Very thought provoking post & really like your this line "its in our DNA to feel like we can do everthing" it suits me well, though I'm not a CEO just an employee but on a verge to start a business & I feel it in my dna from now onwards only that I can do everything, which can't be possible. Hiring smart people is good but what about when they themselves shows us their back & begins to be our rivals.
Re: The phrase I use internally a lot is "Trust and Defer".
I have a better one!
“Inspect what you expect.”
Outline what you expect others to do and… then checkup to make sure it’s getting done CORRECTLY.
Refine, refine, refine…
PS - credit to Anita Campbell for that quote.
I think the biggest challenge is to create a pool of talented people and providing a nourishing environment to them.
Ivan - I could be wrong, but I thought the quote "It's not what you EXpect, it's what you INSpect" is attributed to Lou Gerstner. No?
Anyhow - love this article. As a pre-funded startup, we are still struggling with the line "...you should find someone to fill that role if you have the resources" because that's a big IF. But I would submit that it's critical for a CEO to create a financial/biz plan that removes the IF from that equation. Figure out what others should be doing and make sure you can get the resources.
Thank you for this quality article.
Great article but I totally agree with Ivan's comment re inspecting what you expect...particulary customer relations and financial aspects.
Regarding this statement: "Find People Smarter Than Yourself"
This is a lot harder than it sounds. The largest issue I see with fulfilling this is the ability for talent recognition. If you do not have the ability to do well in a certain area, what makes you think you know the right things to look for when making a decision to hire certain talent.
I'm grappling with this right now. I fear hiring someone who ends up being a dud, and I fear not being able to manage people properly. Anybody have any great resources with concrete advice for learning how to 1) find smart multi-hat independent non-techies for a virtual start-up 2) properly manage said personnel?
Good article. I would like to add:
Review and Revise. On a regular schedule - every 6 months. Often forgotten, or pushed aside because other things seem more important. Give this priority and make a habit of it. It will catch issues before they become problems. Esp cash flow problems.
Get one or two good mentors, no matter how well seasoned you may be. It is nice to know there is someone in your corner. People that are outside of your business also have a different perspective of it. They can be an excellent resource and sounding board. They may see things you can't because you are too close or lack experience in a certain area. A mentor may not always agree with you and is not afraid to tell you, which is a good quality to have access to.
Buck, perhaps two part time people who excel in their specific areas might be better than having to rely on one person for everything. Send me an eMail.
Great posting that will be very helpful, thank you! Currently I am in start-up of a vertical niche social platform, right now it's all about bootstrapping and enjoy being in control of every aspect of building the foundation.
However, when we start to grow will be referring back to this article and remembering to "let go".
And I am already anticipating growth and hiring people so looking out for people that are extremely talented and smart, hoping one day to recruit them. I think they will be extremely excited about our vision and unique business model, we will see in a year from now!
My wise Mother told me to hang around people who are smarter than yourself. Then comes the Trust. This can happen when good leadership is in place.
"You can't do it all yourself" is so true even from day 1. I've found key, core folks with non-overlapping skillsets. Already been hurt by poor people choices but better to let go and move on.
"If" is tough as a completely bootstrapped startup so sharing equity with the early people is key and benefits me to have a successful company, even as my ownership stake shrinks more and more because of it. I figure that it's better to have a small part of a successful company (because it does take a village afterall) than 100% of a failed project.
For Henry, I may not do well in certain areas but having worked for many companies, I do know what they are suppose to do and what knowledge base/speciality to look for (e.g. finance and accounting are not the same). This is where mentors or advisors would really be helpful.
Buck, managing is not easy and frankly, one of the easiest to mess up (taking people for granted for one) but constant communication (not easy), clear objectives (not easy either), respect, trust, and the ability to admit to your own mistakes is a good place to start. Everyone makes mistakes but I've found it's how you respond to those mistakes (be they your own or someone elses) that will determine your ultimate success (learn and grow versus withdraw or be angry).
I feel like we are oh-so-close to landing our first contract but even then, there'll be a lot more ahead to learn, adapt, and move forward, all in spite of my constant fears. Haven't gotten to the "it will hurt" phase yet but if being there is because there's strong momentum, than somehow I'm sure the hurt will be short-lived. :)
Anyway, my two cents.
This is sound advice and wish I had this when I was starting up and running my prior businesses.
this is such valuable and simple methodology. I wish more people would think this way than what really happens.
Right on! Having been a serial CEO and working with early stage entrepreneurs, couldn't agree more. For more on the art of being a startup CEO, see http://bit.ly/cZZro9
Im currently working for a boss and he is struggling to let go of the creative department, and he told us that it's not easy to do so, because the business is still in a growing phase. (If it wasnt, Idve been worried) But yes, he probably thinks, it'll stop growing if he lets go
There is a blurry line between "perseverance" and "cutting losses" - knowing how to choose the right one is what makes a great CEO.
Google's CEO Shakeup: Why Pick Larry Page?
One tip I would like to add to is "not to grow apart as company grows". Though it is not possible for a CEO to meet everyone in the company, usually a CEO stops meeting everyone (mostly) on the lowest levels. It means that there is now a chasm between the organization layers.
Your suggestions are very useful.
Absolutely true and essential to find great people. As a non-technical founder and CEO of http://Yapsie.com, I think Fred Wilson said it best:
"A CEO does only three things. Sets the overall vision and strategy of the company and communicates it to all stakeholders. Recruits, hires, and retains the very best talent for the company. Makes sure there is always enough cash in the bank."
What's more is that it is important to be involved in each of those particular processes and not deferring them to other people. Great post and I look forward to reading more!
I don't agree. In general, your A players will hire other A players because they do not fill threatened by others and would in fact, want to be surrounded by folks smarter than themselves. It's your B and C players you have to worry about - they will be concerned about looking incompetent.
Wonderful perspectives that all entrepreneurs and founders can learn from. It is great of you to share them.
As a Venture partner at OpenView we spend time with founders like yourself and as you mention in your blog... founders don't scale so you have to build out the management team and you want to hire people smarter than yourself as you do that.
Also as you stated you have to make sure you have the vision set because all the new people who join the company have to buy into the vision for the team to reach it's goals and have alignment around execution to achieve the goals and meet the vision.
All the best and keep sharing!
Finding people smarter than yourself is a good one. You will only progress if you surround yourself with talented individuals that can compliment your skill set and also sharpen it.
I AGREE WİTH hANRY "I don't agree. In general, your A players will hire other A players because they do not fill threatened by others and would in fact, want to be surrounded by folks smarter than themselves. It's your B and C players you have to worry about - they will be concerned about looking incompetent."
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In other words, if you're a control freak, you won't be a good CEO.
And hiring someone's who's better than you takes guts and a lot of self-confidence!