Sunday, January 15, 2006

Part One: The Best People

Ok, I am a terrible blogger. I am currently averaging about 1 post every 5 months. Not exactly prolific :) I guess I have been busily travelling the world at an exhausting pace, meeting with the world's leading telecom operators working on future communications solutions for consumers. Maybe I have been lazy. Of course, The truth is somewhere in between.

Why write tonight? Well, I have some time on my hands, having resigned from Critical Path. I am going to be doing a lot less travel and expect to be working on new challenges soon. So I have some time to reflect on the past, and this will be the first in a series (we'll see how I do...).

I have had the privelege of working with some great people in the last decade. People whom I circled the globe with, sometimes doing so in 3 days, stopping in New York, London, Dubai, Delhi, Hong Kong, LA and then back home. Crazy. People whom I would look at at 2am, still working on a release, thinking that there is no one else I would rather have with me. Insane. People whom I would work with every night in our San Francisco office until the wee hours of the morning, with impending doom on the horizon, just to ensure things survived. There are tons of stories to tell...

I've worked with truly great people whom I would love to work with again someday.

I've also had the experience of working with some average people, and even some not so average. I've worked in large teams, small teams, cross-functional teams, cross-company teams....I've laid off hundreds, hired senior executives, vp's, directors, managers. It's been a busy decade but I indicative of the times - the boom, bust, re-bust, and echo. Cliche, I know.

1. Most people are average or below average performers. It's ridiculous, but true. Then again, think about it. If you're like me, you went to university with tonnes of smart folks- all people at the top of their class in high school. All people with 'potential'. How many of those did you think were brilliant by the end of your undergrad? By the end of grad school? In the workforce? All in all, we're talking about small percentages...The majority are average.

2. The best people are worth 10 average people. These people are rare. Very rare.

3. The best people stick together. Why not? If you're one of these people....why work with a group of less than enlightened people? You want to work with people like you, and people that can help you, that you can learn from and people you can have fun with. The best people want to win, and they will seek out situations with groups of people where they can win.

4. The best people are very smart. Natural Talent. They don't have to work super hard at it. They get there faster. They take less energy. They run the numbers - in their heads. They listen. They're wrong - not a lot....but they are wrong from time to time, but generally right when it counts.

5. The best people know what they are good at, and what they are not good at. Some of the best innovators I know know have great ideas, but couldn't sell their way out of a paper bag. The best people know their limits, and seek those who can help them.

6. The best people care. They are passionate about what they do, and the people they do it with. I'll take one person who gives a shit over 100 who don't. The Power of the'll know what I am talking about. The best people can sway the masses with their passion, their heart.

7. Attitude makes a huge difference. I've worked with talented folks with terrible attitudes who didn't accomplish much. They probably will never do so. Half Full....always better than Half Empty. Half Empty is a terrible way to go through life, and unfortunately it's poison. It's toxic. You can't have half-emptiers around. Not many, at least....Hopefully not any.

8. The best people can't get it done alone. See above. They need to be part of teams. They bring other people up. I always come back to my favourite hockey team of all time - the Edmonton Oilers. Gretzky, Kurri, Messier - pretty awesome. Then there was Tikkanen, Lowe, Anderson....I could go on. These guys formed a great team - a team for the ages. The 'best' didn't carry the others, they elevated them. Wayne didn't win those cups - The Oil did.

9. You don't need an army. I would take a team of 5 greats over a team of 50 averages any day. I would also rather wait a year to get the 6th person - to get the right sixth - instead of hiring 5 more averages the next day.

10. There is a ton of noise out there. CV's / Resumes / Google searches/ Blogs/ Contractors / Recruiters....There is so much talent in the market that isn't worth the price of admission. Way too much. I've seen amazing resumes, heard about great first impressions, pedigree. Even if they come from a recruiter - remember, the majority is average - and there are very few out there who are truly great.

The Best People - seek them out & get them on your team. Build a great team. The best people will then find you. Repeat.

The best part of the last 10 years has been the people I have met and worked with. No question about it. Engineers, Marketers, Sales people, Investors, Board members, Customers, Partners.....People. The best ones made my life so much richer, so much more fun and successful. Companies and products come and go. People generally last longer. Find the great ones, and keep them close.