SaaStr preso: The Top “People” Lessons — And Mistakes

Gave a talk at SaaStr today. A lot of people asked for the slides — here they are:

The Top “People” Lessons — And Mistakes — From Founding a $3.8 Billion Market Leader

The 7 “People” Things No One Tells You When You Scale a B2B Company

• Drum roll please

Recruiting is over-rated

  • What?????
  • Best companies will have fewer people
  • More People = More Communications Issues
  • Track revenue/employee
  • My mistake: I have ALWAYS over-hired

THE important business skill: selecting (and managing) vendors

  • Rely on APIs instead of hiring more
  • Vendors are getting better faster than employees
    • WhatsApp had under 60 people at time of acquisition
    • Kylie Jenner’s company has 7 employees
    • Vizio got to $2BB revenue with just 80 employees
  • My mistake: again, I have ALWAYS over-hired

Unbalanced teams beat balanced teams

  • Pick 1-3 areas where your team will be dominant
  • Just hire for the things you are already really good at … forget about the rest
  • Even Salesforce.com is not good at lots of things (like UI)
  • My mistake: I ALWAYS try to hire to fill the gaps – bad idea

Try to NEVER hire in the San Francisco Bay Area

  • Really hard to attract great people to SaaS in SF
  • Really hard to keep great people in SaaS in SF
  • Not being is SF is a massive strategic advantage
  • My mistake: I almost have EXCLUSIVELY hired in San Francisco

Put off hiring VP HR and VP Marketing (for as long as possible)

  • 90% of marketing people are in the bottom third of their organization*
  • 95% of HR people are in the bottom third of their organization*
  • Hire these VPs AFTER you have hired all the others. And you can wait to hire VP HR until > 100 employees
  • My mistake: yup … made this one too. * stats completely made up for effect

You CAN fire people too quickly

  • “you never fire someone too quickly” is very wrong
  • People can be saved … you hired them for a reason
  • My mistake: not being creative enough to find a fit

How to ID the 10X employee (before you work w her)

  • Threats vs Opportunities
  • Planning vs Action
  • Negativity vs Positivity
  • Individual vs Team
  • My mistake: I still don’t know how to ID this person

1 thought on “SaaStr preso: The Top “People” Lessons — And Mistakes

  1. AD

    Great post.

    “More People = More Communications Issues
    Track revenue/employee” stands out especially.

    I would add: hire for intellect, talent, and drive over experience, every time. Someone who has the “experience” may be slow, adversely selected (why are they on the market so cheap and not in a senior position), and not nimble enough to work at a startup. My best hires have been brilliant but woefully under-experienced for the role and the worst have been deeply experienced but plodding B/C players who can’t and won’t move quickly and don’t have the same desire to prove themself in the role.

    Reply

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