Anyone that knows me is well aware that I am a startup guy. I am also unable to intentionally “half-ass” anything as I am not wired for that. Since before my career started, I never envisioned a day where I wouldn’t be adding value or putting in 110%. This is both a curse and a blessing but I don’t know how to function in any other way. Being a startup guy doesn’t always mean that the same sort of entrepreneurialism couldn’t be applied to an established company. It’s all about the mentality. Nothing motivates me more than the thrill, challenge, turmoil, defeat and potential success that a brilliant new idea brings to the table. Sitting on the proverbial crate, wearing multiple hats, putting in exhaustive effort and hours is what gets my blood flowing. Acting as a player/coach is exciting and rewarding. It develops skills and a tough skin like no other test in the business world. It builds character and separates the men from the boys. I consider these experiences to be the quintessential life lessons that could easily be applied to all parts of my world. The natural emotions coupled with applicable logic that come out of such tests are what drive most, if not all, of my decisions day to day…especially when it comes to recruiting. Having hired over a hundred positions in my career, I know that I may not be a writer or a philosopher, but I am good at what I do and would like to take this opportunity to share what qualifies a real player for me.
Let me start by saying that I have read countless articles lately from all sides of the game. From those that think like me to those that don’t. From those that believe in work/life balance to those that work to live. I am sensitive to all sides of the argument and respect the various decisions that people make. Sometimes out of choice and sometimes out of necessity. I’d also like to give credit where credit is due so if any of this sounds familiar, it’s because it sticks in my mind as excellent points that others have made. Different things motivate different people. Everyone deserves family time, vacations, holidays, etc. and I am not punishing those that have reached this point in their career. To say that this is a tough market would be the understatement of the century. Rather than dwelling on what you need to succeed, I’d instead like to highlight the visible differences between those that get it and those that don’t. I won’t use the standard cliches or terminology and won’t bother mentioning much of the obvious except where applicable. Aside from having the required skill set, this applies to all disciplines, experience levels, positions and generally all candidates with an entrepreneurial mindset. To some, this could be mildly offensive. To others, this could be an eye-opener. Hopefully this insight is helpful and if nothing else, could allow readers to step inside my busy head.
Those that get it are:
- Human. They are not presenting a false front or a polished and over-rehearsed pitch. They are not robotic or canned in their responses. Their natural personality is what sells their credibility. Their discussions are not forced or otherwise awkward and they are allowed to convey emotion. They make for a comfortable conversation and a trusted team dialogue. They appear likeable and honest. They are not the product of textbook hints or career-counseled fluff. They are attentive, their eyes show interest and their demeanor is inviting. They are able to show you that they get it through their tone, gestures and general comprehension of the need. They know whether or not they’ve made a connection in the first five minutes.
- Driven. Their entire existence is fueled by ideas. Every life issue has a potential undiscovered solution and they believe that there’s an idea around the corner to solve for it. They are relentlessly connected to their interests, industry, news, communication channels, etc. Their communication device of choice is constantly on them and they feel lost without it. They need to feel organized. Every day, social event, person they meet is a potential opportunity. They qualify everything constantly and tend to gravitate towards excitement and progress. They are not motivated by mediocrity and despise the 9 to 5’er concept and mentality. They work constantly, tirelessly and intelligently fully believing that there is potential gain and upside in everything. They know that they are unhappy or otherwise unfulfilled if they are not moving at lightspeed.
- Closers. Their entire contact list is a two-sided rolodex consisting of those that matter and those that could matter. At any given moment they are selling either themselves or an idea. Similar to the driven characteristic, they believe that opportunities are endless and the larger the network, the larger the potential. They are intentionally and consciously ADD. They are stone cold killers and always translate the word “no” into “maybe”. They are not afraid to ask uncomfortable questions like “why?” and even less afraid of answering uncomfortable questions. They know everyone or want to meet them immediately. They are pure offense and know how and when to stimulate their team’s defense. Their primary motivation is financial gain through numbers/volume and they know when they no longer need you to be able to eat.
The common element among all of these “get it” types is that they get it done nomatter where, when or how. They are not slackers, they don’t settle for excuses and despise the “it’s not my responsibility” mentality. They never piss in your ear and tell you it’s raining. They are consummate cheerleaders and diligent executioners. They celebrate group victories and push onward through group failures. They live, learn, translate and re-execute as often as possible. They are rare but they are out there and I strive to meet more of them every single day.