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The Heretic is a free dispatch delivering insights into what it takes to lead into & in the unknown. For entrepreneurs, corporate irritants and change makers. Raw, unfiltered and opinionated.

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Jun 3rd, 2013 Share: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn

Employee Number One

Woo! You made it — you are about to hire your first employee. And now you start asking yourself: What shall I look for in my first hire and how does she fit into the larger picture?

First of all — and this is a rule which you should always obey: Hire only people who are smarter than you are (at least in the area you hire them for). Your most important job as a founder is to a) keep the lights on and b) hire an absolutely amazing team.

Too many founders hire either arbitrarily, are afraid of hiring people who are “too smart” or hire people based mostly on sympathy.

Then you want to look for team and cultural fit. This can be tricky (and something I should write more about in the future) as you want to strike the balance between harmony and constructive discourse on the other side.

Too many teams end up being clones, where everyone on the team has the same background, the same world view, the same gender, ethnicity and cultural upbringing.

Lastly I don’t believe in hierarchy. There is no difference between founders and employees. You all sit in the same boat (which is usually sinking unless you all get working together).

Go and hire the most amazing people you can find. Let them work on the really hard problems. Give them plenty of authority. They will constantly surprise you with their solutions, their ability to get shit done and their intrinsic motivation to be successful. And if they don’t — find someone else. You can’t afford to shuffle them along. Life is too fast in a startup.

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