At one time I thought the most important thing was talent. I think now that — the young man or the young woman must possess or teach himself, train himself, in infinite patience, which is to try and to try and to try until it comes right. He must train himself in ruthless intolerance. That is, to throw away anything that is false no matter how much he might love that page or that paragraph. The most important thing is insight, that is … curiosity to wonder, to mull, and to muse why it is that man does what he does. And if you have that, then I don’t think the talent makes much difference, whether you’ve got that or not.

William Faulkner

Some thoughts on company culture (continued)

I’ve written a fair amount about company culture in the past on this blog. But it’s been awhile and thought I would add a few thoughts from some recent conversations.

It’s an understatement to say that hiring is tough as a startup.

Not only do you have to find someone with passion & intelligence but you have to match for chemistry. And of course you need to be able to compensate them appropriately.

In the current market, big technology companies are able to offer massive salary/equity packages. Not every company does this and clearly not every employee receives it. But the most high demand folks are able to attract outsized offers from a small number of companies that are hiring aggressively. 

How can a startup compete under those economic terms. 

The good news/bad news: they can’t. 

As a young company there is no reasonable way to economically “out bid” Google or Facebook. So don’t try. 

One founder half joked remarked to me recently: “hey there is a reason these companies have to offer such massive packages. otherwise people wouldn’t want to work there.”

So if you can’t outbid, then how do you do it.

In my mind the only way to successful recruit & retain awesome people is if they belief in the people (ie founders), the mission, the product…..and most often the company culture. 

At our recent CEO summit, Chip Conley spoke about the importance of company culture. He cited many powerful examples and stories.

One of the ways he described company culture is “how does your team and employees behave when the ‘boss’ isn’t around”. 

Every company has their own culture. It doesn’t come from a hokey mission statement. Rather it comes from how a company behaves, how they treat their people, how they treat their investors, how they treat their products and how they treat their customers.