Those who choose to be here
Tendencies of top talent
TLDR: Only hire people who are here by choice, who are self-reliant, and who are playing long-term games.
Building world-class teams is a superpower.
I’ve made a terrible hire or two, but I’ve also made some game-changing ones as well.
The game-changers have a key set of similarities, but maybe most notably is that they’re here by choice.
As hiring managers, there’s often an implicit imposter syndrome—“can I really get that person to take this job?”
And for that reason, we often sell ourselves and our companies short.
My best hires share a few key traits:
They’re self-reliant. I call them “autonomous autodidacts,” or the winners
They’re long-term people. Naval says to “play long-term games with long-term people.” Different than #3, this is about character, not performance or potential
They’re here by choice. They see the long-term vision, they see the growth trajectory, and pursuing the role is about the potential not the present
And since I’ve already written about #1, and Naval has you covered on #2, I want to talk about #3.
There’s something called The Peter Principle.
It essentially states that the best employees are promoted until they reach a level of incompetence, and then become ineffective.
Think of the management layers of your company—it’s likely those that seem ineffective were once all-stars in previous roles.
But then compare that with those who take a pay cut or a perceived step back to join you and your team.
The ones who “downshift to accelerate.”
These are the ones who are here by choice. They see the potential of the business, the long-term trajectory, and they aren’t optimizing for that small raise or meaningless title change.
At LinkedIn we used a graph to illustrate this concept as “success over time.”
I am sure it’s published somewhere, but it’s a simple idea:
If you look at your career on a graph of success over time, most everyone in the business world is on a predictable escalator—an annual pay increase, a promotion once in a while, a job change, etc.
Many fear the risk, or fail to see long-term potential in the opportunities that are presented.
But when you join a business with rocket ship trajectory, that career curve bends upward into something more exponential, and your career growth starts to mirror the growth of the company.
Those that are here by choice not only recognize these opportunities, they seek them out.
Our job as hiring managers and leaders is to develop and share a vision that is a magnet for world-class talent. To shed the imposter syndrome, and inspire others to join you—to forego that raise or title bump in favor of playing long-term games.
When this happens, you won’t know if it was the company’s trajectory or the caliber of talent that made the difference, but it won’t matter, and it was likely both.
I was reminded of this the past two weeks as the Antler team gathered in Lisbon for our Partner Summit.
If you’re based in the US, you may not have heard of Antler yet, or know the team very well, but you will soon. If you click-through the names to their LinkedIn profiles you will see former billion-dollar founders, ex-partners from firms like McKinsey and Goldman Sachs, former C-level executives, and advisors who have led multi-national public companies.
They are all here by choice.
Developing a culture of high octane and high caliber people innately sets the bar higher. Together, it creates a personal sense of responsibility to achieve uncomfortably ambitious goals, and it develops a sense of conviction and momentum that cannot be matched.
It’s a competitive edge.
So whether you’re hiring or not, whatever you are working on this Memorial Day, I’d implore you to figure out what you are best at, identify the fastest growing environment where those skills are valued, take the long-term view, and be the kind of person who is here by choice.
Your personal impact will be greater and the return on your time will be immeasurable.
See you Monday.