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  • Writer's pictureJuliette & Iseult

Pioneer Recap: THE ROOKIE MINDS "Look at the world with rookie eyes"

We met The Rookie Minds in Utrecht, a great city not far from Amsterdam, back in July.

We had spotted the company beforehand and we loved their approach straight away!

If you check their website, you can see their manifesto states that they are a group of individuals "Brought together by a shared belief that real vibrancy comes when we keep looking at the world through rookie eyes".

The definition of the word rookie might help you understand their philosophy. A rookie is "a person who is new to an organization or an activity".

So, if you take their name literally (and you should) it means that each and every person working at The Rookie Minds always acts with the curiosity and eagerness of the newbie.

It resonated with us since our mission with Make It Work is essentially to deconstruct the assumptions we have about work and organizations!

> We also interviewed them on camera. You can check it here.

  • The Rookie Minds is a consulting company with curious professionals with diverse backgrounds helping all kinds of clients organizations in to humanize work by creating and stimulating human centric structures, a self-regulating culture, a self-renewal rookie mindset and conscious behavior.

  • It was founded in 2015.

  • They are currently 20 - with a mix of coaches as well as legal & finance experts. Some of them are self-employed and some are employees of the structure.

  • They set their own salaries.

  • Unlimited holidays/vacations.

  • Trust, autonomy and responsibility attract people to the company

Merlijn - Lisette - Brechje - Edwin - Conrad


At The Rookie Minds, one of their key values is trust. Full trust. It is what struck us the most. We had the feeling that they could try and organize themselves in so many different ways, it would still work because they put the emphasis on trust.

In that context, they told us that it made sense for them to allow everyone to set her/his own salary.

Their vision is that there is no "highest ranking" employee because there are technically no managers, only consultants. Naturally, if you go down that path, no one is equipped to decide for the rest of the team what they should earn.

How does it work and how do they calculate the salary?

You decide your own salary:

  • When you enter the company

  • When you want a raise

The Rookie Minds is a consulting company. Everyone inside the company is a consultant and has clients. To determine their salary, they reflect on the following question: what can I bring to the organization?

Here is how it works:

Step 1. Calculating your own potential salary.

Two things are mainly taken into account:

1. Your revenue & margin:

  • How much money am I bringing to the organization? Based on their experience and expertise they all have a personal hourly rate (=how much they charge a client per hour). So, their revenue is roughly the number of hours they work multiplied by their hourly rate.

    • How much do I cost the structure? Insurance, social security…

With those two parameters combined, they then calculate their margin (money brought in, money spent on them).

2. Your contribution (often non-monetary) to the organization as a whole.

Less straightforward than margin. They are all consultants but they have additional roles (Social Media lead, Team Building, Event Organizer...) This also represents work. It means it should be compensated on top of their base salary aforementioned.

Step 2: Presenting it to the rest of the team, only asking for advice. (i.e Advice Process).

Now that they have calculated the salary or the raise they deem to be fair for themselves, they will present it to the rest of the team, asking for advice.

It is usually done during the weekly meeting. They pitch to whomever is present. Anyone from the company can challenge, ask questions and give their opinions.

At the end, people vote in the open regarding the proposed salary or raise, it constitutes the advice.

Step 3: Deciding for yourself with the advice of others and your personal opinion.

The important thing to remember is that this advice doesn't have to be followed. You can go against what was advised in the meeting. In the end, you are queen/king in your castle.

We asked Rookie Minders what they thought about it. For instance, Lisette comes from a lawyer background, where things are pretty much set in stone. She told us setting your own salary can be scary at first because you can feel like you have to pitch yourself to ask for a raise.

All in all, you could argue that setting your own salary and asking for a raise is a bit uncomfortable because no one is really at ease with talking about money. But trust is what makes it work. They don’t feel uneasy at the thought of getting uncomfortable and vulnerable: that is the key ingredient!


At The Rookie Minds, no one has the power to tell someone else that they should not take a day off. Not even the founders.

They have no quota for holidays and days off. This means you can take as many as you would like.

Does that mean that some people will go on holidays for 6 months?

Absolutely not.

Trust being one of their key values: why would they need to implement a cap on days off and treat people like they will abuse it?

In addition to that, they all work for external clients so their on-going assignments put a limit on how many days off they can take. Full trust also means that, at the end of the day, the only person you have to look at in the mirror is yourself.

In our opinion, this good practice is a symbol of their flexible way of working mindset. If you can organize your time during the day with flexible working hours, why not do it over the course of a year?

Disclaimer: in some cases, unlimited holidays can lead people to take less days off. It depends on the company, the industry and the culture.


When we visit companies, we try to understand their profound motivation to join an atypical company.

We found the story of Lisette inspiring. She started her career as a lawyer in a big traditional law firm. She quickly became uneasy at the imbalance between work and life. She felt the environment was too strict and felt like she was often being checked. From that experience, she told us:

“I believe you should judge people by their outputs”

Lisette (right)

She loved being a lawyer though. Just not how she was doing it. She moved on to another role, and was referred to The Rookie Minds by her former manager.

Her first contact with the company, she told us, "didn’t feel like an interview".

Nowadays, within The Rookie Minds, she does legal consulting with clients and she takes part in organizing team-building activities.

Here is what she loves about working at the company:

  • Your personal purpose is taken into account. You are in charge of your own workload, you don’t get staffed like in any other consulting firm.

  • There is no fear culture. They share their tensions. You can be insecure and vulnerable. “It’s a safe playground”.

  • They don’t have managers.

We could really tell she enjoyed working there!


“The philosophy is that if you give trust to your employees, they act as if it’s their own company”.

That is what Conrad, the cofounder told us. We thought that it was the perfect wrap up from our visit at The Rookie Minds.

The attractive good practices we mentioned above would not make any sense if it weren't for the trust, ownership and curiosity that are embodied in every aspect of the company!

Thank you Conrad, Merlijn, Brechje, Lisette and Edwin!



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