“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” ~ Isaac Newton.
In reviewing Chapter 4 of “The Founder’s Dilemmas” as well as Chapter 1 of “How to Hire A-Players”, we are forced to realize that although we may be the founding owner the success of the company will almost always be the results of people other than us. We may have the idea and the road map but as we do not have all the resources, we will need to find them in the efforts and talents of others. We should also conclude that the best people are most likely already tied to other careers or efforts that demand their attention. Whether we are looking for employees, partners, advisors, or investors, they will be a part of the founding team and just may become the largest influence on the long term success of our start-up.
Noah Wasserman (“The Founder’s Dilemmas”) states that “Core Founders should consciously analyze and decide which capabilities they need and then actively pursue people with those skills and abilities.” This certainly takes a well thought out business road map and understanding of what is needed and lacking. To understand what resources are needed and what talents currently may not be held from anyone currently inside the start-up will certainly take some honest and humble measurements of who we are as well as any other already established founding members. As Eric Herrenkohl mentions in “How to Hire A-Players”, we can not make giants out of midgets and that the best coaches are the best recruiters. We must realize that we will not have the time to teach nor may have the talent to teach what our start-up is needed; thus, it is up to us to identify and recruit the very best out of the gate.
If we also consider Herrenkohl’s statement, “Nothing has a bigger impact on the results of your business and the quality of your life than hiring and keeping A players”Then the pressure mounts as we begin to understand the magnitude of the decisions of who we recruit and who we allow into our company will weigh on our future success as well as lifestyle. He references Bill Gates and how he believes that Microsoft was built around fewer than 20 people and concludes that Bill became one of the richest people of the world because of the talent of these 20 people. Certainly, a great testament of the importance of hiring and recruiting A Players. If Bill Gates needed 20, what would the value of us finding just one be? In many ways, I am sure the positives are immeasurable.
So naturally we may want to start with our closest of friends, family or even associates who we may have worked with in the past. Wasserman warns greatly against homogeneity within teams as similarity within the team will affect the dynamic of the founder’s ability to make and act upon the decisions they make. He states that it may be “natural but wrong to assume that trust in relationships developed in the social realm will transfer easily to the professional realm. Social and professional relationships have very different foundations and operate in very different, often conflicting ways.” This brings back the importance of social capital as finding these resources outside of our “natural market” may be a necessity. Herrenkohl mentions many times how hiring an A player can greatly add to your personal life in taking stress’s off you and mentions that “Even one A player can help you to build a great business and have a full and satisfying life outside of work.” He even references divorce, and this hits home to me as I am working together with my wife in our company. However, I conclude that even if a family member or close friend may un dauntedly an A-Players it may be the correct decision for all to keep them from the founding of the business or at least at a safe and defined distance as our relationship may skew attention, honestly, and ultimately business profitability. I may not have this option with my wife being involved but it does bring some reality to our situation.
As founders, our role is to always seek the truth and understand the reality behind our needs and decision. We must be great recruiters, but we also be calculated and have a strategic road map to understand what we are recruiting for. Understanding dynamics as well as the influence that relationships will have upon our business for the long term. As we look to increase profitability and influence the value of our business, we can not have blinders on that others may be able to see clearly. Now…where do we find giants?
Wasserman, N. (2012). The Founders Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup. Princeton Univ Press.
Herrenkohl, E. (2010). How to hire A-players finding the top people for your team – even if you dont have a recruiting department. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.