Disclaimer: We know we hardly have time to sit through an hour class (even if its online). This is why the Innowest team has put together some summaries from Sam Altman’s How to Start a Startup video lectures. This series, initially given at Stanford in Fall 2014, covers everything we know about how to start a startup, and features some of the worlds experts. When you get the chance, watch the whole lecture.
Lecture 11: Hiring and Culture Part 2
In this lecture on how to start a start up the founders of Stripe, Patrick and John Collison, and founder of Pinterest, Ben Silbermann, continue discussing the importance of building and maintaining a culture within a company.
Through a Q and A these founders discuss the methods and processes they used to develop and create the culture they wanted to maintain and the characteristics they wanted to see when hiring some of their first employees.
What are the core parts of culture you found important when building your company?
1.Who are we hiring and what do they value
2. What do we want to be doing everyday and why are we doing it
3. How are we choosing to communicate
4. What are we choosing to celebrate
“When you run a company that you celebrate you find more success.”
Have transparency: If you are aligned and informed with the mission of the company and everyone believes in the companys success it helps one another work productively together and forgive set backs.
A culture is the strands you want to maintain.
What are the traits do you looked for to maintain the culture of the company when hiring your initial employees?
People say culture is like architecture but its more like gardening. You plants some seeds and then you pull out the weeds that are working and they begin to expand.
Look for people like your self. Find someone who is curious and creative. They need the drive to want risk anything to build something great.
The First Ten
The first ten hires make a huge impression on what the companys culture will be.
-What traits do you see align with all of the new hires
-Dont just hire someone based off what is written on a resume. Work with them for a week before committing to hiring. Make sure the new hire has the culture traits you want to maintain.
Call references and ask questions. This is also a great way to find new recruits for your company.
Find someone who is genuine, cares a great deal for the company, and is determined to complete things.
Trust people who are undervalued
- If someone is a world renowned engineer they probably are already working at a great job. Dont be afraid to trust someone who is early on in their career.
The Elevator Pitch
Have a speech designed to sell your companys mission. You arent just selling your company to investors but to hires.
Preparation will make the companies mission sound credible and exciting.
While you may think your company is going to be very successful you still have to convince employees to risk working for it. In the beginning the companies mission is just an idea. Convince the new hires that the company will last long term.
How do you maintain the companys culture long term?
Culture automatically starts once you begin working together. Make sure employees are reminding one another of short term and long term goals of the company.
Look at performance: Look at new hires from their first interview to the last thirty days of their performance. Have they maintained the companies culture and understand the priorities of the company?
Validate one another: Instill goals but dont forget to show employees you care. Celebrate goals and solve set backs.
How have you adjusted your processes to maintain the companys culture?
One thing we try to do is make the team overtime. We are always trying to make it seem like a start up of many start ups
One goal is that each team controls resources to get things done. Remove barriers that arent working and put some in to speed. Look at what culturally will be good for the company down the road and adjust.