Whom Should You Hire at a Startup? (Attitude Over Aptitude)

Posted on Mar 17, 2011 | 77 comments


This post originally ran on TechCrunch.

Startups.We know the mantra: Team matters. Is this philosophy exaggerated? Overrated? Cliché? No. Team is the only thing that matters.

Whatever you’re working on now, the half-life of innovation is so rapid now that your product will soon be out-of-date. Your existence is irrelevant unless you continue rapid innovation.  Your ability to keep up is dependent on having a great team of differing skills. Individuals don’t build great companies, teams do.

The nature of the Internet and global knowledge is such that even if you’ve stumbled on to a super interesting area of innovation there will be many teams tackling the same problem at exactly the same time.  If you develop something novel that catches a spark you’ll have the world gunning for you over night. In this globally connected world product leads disappear in nano-seconds.

The company with the best team on the field will win. This will be the team who hires the most talented people, channels them in the most productive configuration and gets the most output from their unique capabilities.

So how exactly do you assemble such a team?

1. Only hire A players
There’s an old saying, “A players beget A players. B players beget C players.” Why? Well, A players are discerning and tend to only want to join somewhere where they perceive other A players are. B players tend to have slightly more self-confidence issues so they tend to hire people slightly worse than themselves – thus C teams.

Is this a universal truism? Of course not. But it is general pattern matching. And it’s why VCs tend to look for uber-talented founding teams. We know that if you start with ho-hum founders you’re less likely to assemble a world-class team.

So if you’re trying to scale your team be focused on quality. Don’t sacrifice. Don’t hire too quickly just because you raised money or because you feel pressure to make things happen. The minute you compromise on quality you’ve already begun the descent.

Aim high.

2. Find people to “punch above their weight class”
I wrote an entire blog post about this in the past highlighting my belief that you should hire people who “punch above their weight class.” But what does that actually mean?

It means that many management teams I know feel the need to hire people who have “done it before” and frankly many VCs encourage this. It’s a mistake. When you hire somebody too early who has already “done it” you often find somebody that is less motivated in tough times, less willing to be scrappy (as many startups need to be), more “needy” and less mentally flexible / willing to change their way of thinking.

Importantly, you also find people who are too quick to undermine the authority of the founders. They “know more.” You don’t want sycophants – don’t get me wrong – you want people who challenge your thinking and a meritocracy of ideas. But you don’t want team members who openly question your judgment, your authority. At least not publicly.

So what do it mean to “punch above one’s weight class?” It’s a boxing analogy. It means a welter weight who wants to fight in the heavy-weight category. It means a “young Turk” who has something to prove. It means somebody who held the director of sales in their last company but in this company wants to be VP. Their last company said, “you don’t have enough years of experience.”

You said, “Eff experience. I want to know whether you can deliver. If you can, you’re golden. You’ll go a long way. If you can’t – you’re toast. Are you up for it?” It’s Tristan Walker of FourSquare. They hired him when he was an MBA. He had no right asking for a senior biz dev role at one of the hottest companies in the US. But he was ready to punch above his weight class. And he pushed for it.

And heavy-weight he has become. He is out innovating people with 10 years’ his experience. He is hungry. He is an A player. His innovation and execution are proving his worth.

3. ABR: Always be recruiting
In the entire time I was an entrepreneur I think I never really stopped recruiting.

In my busiest days I was still taking early-morning coffees or end-of-day beers to meet as many people as I could. Sunday mornings often became recruiting coffee sessions.

One of the “tells” for me of a management team that will not be extra-ordinarily successful is that they’re not always recruiting. I’ve seen it before – I send a talented member to a team and they say to me, “we don’t really have a role for that person.”

Really? I always have a role for talented people. I may not have a BUDGET for talented peole – but I always have a role for them. What role? Who the F knows. But let me at least have a coffee and feel out their enthusiasm, talent and ambitions.

I might choose to do an upgrade on my existing team. I might be grooming them for when I have more money or more revenue. I might not be able to persuade them now but I want them to know my company so that when I’m ready to step on the gas I have a list of A players I want.

Sure, the challenges to me are obvious:
• How can I afford them?
• How do I motivate them?
• If I bring them on board now, how do I not reduce the motivation from those that I have already hired?
• Should I upgrade existing staff or hire them laterally?
• Can I persuade them to join when they have other choices?

If you’re not dedicating a large chunk of time to continually “recruiting” then you’re high. Or maybe you’re “low” – as in “not likely to succeed.”

Remember. Always be recruiting. ABR.

4. Don’t worry about exact “roles”
I think the most limiting factor that stops startups from recruiting is the “we don’t have an open spec” or “we already have somebody doing that role” excuse. Don’t let that be you. Your team can always make room for David Beckham. Lebron James. Keith Rabois. Sheryl Sandberg.

Get out there and find them. Ask others for intros to their talented friends. Meet talented people and sell them the vision. Get them exited about what you’re doing. Be relentless.

If they’re amazing, then be radical. Give them controls that they don’t have in their current company. Allocate them enough options to salivate. Convince them that even if they stay only a year they’d learn great stuff that would be valid for the rest of their future. You might need several meetings to bag top prospects. But if you never start you’ll certainly never hire them.

5. Attitude over Aptitude

If you’re doing a great job at continually recruiting and if you have a company ready to hire several people, at some point when you have enough of a pipeline of talented people you need a way to separate them. I have a long-standing mantra, “attitude over aptitude.” This is assuming a raw minimum of MIPS in the candidate. They need to be seriously smart / talented in their field to make the minimum grade.

But within this “minimum acceptable talent level” you still have a wide variance of “employee types.” Let’s be honest – some uber talented people are PITAs. I never hire them. One bad apple spoils things for everybody.

You don’t see it coming. You figure, “sure, they’re a pain but they produce such high quality work I’m willing to put up with them.” Don’t. The last thing you need is some rat bastard fomenting trouble.

They’re the ones who are talking pop at cocktail parties when they’ve had one too many. They’re having private lunches with other employees talking about how they’ve lost faith in your vision.

When you hit internal moments of doubt you need the team members who say, “Guys, we can do this! We’re up against the ropes but we’re not down. Let’s dig in.” You need team members who do that when you’re NOT there. You need … mafia.

If you have a trade-off between somebody who is more talented but a “bad seed” versus somebody who is very talented (but perhaps less so) who is a motivator – I’d hire the latter any day of the week.

Choose attitude over aptitude.

6. Culture matters
Along the same lines as aptitude I would say that “company culture” matters. Know what your principles are. Know the kind of people you want. Know what makes a member of your team. What traits are important to you? What values to you want to embody?

Try to set out guidelines for hiring. Try to live them yourself or people will see through it.  As times get tough you’ll value this culture. Even in uber successful times where you’re hiring like mad you’ll want to know what somebody who embodies your culture is like.

The best book I ever read on this topic was Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh (founder of Zappos). It’s a must read and has great advice on building a company culture.

7. Don’t over-sell
Finally, I always tell management teams not to “over sell” and I never do so myself.

I don’t mean you shouldn’t sell hard on the virtues of your company and why you’re the next Google – you should. If for nothing else you want all of the talented people you interview to spread the gospel whether they join or not.

What I’m talking about is this – if somebody is thinking about joining but you can tell they’re not convinced don’t cross the line to get them to join. What does this mean?

It means don’t tell them that they’re stake will make them $20 million if you’re not convinced it will. Don’t promise them that their role will be much bigger than you’re planning. Don’t promise revenue or growth faster than you know you can achieve.

Sell hard, sure. But don’t over sell.

Why? Because if somebody is not convinced in their own mind and you arm-twist them to join they’re bound to be unhappy and eventually leave. I’ve seen it a loads of times. You promise the world. You don’t deliver. They are frustrated. They feel duped. They express this to others. Now you have more than one problem.

And it’s never a good thing when a high-profile hire quits unexpectedly. It causes otherwise happy people to second-guess things.

So sell, by all means. But don’t over sell. Don’t promise unrealistic things. Don’t over promise.

So that’s it.

So go and schedule your next coffee meetings. Increase your number of interviews. ABR.

  • http://twitter.com/rkillgo Russell Killgo

    Mark, this is exactly what I have tried to do so far with my startup. It makes me feel like I’m making some of the right decisions when I read posts like this from you. Thank you for always writing about different topics. It’s great that you always have so much info to share with other people and not just talking about the same stuff all the time.

  • http://twitter.com/OSPtempe Michael Witham

    What about hiring a team, not only Jordan’s…?

    “A” talent is one thing, but what about the John Salley’s, Robert Horry’s, or Dennis Rodman’s that allow a team to win championships?

    Role players are just as important, as they alleviate stresses and tasks to allow the genius to come through the super stars… just a thought…

  • http://twitter.com/hongdquan Hong Quan

    I would argue that Salley, Horry and Rodman were all “A” talent as well. Just because they fill a specific role doesn’t mean they are not A players.

    Startups are too small to hire shitty people.

  • Anonymous

    Great timing for this article Mark. Last night I went to an event in Melbourne about “R” I had no idea what “R” was but there was a really successful Aussie Entrepreneur who was giving a talk so I thought why not. Ends up “R” is a statistical package/program and it is used for analysing large data sets for patterns. Anyway a person from the corporate company hosting the party stood up at the beginning said they are looking to hire people, left his business cards on the table and left.

    I on the other hand stayed around and saw which people were asking questions who interacted with the speaker and even who knew the speaker. That additional info allowed me to quickly rattle down who the excited, talented and interesting people I should talk to.

    So in addition to your above points I recommend networking outside of your comfort zone as in my example I learnt about a new type of analysis that will help my startup and I was able to identify 2-3 people I could approach in the future if I got the funds to hire them.

  • http://twitter.com/MayorSacramento Phillip Stephen

    Eat shit and die (nor#andnot; literally in virtual, world virtual world)

  • http://tinyhabit.com Subraya Mallya

    Attitude over Aptitude is such a big point. You always encounter people with skill sets that might be great at a big company but when they come to a startup – it needs to be complemented with the attitude to do whatever it takes and also being a team player. Another thing I have found besides attitude is that find people who have passion for the space you are in albeit not having the necessary skills. With passion, they will grow into that position. In fact, I would say, always hire people who aspire to be in the position, you are trying to hire, rather than people who have been-there-done-that, like the 4sq example you gave. They have a chip on their shoulder and go beyond expectations.

  • Anonymous

    I love how you went to see something that you didn’t know what it was before you went. That is such a great random network generator.

    Either that or they had free beer afterward!

    -XC

  • http://hirethoughts.blogspot.com Donna Brewington White

    Really excellent advice.

    You’ve nailed a lot of the “sales” aspects of good recruiting, and touched on some of the marketing aspects as well. I’m bugging one of the best marketers I know who frequents the VC blogs to tackle a post on the relationship between recruiting and marketing. I think companies would be a lot more successful in their recruiting efforts if they thought of it as marketing.

  • http://analytikainc.com/blog/ John R. Sedivy

    Great advice as usual. The timeliness of your articles never ceases to amaze me – It seems that just as I am struggling with a topic it seems to appear on your blog with a solution!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks XC. Actually all thy had was water and it went really quickly! :) I guess I had no idea but if you have such a quality speaker you will always learn something. Ended up really being interesting and helped me understand why those skills might be useful in my own startup.

  • Anonymous

    Learning stuff is always good.

    We lived in Brizzy for a year when my wife got a post doc there. We loved it.

    I did not see a ton of startup activity – where is your startup and what do you guys do?

    -XC

  • Dave W Baldwin

    Wonderful post and timing.

    1) ONLY A PLAYERS- amazing how 99% relish celebrity… lethargism will get you like bad karma.

    2) ABOVE WEIGHT CLASS- on the mark. It does get frustrating as those close always want easy answer. In the realm of reverse engineering, it is vital since the heavy weights want to discuss only what they know.

    3) ALWAYS RECRUIT- ALWAYS!!! It is a numbers game in the end run.

    4) DON’T WORRY ABOUT ROLES- An evangelist that has the tech side taken care of realizing what level you’re truly bringing about MUST have the humbleness to talk to the best… and that is true confidence. Instead of trying to end up CEO, find the better CEO and be the coach of the championship team.

    5) ATTITUDE/APTITUDE- Always.

    6) CULTURE- Be realistic when you realize that potential Angel is just not right… still yet, don’t burn bridges.

    7) DON’T OVERSELL- at the same time, if you have the detailed plans for something truly game changing, make sure that recruit/investor understands what you’re really talking about. For that reason, patience/perseverence wins and seperates the one hit wonder from long term success.

  • Anonymous

    Ahh Brissy is great. A real shame recently with all the floods but normally great weather. The startup is based in Melbourne and it is currently in stealth mode but happy to talk offline about it. Just ping me on twitter @Humphreypl .
    The startup scene in Australia is really growing with a number of acqusitions and startups getting some great exposure. I am curator for StartupDigest.com in Melbourne so always keen to chat if you want. Cheers Humphrey

  • Vinnie

    All this revolves around hiring, and having money to hire. BUT, lets say you have a solution to pain, market problem. You are a young, non technical individual. What money you do have wont go far in building out a team, given that tech is hot and every decent techie can find a better meal ticket at the Foursquare, Groupon, Twitter of the day. Worst you concept is not in a sexy industry.
    How do you go about building a team then? I think these are realities to which very few seem to have answers or even discuss. Not to bash VC but it seems most want the cool startup, and cool sometimes trumps revenue potential.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    I don’t dispute the general thrust of what you’re saying. I’m not saying that everybody needs to be Jordan. Just that you should hire the best people you can for the appropriate role in your company. A team with all Jordan’s might just be a mess!

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Great story! Thanks for contributing.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Agreed, and that’s what I meant by “punch above their weight class”

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Life = marketing! ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/wfjackson3 Willis F Jackson III

    Recruiting is something I feel like I should study up on. Does anyone have any smart recommendations for reading material on the topic?

  • Scott Kriz

    ABR – never seen that acronym, love it- although when I read it I for some reason hear Alec Baldwin’s voice. I’ve found it extremely valuable to continue to grow my network and watch as the people in my network thrive in startups. It really exposes who the “A players” are (in the startup sense) without actually working with them on a daily basis. Most people that I would want to hire are likely not available, they are “A players” why would they be? So it takes a pretty big network to get access to great talent when you are looking to hire.

    One thing that I’ve always tried to do is only add people to the team that are better at a specific skill than anyone else on the team but at the same time are dynamic enough to wear a few hats. The right attitude is a prerequisite in my mind.

    Re: People that look to undermine the founders. Good leaders can also be lead. Anyone that is looking to undermine is not an “A player”.

    This post is extremely well structured and is the best post I’ve seen on Both Sides of the Table since your post on on improving sales.

    Great read Mark!

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    I’m not sure where you draw that link. I often shun the “cool companies” which I see as a proxy for over-hyped markets. I’m always looking for companies with great long-term revenue potential.

    Yes, recruiting against the titans of the tech world in a bull tech market (e.g. now) can be a challenge. That’s why building companies outside of Silicon Valley can, at times, have a unique advantage (but obviously some disadvantages, too)

  • http://twitter.com/defrag Defrag/Glue

    Mark –

    Great post. It reminded me of some war stories along these lines…..shared here:

    http://gluecon.com/2011/?p=552

  • Anonymous

    Anytime thanks for the post! :)

  • Vinnie

    Regarding the VC comment, I said most, not all… still maybe some would be more accurate.
    The catch 22 is this: the extremely talented with balls are working on something. Those w/o (the ones looking for a paycheck) look to Google or some other high paying cubicle.
    The pool therefore, in my reality, is outsourcing, which is sometimes hard to keep a finger on. BUT the plan is to get some revenue and prove the concept in the market then try for some more in-house talent.

  • Rhatta

    As usual, you’ve captured all of my beliefs down to the core, wrapped in a layer of credibility that I hope to have some day. However, I think your deep beliefs around loyalty rest on one, critical assumption that doesn’t exist everywhere: you know your shit and are a great startup leader. We’ve tussled a bit in previous posts about this topic, so I’m pretty sure I know where you stand and where you’re coming from, and respect that. but what if the CEO/boss doesn’t know what they’re doing, doesn’t understand the customer, is playing with the livelihoods of his/her employees with every bad strategic, or ego-driven decision they make? In these instances, it’s the A-players that get frustrated fastest… seek to change course of the company (usually through appropriate channels, and not in public)… and align with other frustrated A-players (usually over lunch time conversations).

    If you trust the leader, know that they are aligned and passionate and not driven (solely, at least) by ego… yes, loyalty and “let’s fix this, somehow, some way” is the attitude you’ll get. If you’re doing everything you cover on this post, loyalty among A-players will be there in spades. Because you get it. Because you are positioned to win, even if you’re down at the half. However, if that trust is broken, or you join an entrepreneur (we’ve all been oversold) that turns out to not have their shit as together as they appeared… expect your A-players to be the first to leave. That’s not disloyalty. That’s your loss, and due punishment as a bad leader/entrepreneur.

    If you’re an A-player and find yourself in this situation a lot, your compass might be broken. However, at the staff to management levels, you can be forgiven for betting on the wrong jockey once or twice.

  • http://about.me/humphrey HumphreyPL

    I have only heard of TopGrading by Bradford Smart but to be honest. It takes a lot of time to find the right people who are ready at the right time. I am also finding it more beneficial to look out for younger people who are willing to risk their time and who are looking to grow into other positions than ones already in those positions with high salaries.

    I also reckon to me one of the most important is that we have the same core values. That we get on as people first and foremost and that they have a passion for what they do and a passion for the project.

    These are just my recent 2c thoughts.

  • http://about.me/humphrey HumphreyPL

    Keep trying, keep going to events, keep talking to people, never give up. You will find them. Good Luck!

  • http://www.enterthegroup.com Sal Pellettieri

    Great points. I would also add that once you find these talented people that you make sure you have a clear agenda for them and there is some mechanism for them to get feedback and integrate into the company. I once worked at a company that hired tons of brilliant people, but then didn’t give them any direction on what they were to do or feedback on what they were working on. In fact management was practically absentee. It’s a huge mistake.

  • http://www.enterthegroup.com Sal Pellettieri

    Great points. I would also add that once you find these talented people that you make sure you have a clear agenda for them and there is some mechanism for them to get feedback and integrate into the company. I once worked at a company that hired tons of brilliant people, but then didn’t give them any direction on what they were to do or feedback on what they were working on. In fact management was practically absentee. It’s a huge mistake.

  • Rhatta

    Great point. Also, even a team full of Jordans (nevermind A-roleplayers)… that is aligned around a shared set of core values/culture, will dominate. When/if Lebron, Bosh and Wade figure out the second part, the rest of the league is toast.

  • http://twitter.com/Bennuworld Bennu

    I think Mark is dead right.

    A great team can overcome other hurdles such as product failures or competitive markets (obviously the ideal is for all 3 variables to align). I’ve thought about the traits I’ve seen make a great startup team and boiled the ocean to “3 C’s”: One, there should be Complementary skill sets: technical, marketing and management expertise are different domains. Two, there should be Cohesive work styles: hours, approaches to deadlines and accountability are just some of the considerations. Three, there should be Congruent values: some people value money, some people value mission, other people value both. Taken together, I believe the team will be competitive.

    Thanks again for highlighting the matter and being prescriptive — not just another generic “people first” post.

  • http://twitter.com/wfjackson3 Willis F Jackson III

    Yeah I am with you there. That has always been a good compass for me in the past.

    By the way, how come you weren’t at SXSW? I talked to Marko for a bit the other day. I was bummed I didn’t see you too.

  • Anonymous

    I try to identify the people that have “done it before” … then profile what they looked like 5 – 10 years earlier (when they were punching above their weight class), and recruit people that look like THAT! Love the Glengarry ABC / ABR reference. — Rich

  • http://gregmberry.com Greg Berry

    Mark, first, I’m sorry I didn’t have a chance to say hello to you at sxsw. Great accelerator sessions though. I love the concept of recruiting even when there is no budget. Often I find people eager to offer time and energy in hopes of coming on board. As you state, I make it very clear there is not a budget, and yet they still seem enthused and ready to get started. Depending on the person, I quickly find what their motivations are… is it for the potential money, fame or are they truly passionate about what it is we’re doing. If it’s the latter… that’s my guy/gal.

  • http://twitter.com/rachelhonoway rachelhonoway

    This is GREAT advice. Far too many times, startups try to go for “cheap” and end up with sub-par teams producing low-quality results. I completely agree with message in Tony’s book “Delivering Happiness” being so valuable. Anyone can sell shoes, but it takes a strong team following a common goal of providing true value to the customer to be a success… and you just can’t get that by hiring the people who are willing to work for the least.

  • http://twitter.com/rachelhonoway rachelhonoway

    I can see where you’re coming from Michael, but I think that there’s a big difference in the “point guard” /”quarterback”/”team captain” and an “A player”.

    Salley, Horry and Rodman are all A players. Their talents were simply best used to support the talents of another player. But, that didn’t make them Bs.

  • http://twitter.com/davidsmuts David Smuts

    Just one thing to comment on here….,

    A Director once asked me: “Do you hire a person to fit a role” or “Do you a hire a person to create the role?”

    My answer…, “You hire the person to create the role”

    Much better to bring in the talent, mind set and motivation rather than the tick box-role model to fit your pre-determined definitions of the role (it will change any way) . You fit the role to the person, and not the person to the role.

    Btw…., the Director subsequently made THE MOST amazing introductions to our firm you could ever imagine!

  • http://www.insideview.com/ Umberto Milletti

    Mark,
    Excellent stuff, as usual (you’ve become by favorite read on mgmt/startup topics). I agree with all your points, and would add 1 more:
    Velocity – some smart people really struggle with the need to make rapid, decisive moves (often with limited information); and lack the courage to go out on a limb at times. I believe velocity is a requirement for many young companies.

  • http://www.skaboosh.com John Biscevic

    Like many, I read your posts regularly. But, (I think) this is my first comment.

    I started writing it to defend aptitude. The ability to quickly learn, adapt and change is an extremely important trait in people. In my mind, significantly more important that experience. As I was writing, I decided to take one of Ken Fisher’s (of Fisher Investments) viewpoints and try to prove myself wrong. I quickly did.

    Very simply, having someone with the drive to dig in and scrap when needed (as happens so frequently in startups) will deliver some kind of results. Whereas, a highly adaptable person that quits when times get tough delivers none when needed most.

    I still think aptitude is an essential quality to have in every player on the team, but agree it is represented well in the graphic included in the post.

    Thanks for making me think.

  • Gerry

    I have 17 years of Internet experience and am learning something new all the time. I want to work for a start-up. Hire me!
    http://www.linkedin.com/in/searchoptimization

  • http://twitter.com/High_Camp Simon Le Pine

    Hi

    Mark, this is awesome content, I was just about to post a tweet asking you to write something like this (but couldn’t squeeze it into 140 chars). I have 2 quick thoughts:
    1. I would love to hear some feedback on the positions hire for/fill in a tech startup. Now I know this is efferent for every business, every segment, etc. But any thoughts you have on hiring server admin, sales/marketing, UI, etc. would be very much appreciated.

    2. I heard a story many years ago about a woman who ran a tech co. here in Vancouver. She was having a really hard time hiring a developer so in the end she asked her existing developers what they hate doing (billing, support calls, proposals) and she hired someone who loved doing those things. Thus, her developers where happy and so was the new employee. This speaks volumes about the comments further down on hiring for a role vs. creating a role.

    Thanks for continually providing valuable content.

  • http://about.me/humphrey HumphreyPL

    I wish I could of gone but in the end it would of cost me a say $2500 to go, cost me on lost income and cost time on my own startup also I need to save cash for the startup and for a wedding in Jan :) I hope one day I will. How are you going? I miss those Kansis City Ribs!

  • http://www.horsepigcow.com missrogue

    I find that the right attitude always raises aptitude, but the opposite rarely applies. I was once that person who punched above her weight class (actually, I still do – every step has to be achieving the impossible) and Munjal Shah (of like.com) gave me the chance. Within 6 months, everyone in the valley was asking to hire ‘the next Tara Hunt’ but they didn’t realize I was ‘the next Tara Hunt’ only 6 months before that. The right kind of management mixed with the right kind of spirit can turn a welter weight into a heavy weight (p.s. funny thing…I looked up boxing weights and did you know that their is a PAPER weight class? ROFL http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxing_weight_classes)

    Oh…and I’m ALSO a huge fan of setting down company culture early on (was something I discussed with Tony when I was writing my book) and am super proud of the cultural values that we set down last October: http://shwowp.com/culture/ <- all fundamental to the type of organization I want to be part of and run. My favorites are the Striving Towards Wizardry (harder than it looks! but a fun way to pursue that 'Wow' that Tony talks about) and Culture of Yes (I, too, have put money in that NO Jar).

    I can't wait to chat.

  • Keyser Soze

    Mark – I agree with 6 out of 7 points.

    The one I disagree with is: “1. Only hire A players”

    To win, you need a team. A true team is made up of all types of players – not just Michael Jordans. Lakers won the title last year – they had two A players (3, if you include Jackson) – the other 10 were clearly not A players.

    Before someone pipes in saying “They are all NBA players, so they are all A players”. You are wrong. The grading should be done by comparing them to other NBA players, not comparing them to me and you.

    “There’s an old saying: A players beget A players. B players beget C players.”

    Like most “old sayings”, this is just wrong. I have seen no empirical evidence of this in the (highly successful startup) companies I’ve worked at.

    Going back to baseketball, MJ is clearly an “A” player – but judging by his tenure as GM/owner he’s not great at recognizing & recruiting “A” talent. On the other hand, Pat Riley was anything but an “A” player – but he’s great at recognizing & recruiting “A” talent.

    Well, you got 6 out of 7 right. If I have that kind of batting average in all my business decisions, I’ll be a billionaire in a decade! :)

  • Keyser Soze

    Mark – I agree with 6 out of 7 points.

    The one I disagree with is: “1. Only hire A players”

    To win, you need a team. A true team is made up of all types of players – not just Michael Jordans. Lakers won the title last year – they had two A players (3, if you include Jackson) – the other 10 were clearly not A players.

    Before someone pipes in saying “They are all NBA players, so they are all A players”. You are wrong. The grading should be done by comparing them to other NBA players, not comparing them to me and you.

    “There’s an old saying: A players beget A players. B players beget C players.”

    Like most “old sayings”, this is just wrong. I have seen no empirical evidence of this in the (highly successful startup) companies I’ve worked at.

    Going back to baseketball, MJ is clearly an “A” player – but judging by his tenure as GM/owner he’s not great at recognizing & recruiting “A” talent. On the other hand, Pat Riley was anything but an “A” player – but he’s great at recognizing & recruiting “A” talent.

    Well, you got 6 out of 7 right. If I have that kind of batting average in all my business decisions, I’ll be a billionaire in a decade! :)

  • http://twitter.com/StartUpAndGoBiz Matthew Crossett

    Great post Mark,

    In terms of hiring you always have to remember “slow to hire, quick to fire”. This means that you need to take your time hiring people, making sure that they are a good fit for the culture of your team and you business as a whole, and also that they can be worth the time and money that they will be costing you in your company. But also if any person does not work out as you have forseen they would, then you have to fire quickly, as you said, nothing is work for you businesses culture than an incendiary employee who is unhappy in your company. You must fire them right when you realize they are starting to hinder your growth. Great post once again
    http://takecareof.biz/

  • http://twitter.com/StartUpAndGoBiz Matthew Crossett

    Great post Mark,

    In terms of hiring you always have to remember “slow to hire, quick to fire”. This means that you need to take your time hiring people, making sure that they are a good fit for the culture of your team and you business as a whole, and also that they can be worth the time and money that they will be costing you in your company. But also if any person does not work out as you have forseen they would, then you have to fire quickly, as you said, nothing is work for you businesses culture than an incendiary employee who is unhappy in your company. You must fire them right when you realize they are starting to hinder your growth. Great post once again
    http://takecareof.biz/

  • Loligator

    both sides of the pompousdouchebag.com ? bleary eyed early in the morning

  • http://twitter.com/rrohan189 rrohan189

    Very very true. I specifically liked the point about ‘always having a role’ vs a budget. Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/LutzVA Lutz Villalba-Adorno

    Found this Mini Saga about the topic on http://www.rajeshsetty.com/2010/06/16/mini-saga-57-smart/#ixzz1H94ZjLtW

    John was arrogant probably because he was the smartest of the lot. When he was rejected, he was shaken. He ate the humble pie and asked for feedback. The hiring manager simply said, “We are fine with a talent of 7. We just want someone with an attitude of 10″.

    (Mini Sagas are stories in exactly 50 words)