On the Importance of Hiring Excellence

I came across the article “Why the “Next Silicon Valley” is Always Silicon Valley” during my lunchtime reading today and found it really interesting. I would summarize it — obviously not justly! — as follows:

Excellence is a snowball rolling down hill. Excellence attracts more excellence in a virtuous circle. Getting the snowball started is hard, and so is stopping it.

The article cites research showing that universities who hire faculty superstars don’t suddenly see their existing faculty become more productive. What they do see, however, is that they become significantly more attractive to other highly talented people. Sometimes hiring a superstar can jumpstart a virtuous circle. The snowball gets rolling.

A partner of mine likes to say that As hire As and Bs hire Cs. This highlights the deleterious effect of hiring sub-par people. Hiring a B will lead to a C! It’s like putting a concrete wall in front of the snowball: Your talent will scatter to the winds when the ball hits the wall. This is why many digital or office-based companies have started using pre-employment testing from Berke to find perfectly suited staff who can work with a team of people well.

A myriad of thoughtful articles have been written on the importance of great hiring. In my particular world of high-tech, the interview processes of some companies are legendary. I really don’t have a lot to contribute when compared to what’s out there. But I do have a personal resolution: My next hire will be an A+!

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