No Shortcuts - People are Everything

When you are starting something from scratch you are already fighting the odds.  You need to build something that solves for a consumer need, get word out about it and then have them pay their hard earned money for it.  That is a hard task in this day and age with so much vying for the consumers attention.  

In order to make it you need A LOT going for you.  One thing that can't be valued enough are the people on the journey with you.  Having the best people increases the likelihood that you can solve everything that needs to be solved and make it.  Having mediocre or bad people severely handicaps what you need to accomplish and can singlehandedly sink the ship. 

This isn't a new thing in the business world, but the more I see the more I appreciate how hard it is to find those amazing people you need.  When you look at a resume and see where people went to school and their experiences its just scratching the surface on whether they are who you really need.  Sometimes the people who have the best resumes are actually the worst people.  They are doing things to build THEIR resume and don't have the loyalty and work ethic for YOUR business. 

Below are some things that I see as critical to getting the right people.  This is also helpful if you want to be in a position to be one of those right people. 

EQ vs IQ:  I read Danny Meyer's great book 'Setting the Table'.  He likes to hire 51%ers.  People who have 51% EQ and 49% IQ.  So people who are kind, empathetic, self aware and overall great to work with.  He believes the technical skills (IQ) can be learned, but the high EQ people are the ones that are the ones that create the positive culture and have the soft skills to make work enjoyable.  Too many people who are all IQ can be cold, calculated and not bring enough emotion to the work.  When you're on the startup journey you need to be working overall with people who are enjoyable and you feel good going to war with. 

Work Ethic:  The odds are stacked against you.  You need to do everything in your power to claw your way to success.  You cannot do that working 9 to 5.  I read Sam Walton's book (Made in America) and that guy was tireless....and picked people who were tireless.  He had his staff meet EVERY Saturday morning to review the weeks results and figure out how they could do better.  He arrived at the meeting at 3am to start preparing for it.  EVERY Saturday.  That is intense....but that's what it takes.  You need people so loyal and devoted to the cause that they will stretch themselves.  Work late.  Think about solutions in their free time.  Someone just in it to get a name on a resume is not willing to push hard enough.  

Perseverance:  You will have more losses in this processes than wins.  Likely way more losses than wins.  That is how it works when you start.  Will your team roll over?  Will they be afraid of competition?  Will they buckle under pressure and bring down the team?  I like to tie perseverance and growth mindset together.  Someone who is seeking to grow and learn takes losses and learnings.  The losses sting, but the right people stop and want to figure out how they can adjust and get better.  People who don't have growth mindsets have excuses.  It was Steve's fault.  The agency we used was bad.  The product wasn't good enough.  Its the blame game and these people drag everyone down.  You spend too much energy dealing with them versus on solving the problem.  

You can see that its hard to see these traits on a resume.  That is why its important to get to know people.  Ask them deeper questions.  Understand the core of who they are.  Bringing on people too quickly without getting deep can result in a total mess.  And the journey becomes more of a complete pain in the ass versus a fun journey with comrades.  

Do not underestimate people.  It is done too easily now and people are just seen as replaceable.  Value them and bring in the RIGHT people.