A little story about “A” players

'A' Players

No doubt you want your startup to be filled with ‘A player’ hackers and hustlers.

This is the common reason why we people talk up the importance of so called A players:

A Players attract A Players

while,

B Players attract C players.

Personally, I think we are all A,B and C players. What determines our quality of play is the culture we are immersed in. The people we are around, the tasks we are asked to do, whether this is the right industry or project for us, and maybe even the playing habits of those in charge.

I strongly believe A, B and C players are a function of the environment, not the person. We’ve all had periods and places where we’ve excelled and others where we have been the weak link. So in real terms, our job in any organisation should be about creating a culture where A players happen to emerge.

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Don’t waste time finding the best person

The best person

Every now and again there’s a rock band who are global superstars, who also happen to have world class musicians in the band. Eric Clapton and Cream, Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. But more often the great rock bands have a style and an ethic which is amalgamation of the players. But these players are not world class on their own. I’d put U2 in this category. The four Beatles make the Beatles. John Lennon was a brilliant genius and successful solo musician, but he couldn’t make girls scream on his own. He was different.

In startups what we are really building is a team and a culture. We talk about trying to find the best coder, the best UX guru, the ultimate growth hacker, but we should focus on is having the best culture where amazing collaborations can happen. If we want to be the best at something, we should probably be working on our own.

You should totally read my book – The Great Fragmentation.

Building a startup team

This weekend I’ve been a mentor at the #SAPIhack event in Melbourne down at the York Butter Factory. During the event I was having a chat with Frenchie about what makes a great technology based startup team and he gave me the best answer I’ve heard yet.

The 3H.

The 3 core skill sets you need in a team are the following:

A Hacker

A Hipster

A Hustler

You can probably guess what they are but let me give you a little explanation of each. The Hacker is the code monkey. The development guys who knows how build or construct the actual thing. The Hipster is your design guru, the UI guy, this person has a style sensibility to them and knows how to make ‘it’ beautiful, desirable and usable. The last guy, the Hustler is the deal maker, the dream seller, the phone call maker and snake charmer.

You get the point – but it’s a great and simple way to structure a team. And we all need each other. It’s a rare situation indeed when one person can do it all. And it’s probably impossible to have the time to do it all even if you are a 3H-er. The other thing it points to is the oft divergent personality types that are needed and that there is room for all of us in startup land.

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Economic irrationalist

Lately I’ve been making a few decisions which are economically irrational. Making decisions which are, on the face of it, financially inept.

For example, I starting to feel a sense of loyalty to my chief technology officer for rentoid.com

He’s not the cheapest and he’s not the best. Probably somewhere in the middle for both. I could probably get someone cheaper with similar skills, or better for the same price. But I don’t. In fact I tell him that I’m loyal to him. A large part of why I want  to succeed so that he can succeed also, to share it with him. Even though he has not risked the capital, or the time that I have on the project.

Why would I act this way. Well I like working with him. He’s a nice guy, and sometimes that’s enough.

I guess you could call me an Economic Irrrationalist. And it just feels right.

ABC 7.30 report – Virtual Offices

I was fortunate enough to feature in a story on the ABC 7.30 report this week. The topic was on virtual offices and digital offshoring. My business rentoid got a nice little plug which is a bonus on a non-commercial channel. The opportunity arose from this newspaper article I was in on the topic in the Sydney Morning Herald. Which goes to show media exposure also has a compounding effect for your startup as well.

Although the story and offshoring in general has it’s detractors (unions love the status quo, unless it involves profit increases they want a share in). I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve worked with talented people in developing markets.

  • My team get paid more than they’d get locally.
  • I’ve helped team members get more work, and mentored them in building their own businesses.
  • I like investing in developing markets because improves living standards.

It’s our job as entrepreneurs to create positive situations with tech innovations, and there’s no doubt in my mind having an overseas team does this, while building a business with beneficiaries locally (employees, revenue, community) as well.

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People & Compound Damage

No doubt your new start up will face issues. Many of them will be people related. Some will be things simply not getting done or not working once you press the on switch. If issues arise and remain unresolved within 24 hours you will start to suffer Compound Damage. This is particularly the case with suppliers and staff. All things in life compound, it is just natures way.  Consider this with all problems and general stuff ups.

If you ignore them they will go away, along with your business.