us though to, cause I think, at least for me, it was a real­ly dis­tinct moment when the idea for Fringe specif­i­cal­ly came about. And so we had some clients in the office, the

Jor­dan Peace (17:13):

Client’s in the office one day, there’s a client in the office because we start­ed a com­pa­ny and thank­ful­ly we were able to get some new clients, even though we walked away from all of our old clients. And her name was Lind­say, I remem­ber, was sit­ting in the office and she asked a ques­tion, which is not the first per­son to asked this ques­tion about how her, I think it was health insur­ance, ben­e­fits worked, a dis­abil­i­ty or some­thing that hor­ri­bly bor­ing, that even peo­ple in our own indus­try were just like, ​“do I real­ly have to explain this?” And so after explain­ing this thing for 20 min­utes and her eyes glazed over, I walked her to the door. I remem­ber I came back next to you. I don’t even know if I sat. Cause I was just frus­trat­ed. And I was just like, ​“Why? First, why do we have to con­tin­ue to explain this thing to people?


But sec­ond­ly, and most impor­tant­ly, why are com­pa­nies offer­ing exclu­sive­ly things that peo­ple don’t under­stand?” And because you don’t under­stand them, they also don’t appre­ci­ate them. And if they don’t appre­ci­ate them, then they might be a waste of mon­ey, or at least an inef­fi­cient use of mon­ey to just go, yeah, here’s some insur­ance that you don’t get. Here’s a con­tract that you’re nev­er going to read. Here’s a 401k that if you hap­pen to live to be 65 years old, it’s going to ben­e­fit you some­day. That’s great. Not that peo­ple should­n’t save, it’s not that peo­ple should­n’t insure them­selves, but if the point of the ben­e­fits is to engen­der loy­al­ty, and to show appre­ci­a­tion, and to try to have more than a trans­ac­tion with your peo­ple, which that’s what the salary is. You do work, I pay you mon­ey. That’s the trans­ac­tion. The ben­e­fits should be more than that.


And so it all just kind of mate­ri­al­ized in that moment. And I was just like, you know what, man, this needs to be inno­vat­ed and we should be the ones to do it. And I remem­ber even that day, sim­ply because we were kind of finance nerds and we know that indus­try, we even had the word ​‘Fringe’ because fringe ben­e­fits if you know, have our back­ground. It’s like, yeah, that’s cool. It’s what it is tech­ni­cal­ly. Yeah, it’s kind of a cool startup‑y word, but it’s also lit­er­al­ly what the idea was of tak­ing this idea of fringe ben­e­fits that his­tor­i­cal­ly have real­ly been more reserved for the exec­u­tive and the jet would be a fringe ben­e­fit, right? Some­thing like that. The com­pa­ny jet and tak­ing that and democ­ra­tiz­ing that and say, well, what if we took fringe ben­e­fits and applied it to every­one and just said, no, you don’t have to be some unique per­son in the organization.


You don’t have to be at this lev­el in the orga­ni­za­tion. You just have to be here on this team. And these are the ben­e­fits that team­mates on this team get. And I don’t want to say wel­come to the fam­i­ly because fam­i­ly and busi­ness is not always the best word, but that emo­tion of wel­come to the fam­i­ly here are these things, right? I think what we felt at that time would be real­ly impact­ful in the work­force. And that the next finan­cial advi­sor that’s sit­ting down with their client that works for X, Y, Z com­pa­ny that has these sorts of ben­e­fits in place, they would­n’t sit down with the same cyn­i­cal atti­tude. They would sit down and say, this is what I make and this is what our com­pa­ny does. And I love work­ing there and I have these cool ben­e­fits that real­ly enhance my life in var­i­ous ways, and it would be a dif­fer­ent con­ver­sa­tion. And that’s a lofty thing to go after to try to erad­i­cate cyn­i­cism in all of the work­force. But the cyn­i­cism is com­ing from a rela­tion­al break­down. And I think if you can find ways to heal that and find ways to com­mu­ni­cate well in this rela­tion­ship between employ­er and employ­ee, I think we actu­al­ly can change the work­force and in a real­ly sig­nif­i­cant way.

Jason Mur­ray (21:07):

So we go from this moment where this client leaves the office and we have this con­ver­sa­tion about what are fringe ben­e­fits, what could be done dif­fer­ent­ly? What does this inno­va­tion look like? And so for a while it was just a sticky note on the wall. I mean we had the idea, but we also had this new busi­ness that we had just start­ed. It was going real­ly well, it was. And so we weren’t try­ing to go start some­thing new, espe­cial­ly in an are­na that we real­ly had no expe­ri­ence in what­so­ev­er. But it was one of those ideas that was just real­ly sticky. It just kind of lodged in your mind. We start­ed hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions with some friends about it, and one thing led to anoth­er and shout out to Chris, one of our oth­er co-founders, but he was the one that real­ly put some effort behind this. Well,

Jor­dan Peace (21:55):

Poor Chris. I mean, Chris and I, Chris, you can look him up on LinkedIn. He won’t respond to you because he is not active enough. But Chris Luhrman, one of our co-founders, he has been a very, very good friend of mine since 2007. We were in, no, I’m sor­ry, 2004. We were in col­lege togeth­er. He has heard at least a cou­ple of hun­dred busi­ness ideas from me and pret­ty much told me that all of them were bad. And so that it real­ly was like to have peo­ple that know you so well and your BS and know, like, what you bring to the table, and then you see their eyes light up when you share an idea. It’s like, yeah, that’s far more proof than some very cor­dial, very polite stranger that’s just like, oh yeah, that’s a great idea. So that it real­ly was, I mean, cred­it to Chris real­ly, gen­uine­ly and lit­er­al­ly, because I don’t think with­out that approval and that sort of push and that, no man, this is the one, I don’t think we would’ve done it.

Jason Mur­ray (23:02):


Jor­dan Peace (23:02):

Def­i­nite­ly not for all the rea­sons that you just named and oth­ers. Yeah. Yeah.

Jason Mur­ray (23:06):

We were pret­ty busy. So I mean, he went off and did a ton of research. I mean, I remem­ber sit­ting in the lit­tle clos­et office that we had with lit­er­al­ly print­ed, because that’s what we did all the articles

Jor­dan Peace (23:18):

I’m still not sure why we print­ed, but we print­ed everything.

Jason Mur­ray (23:21):

We’d high­light.

Jor­dan Peace (23:22):

I prob­a­bly should­n’t admit it. Yeah, I don’t know. We did.

Jason Mur­ray (23:27):

And I mean, it was stuff from McK­in­sey and Deloitte and Gart­ner and all these places that do the research on employ­ee trends. Forester and Forester. Yeah, that was a big one.

Jor­dan Peace (23:40):

That study was a big one.

Jason Mur­ray (23:41):

And we just sat down and start­ed read­ing, high­light­ing the things that stood out and the trends that real­ly kind of caught our atten­tion then that seemed to,

Jor­dan Peace (23:51):

I wish we had a pic­ture of us, because I have a men­tal image of that lit­tle clos­et office, and we’re sit­ting in the mid­dle of the floor in that lit­tle shab­by car­pet every­where, and they’re just spread out in almost a com­plete cir­cle around us, and we’re just crawl­ing around high­light­ing things. Yeah,

Jor­dan Peace (24:07):

It was great. I kind of missed those days.

Jason Mur­ray (24:09):

We were like children.

Jor­dan Peace (24:10):

We were, I mean, just dis­cov­er­ing some­thing new was a pure moment.

Jason Mur­ray (24:16):

But I remem­ber what was real­ly excit­ing about it was, I mean, we’ve had plen­ty of ideas, you and I togeth­er that all lived on that sticky note where Fringe was. But it was very val­i­dat­ing when we start­ed look­ing at that trend research because it was talk­ing about things like the per­son­al­iza­tion of ben­e­fits, the chang­ing employ­ee expe­ri­ence, the expec­ta­tions that employ­ees had, what the future of work was going to look like. And so all of a sud­den, I think for us, it went from, hey, maybe this is just an inter­est­ing idea to, oh wow, there’s actu­al­ly some­thing here that maybe we could do some­thing about.

Jor­dan Peace (24:53):

Yeah, yeah. Absolute­ly. And then also backed up by, of course, you start call­ing peo­ple, you start to find the arti­cles online of some cool com­pa­ny that did some cool thing. And then when you’re in busi­ness cre­ation mode, you don’t just read the arti­cle, you call the ceo, right? Hey, tell me about why you’re doing this and beg peo­ple to talk to you and give you infor­ma­tion. And that was real­ly cool. Cause we found com­pa­nies that were essen­tial­ly try­ing to cre­ate Fringe them­selves just for their own employ­ees and real­ly kind of low res­o­lu­tion ways. But the heart of it was there. I want each of my indi­vid­u­als, indi­vid­ual employ­ees to feel like indi­vid­u­als and to feel like they’re get­ting per­son­al­ized kind of ser­vice and atten­tion from the ben­e­fits that we’re offer­ing. And it was­n’t tra­di­tion­al stuff. It was the same type of things that we were think­ing about with ser­vices and expe­ri­ences and sub­scrip­tions and things that peo­ple in our gen­er­a­tion spend their mon­ey on. I mean, in real­ly sig­nif­i­cant amounts of mon­ey on. And so that was all of that kind of togeth­er, I think Novem­ber, Decem­ber of 2018, it was like, let’s

Jason Mur­ray (26:04):

Go. Yeah,

Jor­dan Peace (26:05):

Let’s do this thing.

Jason Mur­ray (26:06):

So how did you feel start­ing Fringe, not hav­ing any back­ground in HR?

Jor­dan Peace (26:13):

Oh my gosh much. I feel now, hon­est­ly I felt like a fish out of water. And I still often do. I mean, I think any­body that’s led a com­pa­ny or been a co-founder of a com­pa­ny, I hope if they have any humil­i­ty at all, should admit to you that they feel an insane amount of imposter syn­drome. And I think I felt and not to speak for you or say that you don’t feel this way, but I felt that even going to col­lege in my fam­i­ly, giv­en my his­to­ry and back­ground and so forth, even going to col­lege was like, who do you think you are? Type of thing. Yeah. No one said that to me, but that was a feel­ing, right? And then to work in an office and to be a finan­cial plan­ner at North­west­ern Mutu­al and put on three-piece, well, we nev­er real­ly wore three-piece, but put on suits, and it was just like, why aren’t you pea­cock­ing around? Those are the inter­nal voic­es in my mind. And then, okay, you think you can actu­al­ly go com­pete with the Prince­ton dropouts that are rais­ing from Sequoia? What? Real­ly? That’s all the inter­nal dia­logue that has fad­ed some because we have done some of the things that my inter­nal voice said I could­n’t do, right? So it’s like, well, screw you inter­nal voice. We actu­al­ly did that. Right? But there’s still just an insane amount of us,


Us. But I think that’s part of why I want to do this, right? I hope that there’s some­body lis­ten­ing that’s just like, oh yeah, they’re say­ing that. But they’re just hum­ble brag­ging and they prob­a­bly are just bril­liant. I’m actu­al­ly just not bril­liant. I’m, like, smart, I have some ideas. But we just hus­tled and we believed and we had courage, and we tried and failed and tried and failed, and we’re still try­ing and fail­ing all the time. But when you just don’t quit and you just don’t relent, and you just don’t let all the naysay­ers and all the cir­cum­stances tear you down, you can do it. Yeah, you actu­al­ly can. Yeah. Because 99.9% of peo­ple are too scared. So it just leaves all this wide open space for any­one who will have the courage to do pret­ty much any­thing they want in life because oth­ers just won’t.

Jor­dan Peace (28:43):

So any­way, that was kind of a speech, but yeah, I feel like an imposter, but also deter­mined at the same time.

Jason Mur­ray (28:51):

Yeah. Yeah. That’s a good way. Yeah. Cause I would say the same too. Yeah. I mean, it’s kind of ridicu­lous to think, Hey, we’re not soft­ware guys. We’re not engi­neers. Nope. But we thought it would be a good idea to start a soft­ware com­pa­ny when we had no expe­ri­ence what­so­ev­er in the HR peo­ple space, which again, very lit­tle expe­ri­ence. But I do think where you maybe under­sell a lit­tle bit was a lot of both of our expe­ri­ences pro­fes­sion­al­ly before had a lot to do with peo­ple. That’s true. And so I do think we did come into this expe­ri­ence, maybe not with any­thing tech­ni­cal around a soft­ware com­pa­ny or HR in par­tic­u­lar, but I think with a lot of at least vision and pas­sion for what a good work expe­ri­ence should look like. And I think some of what served us well is not hav­ing a lot of cor­po­rate expe­ri­ence. We have very lit­tle appre­ci­a­tion for the way things should be done, right. Because we just don’t know what they are. Yeah, exact­ly. And so a lot of what we’ve done is just been what seems to make sense with what we know and under­stand about peo­ple from our own expe­ri­ences. Yeah,

Jor­dan Peace (30:04):

Exact­ly. I wrote this tongue-in-cheek doc­u­ment a few years ago, you prob­a­bly remem­ber, called the Cor­po­rate Detox­i­fi­ca­tion Pro­gram. And we nev­er put that out there in the world yet because that is me to do 60% of some­thing and then stop. So that’s what kind of an entre­pre­neur is like, but it’s been so stark, the dif­fer­ence between peo­ple that are com­ing to Fringe as employ­ees that are either com­ing out of school or they’re com­ing out of just some­thing non-cor­po­rate, whether maybe they were a teacher or maybe they were in non­prof­it, what­ev­er. They come in and it’s like, this is amaz­ing. I’ll love this, but it’s not for­eign. This is great. Peo­ple that come from cor­po­rate Amer­i­ca are like, what is this place? I just go through some sort of inter­di­men­sion­al por­tal into anoth­er Land, what is hap­pen­ing? All that cor­po­rate BS pro­fes­sion­al­ism just is not what they found. They found peo­ple that just actu­al­ly care about them as human beings and are going to put expec­ta­tions on ​‘em and want ​‘em to per­form and suc­ceed, but not in this but­toned up cor­po­rate machine kind of way. And I’m real­ly proud of that. And you’re right. I mean, that is the expe­ri­ence we brought to the table. That is the, it’s the eq. There’s some IQ there. Sure, of course. We could­n’t do this with­out some IQ, but I think the EQ has been the rea­son for the suc­cess so far.

Jason Mur­ray (31:42):

Yeah. Yeah. I like to think too, we just did­n’t know any bet­ter. That’s true. A lot of times.

Jor­dan Peace (31:47):

Yeah, naivety is a pow­er­ful thing. It is.

Jason Mur­ray (31:50):

Yeah. I mean, I think I’d do it all again, but there’s stuff where it’s like, man, if you had known how hard it was, you prob­a­bly would’ve thought twice about some of the dif­fi­cul­ties of build­ing a com­pa­ny and two or three times.

Jason Mur­ray (32:03):

For sure. Well, the last thing I want to talk about now is just a lit­tle bit more explic­it­ly what Fringe does and the space that we’re in is HR, but we built a prod­uct and a plat­form that is very specif­i­cal­ly designed to help around this con­cept of lifestyle ben­e­fits. And so would love to actu­al­ly just hear you talk a lit­tle bit about what are lifestyle ben­e­fits? What is it that we’re try­ing to do here with Fringe?

Jor­dan Peace (32:32):

Yeah. I mean, I think we’ve cov­ered a lot of what we’re not. We talked about tra­di­tion­al ben­e­fits. Things haven’t changed since the for­ties or eight­ies or how­ev­er you’re count­ing that. And what we set out to do was a cou­ple of things. One, we want­ed to make ben­e­fits more per­son­al­ized because even I’m one of my 37, even in my child­hood grow­ing up by the time I was a teenag­er, there’s Star­bucks around, and it’s just the per­fect anal­o­gy because 20 years pri­or to that, you walk into a cof­fee shop if there was such a thing, and it’s like ​“you want small or large or what,” I mean, these are the choic­es. And then now it’s like I give some 17 word descrip­tion of the per­fect drink with exact­ly the kind of milk I want and the tem­per­a­ture and how frothy it is, and syrups and sauces, and I don’t even know what I’m saying.


I’m just, that type of per­son­al­iza­tion is just native to our expe­ri­ence and cer­tain­ly any­body younger than us. It’s just like, well, yeah, you don’t just get the same thing oth­er peo­ple do. Obvi­ous­ly that’s the expe­ri­ence of the mar­ket­place. And so when you go into the work­place and then you’re just going back in time and it’s just choco­late, vanil­la, or straw­ber­ry, it’s like, where is my per­son­al­iza­tion? So that was one thing we set out to do is make sure that every­body could select for them­selves the things that were most per­ti­nent to their life, to their lifestyle, to their per­son­al­i­ty, to their fam­i­ly, if they have one.


And then I think the sec­ond thing we want­ed to do is just to get away from tra­di­tion­al ben­e­fits where you have to be sick or dis­abled or dead or dis­mem­bered or 65 years old. That was a fun insur­ance to sell. It’s the best to ben­e­fit from your ben­e­fits. We just kind of asked the ques­tion, which seems obvi­ous now that we’ve been ask­ing it for four years. Where are the ben­e­fits that I can ben­e­fit from now in my every­day life and per­pe­tu­ity where I don’t have to be sick, noth­ing has to be wrong. I also don’t have to wait 30 to 40 years to actu­al­ly receive some of the ben­e­fits. And so those were the two dri­ving forces, per­son­al­iza­tion and then meet­ing needs now. And then that led us down this path to ser­vices, right? Because ser­vices not only are, I think, the way to show per­pet­u­al val­ue and per­pet­u­al appre­ci­a­tion to your peo­ple, but they’re also just how our gen­er­a­tion and gen­er­a­tions com­ing behind us spend their mon­ey, right? It’s not about how many cars you can get in the dri­ve­way or how many sto­ries your house is or what­ev­er. It’s about the trips and the cool sub­scrip­tions that you like and the ridicu­lous­ly fan­cy cof­fee that nobody needs, but we all love it. It’s about the feel­ing of those feel­ings and those moments that you can gen­er­ate through real­ly thought­ful and unique services.


So that’s what we do. We pro­vide that to the world. We issue this plat­form that has all of these options avail­able to employ­ees. Employ­ers sim­ply pur­chase that. They fund it on behalf of their peo­ple, typ­i­cal­ly month­ly, some­times in oth­er fash­ions, and then their peo­ple can log in and just Jews. It’s curat­ed and per­son­al­ized, and we try to guide peo­ple towards the right things for them and so forth based on where they live and some oth­er demo­graph­ic things. And that’s fringe in a nut­shell, at least as it exists

Jason Mur­ray (36:21):

Today. Yeah. Yeah. I think one of the real­ly cool things is the notion of ser­vices and why that’s so dif­fer­ent or expe­ri­ences more specif­i­cal­ly. And some of the research that psy­chol­o­gists have done around how humans expe­ri­ence hap­pi­ness when they make pur­chas­ing deci­sions, I think is real­ly fas­ci­nat­ing because the imme­di­ate sat­is­fac­tion of a pur­chase, like Ama­zon, for exam­ple, feels good in the moment more so than an expe­ri­ence even. But the research has shown that the dura­tion of the hap­pi­ness over time is far supe­ri­or. It’s defin­i­tive sur­round­ing expe­ri­ences. And so we’ve seen that with the younger gen­er­a­tion, of course, who have looked at their par­ents and said, Hey, I don’t want to spend my mon­ey on stuff. I want to have expe­ri­ences. And so they’re actu­al­ly right. I think it’s fair to say that instinct, because the research is show­ing that as humans, we are wired for that more than we are for the things or the stuff. And so I think that’s some­thing that’s real­ly impor­tant to them.

Jor­dan Peace (37:23):

I think even when you’re receiv­ing a gift, that’s true. Even if you don’t buy the thing your­self, I mean, we’re sit­ting here Jan­u­ary 5th. I mean, we just had Christ­mas at home with my fam­i­ly. We cel­e­brate Christ­mas, and if I ask my nine year old ​“what did you get for Christ­mas this year?” She could tell me. If I ask her what she got for Christ­mas last year, no idea. But she could tell me con­ver­sa­tions that we had on a fam­i­ly vaca­tion when she was five, because it was part of this expe­ri­ence that was mean­ing­ful to her that moved her right. In a way that just, it’s long last­ing. So I think very much the same. And whether you’re pur­chas­ing the thing or whether you’re just receiv­ing it as a gift, it’s those expe­ri­ences and those things that are more per­pet­u­al in nature are just powerful.

Jason Mur­ray (38:10):

Yeah. Well, that is a top­ic we’re going to spend a lot more time on in future episodes because I think we both have a lot to say about that. So we have a long stand­ing tra­di­tion on this show, long stand­ing, being that it’s our first episode

Jor­dan Peace (38:24):

Here, long stand­ing since about 36 min­utes here. That’s right.

Jason Mur­ray (38:28):

Where I pick a some­what ran­dom word that Jor­dan then has to work into the con­ver­sa­tion at some point in the next episode. And so our word for today, oh no, I will admit. It’s just the New York Times Word of the Day. Okay. I did­n’t actu­al­ly come up with this myself, but I thought it was good. You’d appre­ci­ate it is ​“ame­lio­rate.”

Jor­dan Peace (38:47):

Wow, ame­lio­rate.

Jason Mur­ray (38:49):

So, okay, everyone,

Jor­dan Peace (38:52):

First I’ll Google it and then I will work it into the next week’s con­ver­sa­tion. <laugh>.

Jason Mur­ray (38:58):

So look out for ame­lio­rate folks.

Jor­dan Peace (39:00):

Wow. That’s going to be a

Jason Mur­ray (39:01):

Lot of fun in the next episode.

Jor­dan Peace (39:02):

Awe­some. Well, this has been the very first episode. Thank you so much for join­ing us on How Peo­ple Work. Again, I’m Jor­dan Peace. This is Jason Mur­ray. If you can see the video of me point­ing towards him. If not, Jason is on the oth­er side of the mic here. We are so grate­ful for you lis­ten­ing. Please reach out to us. Let us know top­ics and things that you would like us to dis­cuss. If there’s any arti­cles that you’re read­ing that you think we should read, let us know, and we’d be hap­py to work that into the episode. Kind of like the word ame­lio­rate, we’ll be hav­ing guests in the near future as well. If you’ve been a lis­ten­er and you would like to sug­gest a guest to us, that has actu­al­ly gone real­ly well for me in the past. I have sug­gest­ed guests that just kind of fit and would enjoy this type of con­ver­sa­tion. So do that as well. But oth­er­wise, we’ll see you soon on How Peo­ple Work.

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