Hiring the right people for your Startup

Note: You can jump to Personality Plus Test here if you are already familiar with the four temperaments that are discussed below.

More and more companies are using Personality Tests to get the right people for the right positions. For example, if you are Technology Startup and hiring Developers, would you rather hire someone who is very talkative, extrovert, forgetful, not detail-oriented, doesn’t like to follow rules and regulations or someone who is calm, introvert, detail-oriented, persistent, thorough etc? I think the answer is obvious. But let’s say you were hiring a Sales Manager, I think again the answer would be obvious.. you wouldn’t choose an introvert for a Sales position.

The problem is, interview setting is a professional setting, so you don’t really see the real personality or the temperament of a person at interviews. Therefore, more and more companies are now starting to give Personality Tests to the candidates prior to the interview session. Knowing which temperaments are dominant in candidate’s personality will give you a better understanding of the candidate during the interview itself.

Personality Plus

One of such personality tests is Personality Plus which was created by Florence Littauer. It’s one of the popular ones among others, probably due to its straight-forwardness and easily understood nature.

She has divided people into four groups:

  • Choleric – considered to be leader and commander types, being dominant, strong, decisive, and occasionally arrogant. They tend to be good leaders because they are driven to get things done, however they might offend some people along the way. Cholerics are also known as the “Powerful” type. 

    Some famous examples are Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Phil, Phil Donahue, Donald Trump, Bill Gates and Bill O’Reilly.

  • Melancholy – described by Littauer to be the mental types, with their personality displaying a strong emphasis on thinking, evaluation, and assessment. Their typical behaviour involves thinking, assessing, making lists, evaluating the positives and negatives, and general analysis of facts. They love maps, charts and graphs. They are usually the most intelligent of the four types, however they tend to dwell on details. A Melancholy is a planner, making sure things happen, although sometimes they can paralyze themselves with over-analysis. Lists and “doing things the right way” are characteristics of this personality type. Melancholies are also known as the “Perfect” type. 

    Some famous examples are Hillary Clinton, Ernest Hemingway, Vincent Van Gogh and Beethoven.

  • Sanguine – is a social personality type, displaying characteristics such as a predisposition to socialize and entertain. They enjoy fun, socializing, chatting, telling stories – and are fond of promising the world, because that’s the friendly thing to do. A Sanguine gets on well with people and can get others excited about issues, but cannot always be relied upon to get things done. They love interacting with others and play the role of the entertainer or center of attention in group interactions. They have a tendency to over-promise and under-deliver. Sanguines are also known as the “Popular” type. 

    Some famous examples are Bill Clinton, Robin Williams, Kelly Ripa and Richard Simmons.

  • Phlegmatic – described as having a flat-type personality, being laid back and desiring a peaceful environment above all else. They are easy going, laid back, nonchalant, unexcitable and relaxed. Desiring a quiet and peaceful environment above all else. They tend not to actively upset people, but their indifference may frustrate people. They try not to make decisions, and generally go for the status quo. They are good as mediators because they don’t usually have many enemies. They also have a “dry” and quick sense of humor. Phlegmatics are also known as the “Peaceful” type. 

    Some famous examples are Calvin Coolidge, Tim Duncan, Sandy Koufax, and Keanu Reeves.

Four temperaments can further be grouped into two: Extroverts and Introverts. Sanguine & Cholerics are naturally extroverts, and Melancholy & Phlegmatics are naturally introverted people.

personality_plus

It’s important to note that, normally each person will have two temperaments, one dominant and another slightly less dominant. For example, your primary temperament could be Choleric, but your secondary temperament could be Melancholy.

Before you use personality tests in your hiring process. Go ahead and test your own personality with this Personality Plus Test that I have created. If you like it, please share it with others. Enjoy!

Jack Ma’s Advice to Entrepreneurs

Summary, with some paraphrasing;

  • Before 20 years old – be a good student, gain experience. This is the time to take risks, fail and learn from your experiences.
  • Before 30 years old – follow somebody, go to small company. Choose a good boss and not chase after a good company. You will learn a lot of things from good boss.
  • Between 30 – 40 years – this is the time to be an entrepreneur and be your own boss.
  • Between 40 – 50 years – do the things that you are good at, don’t try to learn new stuff at this age. Focus on things that you are good at.
  • Between 50 – 60 years – work for the  young people, rely on them, invest in them. Because young people can do better than you.
  • After 60 years old – enjoy the life, spend time with yourself and family.

Jack Ma’s regrets are – that he worked too hard and didn’t spend enough time with his family. And that if he had another chance, he wouldn’t live his life the same.

Motivation, Ability & Attitude

All things being equal, from my observation success or failure of a startup boils down to three main characteristics of its staff: Motivation, Ability & Attitude. This of course, first and foremost applies to the founder, followed by his/her team that supports him/her behind.

  1. Motivation – is the founder motivated to make his startup-idea a success? Is this his own idea that he is passionate about? Or was he put in charge of this startup by someone else (board, investors..)?

    Level of motivation that a founder has for his startup-idea plays a major role in the success of his startup.

  2. Ability – is he capable, both as a leader and a manager? Does he have the expertise in the field that his startup is operating? How is his execution skills? Is he a doer? Does he have the required experience?

    Well-roundedness is the key characteristic of able people – people who get things done. They understand and appreciate the different complexities of running a company. From product development to HR to Operations etc. And they are able to navigate through the many challenges and still get the things done.

  3. Attitude – does he have the right attitude towards the idea, the startup, the way startups normally operate in a chaotic environment, agile methodology, continuous improvement, continuous customer feedback…? Or is he a 9am – 5pm, corporate type of guy?

    Having a right attitude will produce a right behavior and vice versa. (Definition of an attitude: a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.)

    It’s hard to change attitudes, and often times it’s impossible to change settled attitudes. Therefore, it’s absolutely critical to have the right person as the founder from the beginning. Same goes to the hiring of team members. Most hiring managers tend to pay more attention to CV credentials than an attitude of a person, which I think is a big mistake.

Often times, people have different combination of these three. I hope that your founder has the highest scores in all three, namely; high motivation, strong ability and the right attitude in order to achieve a fully connected cycle to run your startup smoothly.

full_cycle

But realistically, it’s difficult to find an individual that has a fully connected cycle. And it’s more difficult to build a team that has the full-cycle as well.

disconnected_cycle

Conclusion

This is not some sort of management theory from MBA books. It’s just my personal observation throughout the years. Being both as an entrepreneur myself and an employee of startups and big corporation. I, now can see these three characteristics that are needed in the founder & the team to get a good idea turn into a successful startup.

What do you think?

Lean Startup: Applied Wrongly

Eric Ries who has popularized Lean Startup methodology has done an AMA on HackerNews. When he was asked “Are there examples of lean startup ideas going wrong or being misunderstood and leading startups straight to failure?

He had this to say:

“Tons! I think about this all the time, since I feel a responsibility to try and talk about lean startup in such a way that prevents misunderstanding.

I would say the three most fatal misapplications are:

  1. Up and to the right disease.
    Here you split-test everything and just do whatever moves the numbers. pretty soon you are selling porn or psychic hotlines.

  2. No vision, no problems error.
    It’s like trying to do science without a hypothesis. In lean startup we emphasize that people trying to predict the future are often wrong, so it’s best to experiment and pivot as you learn. But some people interpret this to mean that the future is unknowable, there’s no point in having any kind of vision, and you should just ship something and see what happens. the problem with this plan is you are guaranteed to succeed – at seeing what happens. after-the-fact rationalization will prevent any learning, because if you can’t fail you can’t learn. having a big expansive vision is really helpful because it provides lots of falsifiable hypotheses for testing.

  3. Minimum Viable Crapsloppy execution.
    Some people think MVP means just throw garbage at the wall and see what sticks, especially since the M makes people think lean startup is for doing something small. but the truth is if you’re doing something small, you don’t need MVP or lean startup. you only need an MVP if you’re trying something large. further, part of the MVP process is to learn what customers actually value in terms of quality, so we can build something that they perceive as excellent. shipping crap isn’t the goal, and people that go on TechCrunch with garbage and then claim “but it’s an MVP!” are doing it wrong. the hard truth is that spending more time “perfecting” a product in the absence of feedback often makes the product worse, not better.”

I can see the No3 in many startups. You can read the full AMA here.

Disruption in International Money Remittance is Imminent

Problem

As I tweeeted earlier, International Money Remitance has many pain points, main of them being the cost of sending money of course..

 


Solution

Below is one of the many solutions that will be coming up soon that will be built on top of free, transparent, public ledger technology called Blockchain. And money will be sent on the Blockchain platform via one of its main apps/features called Bitcoin.

Transaction fees are nearly $0 on the Blockchain, but service providers and apps might charge their own service fees. But these service fees won’t be like the ones above in my tweet for sure.

URLhttps://www.goabra.com

MailChimp’s Take on UX

Everyone knows how great MailChimp is at what it does. As a tech startup, they have achieved a lot and they are definitely one of the startups who are doing things the right way. So, it’s only natural that when UX team of Mailchimp releases a new eBook that everyone should read it.

It’s an easy read. It’s divided into major sections like: Collaboration, Research, Design, Development and Refinement. It’s written from their own perspective, so there are a lot insights into how MailChimp approaches things like building a functional team, creating conducive office environment, how each team do what they do etc . I’m sure everyone can find something beneficial in it. I did.

uxreader

Download the eBookhttp://theuxreader.com

Startups vs Corporations, and what happens in between

Why founders of startups get replaced by the board when the startup starts to grow fast? Why many startups fail to integrate into the parent company after the acquisition? And why big corporations struggle to launch a successful startup from within?

Concept of RPV

RPV stands for Resources, Processes and Valuves.

Resources

At the initial stage of a company, all you need are good and reliable people that can get the job done i.e resources. At this stage resources are crucial, if you have a web technology startup and happen to find a great coder and UX developer then you are in luck. On the other hand, if you happen to hire the wrong developer, you will have a tough time launching that MVP (minimum-viable-product) of yours. Similarly, if your lead developer leaves at this stage to a competitor startup, it can greatly affect your product and even your startup as a whole. But this is also the stage where it’s easiest to solve your company’s problems, because most of the problems will be related to resources and usually they can be settled by hiring a new guy or firing an existing employee.

Processes

When your startup is at the stage where it has a product or service that is selling like hot cakes, and you start hiring a lot more people to grow both your company and its revenue, that’s where the processes come in. That’s because you want your operations, customer service, support, billing etc to be run efficiently. That’s when you start to setup company wide processes, different processes for different teams and departments, KPIs (key-performance-indicators), SLAs (service-level-agreements), SOPs (standard-operating-procedures) etc. This is the stage when efficiency is most important to the company, because efficiency is directly related to company’s revenues.

rpv startup

Values

The final stage is when a particular startup has become an established corporation. At this stage “company values” are normally setup to guide the employees in their daily work, dealings and most importantly in decision making. Values are guiding principles that dictate how the company is run in all walks of its life. At this stage, while still important, resources won’t be as important as they were at the “resources stage”. Hiring and firing happens quite often. Individual opinions within the company doesn’t really have any weight unless the person is a c-level. Continue reading

Competition is for Losers

Peter Thiel is no stranger to Startup World. He is the co-founder of PayPal and investor in Facebook, Quora, Artsy, PandoDaily, AdRoll, Reddit and many more.

He has an interesting viewpoint when it comes to Startups and how they should be managed, in order to be successful. For the past decade, methodologies like Customer Development and Lean Startup have been popular. The central idea in these methodologies are around customers, and that your idea (hypothesis) must be tested against potential customers in order to be successful, and based on customers’ feedback you should tweak your initial idea (pivot) to achieve a sustainable and repeatable business model that generates revenue.

Peter Thiel is sceptical about these methodologies. He says that customers might not always be right and listening to them to guide your business’ destiny might not be the right approach. He encourages entrepreneurs to start startups that do in order of magnitude better than the existing competitors, rather than doing incremental improvements as the Lean Startup methodology suggests. He also advises entrepreneurs to go for monopoly when starting a startup, doing something that dominates the market i.e avoiding competition and aiming for monopoly. He says “Competition is for losers”.

He also questions the education system in leading Universities that teach Entrepreneurship, he says that currently our education system instills and inculcates in future entrepreneurs to compete and to be a better competitor rather than doing something unique that makes competition irrelevant or difficult for others to compete with your startup.

Personally, what he puts forward is definitely something interesting and somewhat refreshing. It kind of reminds me of Steve Jobs’ beliefs. He was the type of person where he would say “customers do not know what they want.. etc”. But I think Customer Development and Lean Startup Methodologies are not mutually exclusive to what Peter Thiel is suggesting, in fact they can still be used to help reach product-market-fit.

Below is a video of him giving a lecture in Stanford in “Business Strategy and Monopoly Theory” where he expounds on the above mentioned ideas of his:

Note: If you are based in Malaysia, you can order his book from Bookurve with free shipping. I ordered mine already together with Eric Schmidt’s “How Google Works“, should be arriving next week.

Startups Around Blockchain Technology

When you mention Bitcoin, first thing that comes to people’s minds are that it’s an anonymous digital currency (it’s actually far from anonymous but that’s a discussion for another post). So it’s primarily associated with “digital money” for majority of people.

But it’s much more than that. The underlying technology that Bitcoin is built upon is called Blockchain. Blockchain in simple terms is a decentralized platform that keeps track of all the transactions ever executed on the platform. It’s transparent and it’s decentralized, in other words no central government or banking institution controls it. There are major “nodes” (or servers) that keep copy of all the transactions, and there are many other computers that sync to those nodes.

Various types of “apps” can be built on top of Blockchain, it just so happens that the first “app” is a digital money app called Bitcoin. This was intentional by the founder(s) of the Bitcoin (Satoshi Nakamoto, a person or a group of people) to include the money part within the first release of the Blockchain, so that it serves as a reward for the miners (people who solve complex algorithms to generate Bitcoin) and node maintainers to earn monetary value for their contribution to the blockchain. In simplistic terms, bitcoin to blockchain is like gmail to internet. One is a platform and a protocol, and another is an app that is built on that platform/protocol.

Types of Apps being built around Blockchain Technology

Lots of interesting startups are being developed around Blockchain. Below are some of them. I’m not going to cover the ordinary ones like Bitcoin Exchange Platforms, Bitcoin Wallets, Bitcoin Payment Processing Gateways, Bitcoin Debit Cards etc. Rather will be mentioning the more interesting ones that are leveraging on the Blockchain Technology and not necessarily the currency Bitcoin itself;

Payroll System

  • Bitwage – bitcoin based payroll system for companies. Especially useful in paying international employees or freelancer workers.

Cloud Storage

  • Storj.io – Think of it as the truly decentralized version of Dropbox, where your files’ chunks will be stored in thousands of other members’ PCs.
  • Filecoin.io – Data storage network and electronic currency based on Bitcoin.
  • Bithost.io – Normal hosting with a twist, just pay with bitcoin and no need to provide bank details.

Crowd Funding

  • Counterparty – raise funding for your startup. Think of it as a Stock Exchange based on blockchain technology that allows you to IPO on your own.
  • Koinify – Crowd funding platform specifically for blockchain related startups

Continue reading