How to Hire the Right People

Kareem started last week last week as the COO of Simplero, and I couldn't be more excited.

I went through a very specific process to make the hire, very much inspired by Danny Iny at Firepole Marketing, and I'd like to share that process with you here.


Before you begin, you need to know who you're looking for. Create an avatar. Really envision what it's going to be like working with this person, what will it look like day-to-day, what will it feel like. This helps you identify what exactly you're looking for.

I worked with the Wealth Dynamics profile. It's the best personality test I've found to date. I'm a Creator, which means I'm excellent at coming up with ideas, I love to reinvent things that don't need reinventing, I'm an incurable time optimist, I'm not good with details or finances, and my head is up in the clouds and I don't really care about (or have any talent for) keeping my fingers on the pulse of the marketplace. I'm halfway between introvert and extravert.

According to Roger Hamilton from Wealth Dynamics, your first hire should be someone with a profile two steps to clockwise from you. For me that would be a Supporter, which makes perfect sense. So I made it a strict criteria that my COO would be a Supporter.

The first couple of candidates I got were people who were Creators, Mechanics, or even Lords. Those would have been disasters. Could you imagine another creator? That would just amplify all of my weaknesses. Or a mechanic? We'd both just tinker and tinker with stuff, but no-one would ever know about it. No, a supporter is definitely the right profile for me.

I've found that doing the inner work is really important too. I went to get some healing on the hiring process from my healer Holly Star, and I took time to investigate how my own self-worth  and communications lessons could mess this up, and make sure I did not let them interfece. I took time to visualize and feel into this stuff and release what needed to be released so I could move on.

Subtractive Synthesis

Most synthesizers (specifically subtractive synthesizers) work by first generating a basic sound through an oscillator (sine wave, square wave, sawtooth wave, etc.), and then applying various filters to remove the parts of the sound you don't want (highpass, lowpass, etc.), until you have the sound you do want.

Hiring works the same way.

First you gotta get high quality candidates into the funnel, then you have to keep screening away the folks that don't cut it, and then you're left with hopefully just a few candidates to pick from.

So it starts with sourcing the candidates. We placed ads on Indeed, Angellist, and a handful of other places, plus I started talking about to everyone I know.

Think of hiring as a marketing process, only this one is aimed at candidates, not customers. There's actually a lot to this thinking. Maybe you can make your customer acquisition process more like your hiring process, and your hiring process more like your customer acquisition process. There are some very interesting power dynamics at play between the two processes, typically.

Anyway, your ad is a piece of marketing copy, aimed at getting great candidates to apply. I took pains to write it personally and well, with my own tone, and to specifically use words and characteristics that would attract Supporters, and people who share the same values as me, and repel others.

Then comes screening. I had Amy Wright handle this part of the process for me. Amy has been great to work with. I would have gone absolutely bonkers had I had to do all of this work myself. So she'd review resumes, do an initial phone screening, and if they passed that, we'd ask them to take the Wealth Dynamics test. If they passed that, she'd hand them off to me for my interview.

Trusting My Intuition

During the interview process I got much better at trusting my gut. I'd know in just a few seconds whether this was a person I'd want to work this closely together with. In the beginning I'd just stay with the interview for 30 minutes or even longer, even though I "knew" it wasn't going to work.

Over time, I'd just take notice of the feeling in my gut, say it flat-out, and end the interview. "Listen, I've learned to trust my intuition, and my intuition is telling me this is not going to be a fit. Rather than waste your time and mine, let's just end it here." Invariable people would agree, they had the same feeling, and thank me for being so honest.

After passing the first interview, I'd meet with candidates for lunch. It would be more of a social thing than an actual interview, though we'd talk work stuff too, of course. Then I'd conduct a detailed behavioral interview and drill into any specific concerns I had at that point. And finally I met with Kareem and his wife for dinner with my wife, mainly so my wife Nomi, whose judgment I very much trust, could get a chance to meet him as well. Once that was done, and she confirmed my feeling, the deal was basically sealed.

I also had plans to ask them to perform an exercise. This is Danny's idea, and I love it. For example, if they're going to be writing articles, have them write a sample article. Something short but relevant. And here's the kicker: Then send it back with edits and ask them to make changes. This is not about the changes. It's about seeing how they react to taking directions.

The Hire

In the end, for the COO position, we didn't come up with anything relevant for an exercise, and in the end it didn't feel necessary. It's still a great tool to have in your arsenal, though.

I also administered the TKI Conflict Mode Instrument test. I know I can be pretty conflict-averse, so if I got someone in who was very overpowering, or also very conflict-averse, that could become a problem. At least I'd like to know where we stand with this.

Towards the end I also talked to references. At this point not so much for vetting, it was more to learn about how to best work with this person.

In the end, Kareem did not come in via any of the ads. He came through a referral. I went to a Marketing Meetup here in New York a couple of months ago, chatted with the organizer Richard, and then invited him to a party at my home a few weeks later. As an organizer of a marketing meetup, I figured he know a bunch of people, so I mentioned it to me. Two days later, he introduced me to Kareem, and that turned out to be the one.

Closing Thoughts

I hope this was useful to you. I used to think that I could do everything myself, and that I should somehow. It wasn't until about six months ago that I fully realized how futile that is. There are things that I'm great at and there are things that I suck at and/or just don't enjoy. Why not get some people on board who really love those things, and build a team that complements each other. It's so much more fun and enjoyable than having to do everything by myself.

Once I really got that, I made it my top priority to figure out how to hire and build a team. I read tons of books, talked to advisors, and got busy implementing.

I'm so glad I did. I know my life will never be the same. I'm so done going it alone.

From Creativity Comes Productivity
Common Business Sense


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