- One of the differences between a passionate employee and an obsessed employee is the way that they approach the work that they're doing. An obsessed employee cares a lot about the output of the work and they're very, very focused on making sure that the thing that they're doing and the thing that they're working on is done extremely well and relevant for the context of the business. A passionate employee generally is somebody who's fun to be around, is enthusiastic about what's going on, but isn't that focused on the actual underlying work product.
And the best employees are the ones who are both passionate and obsessed, but the difference between that if you had to choose between somebody who is really obsessed about the work that they were doing and sort of emotionally neutral, at least in the external sense, and somebody who is extremely passionate about what they were doing, but wasn't very focused on the what the work product, who would you choose? I think you'd generally choose the obsessed one. There's another dimension that's really useful to think about, which is this graph where on the Y axis you have Competence and on the X axis you have what often is called Culture Fit, but I'll call Culture Add.
In this context, you have sort of low to high and low to high. So somebody that you're looking to add that is high on the Culture Add characteristic and high on the Competence characteristic for the role that they're looking for is somebody that you should absolutely hire. Somebody who's low on both of those is someone you shouldn't hire. The challenge are not those two boxes, it's the other two boxes. What if the person is high on the Culture Add characteristic, but is low on the Competence? You probably won't hire them.
In fact I would argue, you shouldn't hire them. Even if you think that they might be able to evolve into a role that makes sense for them, as a startup you don't have the resources to do that. You're just too constrained. How 'about the opposite? Somebody who's really competent and, you know, you look at him and you're like, "Wow, this person would be great" "for this particular activity," but you think about them in the context of your cultural norms and you think to yourself, "Man, they're just going to be toxic." "They're going to argue with everybody." "Nobody's going to like 'em." "They have a completely different style." "Their value system is different." "What their aspirational goals are are different." That fit and that dynamic is also one where you shouldn't hire the person, especially when you're really young because that person will beget other people and that'll start to affect your cultural norms.
Now again, this notion of Cultural Add is an important one versus Cultural Fit. If you use the idea of Cultural Fit as the container you're going to have a lot of people that are going to be really additive to what you're doing, but you're going to count as not being part of it because they're not going to be part of your Cultural Fit. They don't look like you do. They don't have the same background that you do. They don't necessarily have, sort of, the same way of talking about things, but if they're Culture Add none of those things are part of your evaluative criteria. Right? You're looking for diversity. You're looking for people with different backgrounds and frames of reference.
You're looking for people with different experience. What you're looking for though is that they subscribe to your cultural norms. So whatever that underlying value system that you're establishing in the context of your company is one that they conform to. So if you think about those different frames of reference, right, you're really looking for people in that top right box, which are people that have high Competence and have high Cultural Add, which is a subscription to your cultural norms but allow you to extend the business. They're people who really care about what the outcome of what they're doing is and, while it's bonus points if they're super enthusiastic everyday about what they're doing, it doesn't mean that that's the requirement in terms of how they express themselves.
- Define “shiny object syndrome.”
- Identify your customer’s pain.
- Determine the scalability of a product.
- Recall the best time to initiate customer acquisition.
- Review the differences between a passionate employee and an obsessed employee.
- Recognize the benefits of domain experience when building a founding team.