Team, team, TEAM. No matter how you write it it’s a simple concept and really important to a startup. I knew when I started my little venture that I wanted to build a team that I could get excited about working with every day and it’s been an interesting ride. Suffice it to say I’m still spending a lot of effort on team building.
Capabilities are important, but not that important. People can always learn what they need to. What I’m really looking for is fit. A big part of B-school, especially at Foster, is developing leadership which includes understanding what type of leader you want to be. I want to be a leader that has the vision to know where we need to go and the humanity to build a work environment that makes people enjoy the journey. But like any leader I struggle to answer the question, how do you find and cultivate relationships with people that complement your style to create a company that is more than it’s sum?
If you’ve worked with me you know that I like to think about stuff. New stuff, new ways of doing old stuff, ways to make old stuff new again – you get where I’m going. It’s in playing out scenarios and talking through issues that I’m best able to process potential opportunities and set direction. In my experience, I’ve come to realize there are 3 types of people: the pessimist that’s already too busy or too set in their ways to get excited about something new, the yes-man (or woman) who thinks everything they hear is terrific, and the can-do person who pushes back to understand the issues at play and adds value to the evaluation process. One of the most important aspects of these can-do people is that they don’t just appreciate the idea but that they’re excited to tackle it – this is HUGE in a startup, especially one as lean as ours.
I’ve heard guest speakers in class talk about how they hire talent even if they don’t have an immediate role for them, I think my version will be “I hire can-do.”
If you want to get involved with a startup and you’re full of can-do I want to hire* you. (*Disclaimer, our startup is bootstrappy poor right now so we’re not looking to hire but we are looking to conduct 3-6 months “interviews” with the potential to earn what will likely be below-market wages doing awesome things with our firm at it’s conclusion.)