“As a start-up founder, what three soft skills do you look for most when hiring a new team member? “
The three most important soft skills I look for when hiring a new team member are: team first mentality, ability to work under pressure or within deadline constraints, and communication. You need team members who understand the big picture and operate by doing what is best for the business as a whole. Startups need to move quickly and having team members who can meet deadlines and work under pressure is an absolute necessity. Finally, communication is essential to getting a business off the ground. You need team members who are capable of articulating their opinions, as well as accurately relaying information from others.
What is one email rule you live by that saves you hours every week? (Example: Batching responses, using a certain app, etc.)
Email is the single largest hinderance to productivity. I set aside 1 hour a day to focus on email. That’s it.
Remember, when you live in your inbox, you’re focusing your energy on accomplishing what OTHER people want you to get done instead of what is most imperative for your business.
Inbox zero is not something that you should strive for. Whenever I hear someone say that they are an ‘Inbox Zeroer’ I think to myself ‘Wow, I wonder how much more productive this person could have been if they weren’t putting all of their effort into clearing out their inbox’.
Instead, focus on what you need to get done to drive your business forward and stop wasting time on what other people are asking you to focus on. You know what your business needs better than anyone else. Trust yourself, and execute!
In the next 5 years, what piece of technology do you think will be totally outdated for businesses to be using and why?
I think email is the single biggest time waster in companies today. There has been much innovation to make email more efficient, however I believe that email is broken at its core. It just simply is not a productivity tool and I’m willing to bet that within 5 years it will be phased out for another tool or technology that provides the same level of communication in a more efficient manner.
Even entrepreneurs get burnt out. What is one tried and true tip you have for avoiding this?
Starting a business is hard, grueling work. I can’t stress the importance of regular exercise enough. You must stay healthy if your business is going to have any chance of succeeding. The other important component is to have partners you can depend on. Everyone gets burned out eventually, so you need to have cofounders you can lean on and are capable of sticking it out and sharing the burden through tough times. It’s a team effort, and just like any sports team your top players don’t always have great games. When that happens it helps to have other players step up and carry the team.
What is the best lesson you have learned personally from founding your company so far?
The first couple hires you make for your company are super important. They will set your company culture and create the foundation for which your entire organization will be based. You cannot build a solid business on a shaky foundation. Find great people and surround yourself with them!
If you had to pick just one, what book do you wish was required reading for your entire staff and why?
The best business book I’ve ever read is the E-myth by Michael Gerber. The E Myth teaches entrepreneurs how to think about building their business so that they can turn their company into a well structured, systemized business. I truly believe too many entrepreneurs do not follow the advice in this book, which is why 80% of startups fail
What is your no. 1 strategy for recruiting/retaining top talent?
No two companies are the same. If you want to recruit and retain top talent, then find people who have the skills you need, but are also passionate about the work you are doing. I always look for people who have the ‘fire in the belly’ for our technology or space. This often leads to employees who enjoy their work more and are more difficult for other companies to poach.