MBA Mondays Series: People

Based on the feedback I got on this topic last week, I've revised the title of the series and the topics we are going to cover.

The series will be called People. Human Capital is a turnoff. Businesses are all about people. And people aren't capital.

I've added posts on retention and asking someone to leave the company.

So here is the schedule of posts:

– The importance of culture and fit when hiring

– Where to find strong talent

– Optimal headcount at various stages

– Best hiring practices

– Retention

– Asking somone to leave your company

– How to leverage your partners (including your investors) in building and managing a team.

We also have lined up guest posts from Donna White, Dr Dana, Angela Baldonero, Susan Loh, and Chad Dickerson.

Should be a great series. I am looking forward to writing and reading it. It will go on for the next three months.

#MBA Mondays

Comments (Archived):

  1. Anne Libby

    Thanks Fred. Capital and assets are so much neater and easier to deal with than we are. (And though we’re messy, we’re capable of all kinds of transcendence. Unlike capital and assets.)This is going to be good!

  2. Rohan

    Ah. I was expecting us to dive into the series.So, a recent quote I liked while we are all waiting.. :)’When you do something noble and beautiful and nobody noticed, do not be sad. For the sun every morning is a beautiful spectacle and yet most of the audience still sleeps.’

    1. William Mougayar

      Indeed. When you know that it’s noble and beautiful, that’s what’s most important. The audience wakes up eventually.

    2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      Yep. that was my reaction as well and tried expressing it in pictorial funny way … but alas there is no photo share anymore with discuss.

  3. Dan Lewis

    Can you also speak to another few topics?1) Off-shoring, especially of developer teams2) Multiple offices, e.g. if you have talent in multiple cities3) At what point do you go from a team of people with loosely defined roles and into a company with specific job descriptions?

    1. markslater

      these are all good topics – i deal with them daily!off-shoring is a really good one.hopefully fred will pick up on that.

    2. fredwilson

      I did several mba mondays posts on the first two topics. I will make sure to cover the thirdD

      1. leigh

        Have you done anything on building for emergence? So many startups change direction on the way (and some dramatically so). How do you structure to allow that to happen without chaos being the result?

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


    3. Mark Essel

      1) From what I remember a strong NO except for non-essential products/tools. basically owning product requires permanent team members/strong communication2) can’t remember when companies grow into this3) that I’d like to know as well. Company size, maturity, revenues, etc.

  4. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    MBA Mondays….coming to AVC with this face (look at 18th image of the link.)http://lens.blogs.nytimes.c…After seeing the post …Is there guest post today or just titles? with this face….look at 15-th image of the same article.:-).Looking forward to the next 10-12 Mondays.P.S. beautiful photo of different animals. Where is the damn photo-share when you want one.

  5. Kyle Porter

    I’m glad that you’re doing this series. It’s the most important topic to me as an entrepreneur.My favorite culture practitioner is David Cummings (who might be the top Internet entrepreneur in Atlanta). He’s stated that “corporate culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage over which an entrepreneur has complete control.” Markets change, people change, tech certainly changes…but you can always control who you hire & fire, and the environment of your team.I’m looking forward to the series!

  6. William Mougayar

    How about adding “How” to find great talent, not just “Where” to find strong talent Another topic is on the job training & ongoing education – best practices How to create PULL towards your startup so that the best talent is attracted to you instead you going after them. And how to work with local universities & colleges. I’m mentioning these because I am personally enthralled in these issues. Finally, add a guest as a CEO who is doing it, not only HR & recruiting professionals 

    1. Rohan

      Chad Dickerson?

      1. William Mougayar

        I didn’t know all the names above, so if that’s covered, it’s great.

        1. ShanaC

          Chad Posts Regularly!!!(sorry chad)

        2. Rohan

          Ah. I didn’t know either (except the one and only Donna, of course). I just quickly clicked through their names and his twitter description was CEO of Etsy. 🙂

    2. ShanaC

      Teach yourself?Actually, teaching your employees should be part of this series…

  7. awaldstein

    I’d like someone layout the recruiting networks and platforms. Is LinkedIn the world for talent access? I bet not and someone is tracking this and building something new.

    1. William Mougayar

      Yes, that’s part of the How I was referring to. There is a whole lot of intermediaries out there, and some are paid, others not. How to vet them & pick the best ones for you.

    2. John Rorick

      This was discussed a great deal under Fred’s post a few weeks back.I recently negotiated/re-upped all of our global job board and talent contracts. There was only one vendor I could not choke revenue the life out of: Linkedin. Very little leverage. Caveat, this is in the context of large corporate, not startup environment. We have 14k associates; put the churn at 15% and do the math on recruiting volume.While many candidates decry the value of Linkedin as nothing more than a poor online version of a rolodex, it is where the monetizing audience is flocking, and where most professional level candidates are told to be if they are not already on the system. Aggregators play a huge role as well, with Indeed as the clear winner in the space, at least in the US, with Simplyhired having stubbed its toe in the past few years.I would rank the current recruitment world as: aggregators, linkedin, niche job boards (think Dice,, etc), then traditional and flagging job boards (cbuilder, monster which is now up for sale) and facebook.If I were a startup I would use an aggregator, and things like meetup to solidify a good networking effort. Woven throughout all of talent acquisition is the need for networking and happenstance, regardless of any platform. I put something like Twitter into the networking/discovery bucket, but when companies are cross-posting jobs on a tool like that (or facebook) I see them as the same as a generic job board. Just a help wanted ad posted in a new traffic location.One concept that the recruitment industry is trying to talk up (pundits that is) are Talent Communities:…I do not see the value of using a TC over utilizing any of the traditional social media outlets for discovery and recruitment and personally do not see it going anywhere, but I am certain a few AVC readers may disagree. One thing I can say with certainty, I have yet to speak to anyone in my network that has used or recruited a soul using Branchout. I chuckle when I read articles trumpeting their growth in registrants.

      1. awaldstein

        Examples of aggregators?

        1. John Rorick

          Indeed, Simplyhired.

          1. awaldstein

            I’ll check it out.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        Ha — just received an invitation to Branchout from my first “boss” as a recruiter. He’s been in the business about 40 years.

        1. leigh

          I have refused every branched out invite. I have my business network already on linkedin.

    3. Donna Brewington White

      I just came across something interesting — — haven’t checked it out — just applied to be a beta tester. The founder is a serial entrepreneur so “gets” startups — I am paying attention. Another is — more active in the Canadian market and working themselves south to the U.S. The right idea.These are companies doing some of the things that I’ve had in my head as I think about this problem.

      1. John Rorick

        Thanks for the reference to and matchfwd. My knee jerk, I have seen these types of iterations many times (yawn). Matchfwd is built on fb and linkedin…there are a number of ATS connectors and tools like jobvite that have been doing this for a bit now.What a tool needs to do is a paradigm shift, that compels value for the hiring manager or recruiter leveraging the tool as well as solving the candidate conundrum of never getting feedback. Not a leverage of social, not some new fancy algorithm to source candidates. Instead taking tech combined with PEOPLE (all recruiting still needs eyeballs) to change the game.When my service launches (I am currently working on it between the hours of 2-4:30am) you can all say you knew me when…half kidding.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          “When my service launches…”This is exciting news, John.I think you are right, a paradigm shift.In fact, I’d like to rethink the whole way recruiting and hiring is done. But for now I’m too busy trying to earn a living at it to stop and think about it as much as I’d like.

          1. John Rorick

            <—mouths to feed as well. Once mortgage and college is funded, then I should have time to devote (10 years is enough time to prep for a beta right? :)). Still enjoying my present gig and career though. Thankful for that.

  8. jason wright

    These are all important technicals, but what drives people on? What’s the ‘grit’?

    1. John Best

      Ahh, Maslow, Mayo, Hertzberg et al. Yes, that’s another fascinating one. Especially in the “gamification of work” era.

    2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      The vision, the leader, the people behind the screens (advisers, VCs) and the initial success.

    3. Donna Brewington White

      I think the HR term is performance management.But that is only part of what you are referring to.

      1. panterosa,

        Donna, “performance management” has struck a big bell with me. Just thinking about what makes me perform better has me wondering what the other parts you may attach to that might be. Can you elaborate?

        1. Donna Brewington White

          Panterosa — I always like it when you appear in the comment thread. You make things so much more interesting — in a good way.I am not an expert on performance management but I have just done a string of searches for human resources executives and all the terms and buzz words are in my head. Performance management is about getting the best performance from your team — motivating and measuring that performance and correcting performance when necessary. There are structures and practices that a company employs to accomplish this. One of the tools in performance management is the performance appraisal.Personally, I think the whole thing should be revamped to become more organic. Easier said than done.I don’t think the way I am using the term is the way you are taking it, but I really resonate with what your perception seems to be — how to get better results from ourselves. Sorry to disappoint you but that’s all I’ve got.

          1. panterosa,

            @DonnaBrewingtonWhite I love when you come in the comments too. This performance management thing really hits a personal note. A ‘how can I maximize myself’ note. I have your tweet and article, thanks. I am a sole founder, needing team, or shall I say partners/collaborators at some point, not looking to build a company. Or else I can’t stay designing which is my top skill. You have seen a prototype from me. I look to stay in same space of designing kick ass product. Not build big things/companies/people structures to manage. The performance management of self was what really got me from your mentioning it since as sole founder needing to manage self to get very best. Sort of loneliness of long distance runner type thing. Thank God I have the best coach ever- Fred’s ex partner – or I would be toast!

  9. reece

    i’m also curious what your take is on “work/life balance” among startupsi actually dislike the term “work vs. life” (because it pits them against each other, but the idea is the same – a balance among the things you get paid to do and those you don’t)

    1. Luke Chamberlin

      Agreed – “work/life balance” is a term for terrible corporate jobs that you dread waking up for each Monday morning.

      1. reece


    2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      When we do what we love we don’t work anymore …. we enjoy the journey :-).

      1. reece


    3. fredwilson

      It is a huge challenge reece. Many entrepreneurs sacrifice it

      1. reece

        yup… i’m one of them, so to speak, but i’m curious what you’ve seen across all your portfolios over the years…are all successful teams cranking 24/7? or are some teams effective with a more traditional schedule? is it the founders and then a dropoff? how much does the pace change after certain milestones?i think about pace/rhythm/flow a lot, both as an individual and on our company as a whole and i’m always curious about other co’s…

        1. panterosa,

          Reece, I find it very interesting too to see how people manage and their rhythms. I asked to have stage of life put in the MBA People post for the reason you mention above – supporting themselves outside work with personal pursuits and family/friends. I suspect burnout tends to come along cycle patterns – 20’s make x mistake more often, 40’s make other trade offs. Maximising your work mode takes many forms, and often people ‘need permission’ to keep certain lifestyles outside work that truly support them in work mode, but that may not make sense to co workers. I’d like a view of the forest here.

          1. reece

            we start with trust. our people don’t have to ask permission to have a lifeif their work is great and it’s getting done, then they should be able to pursue other interests. further, i think having other interests/hobbies/areas of study is a good thing for creative thinkingwhile i tend to put almost all of my energy into our company, i also try to set a good example and still pursue other goals – running/cycling, travel – to show that it’s ok

          2. panterosa,

            I embrace your philosophy on trust. But that is in such short supply so many places ( not your biz or mine, but out there…). How do we foster more trust?

    4. Tom Labus

      I’d rather have someone be very focused and productive for 5 6 hrs than someone doing 18 hrs at the office.

    5. mikenolan99

      I forget where I read the quote: “Work life balance was much easier when I didn’t have to work.” I failed at being retired at 42, and am now working as much as ever in a career centered on passion and making meaning. That’s how you balance work/life – blur the lines so it is all about making a difference.

    6. Mark Essel

      I would wager a healthy morning/evening jog makes you more productive for X hours after than hopping out of bed and heading straight to work. Optimize for your energy and clarity, lead by example.

      1. reece

        yup… i’m obviously a fan of that

    7. Matt A. Myers

      I don’t see how you are separable from work – you do. If I need a certain lifestyle/flow/routine to maintain my health, then that’s going to come first.I know my limits though, and know how much I can push them before I need a break.I’d like anyone I work with to act the same way, though I can see it causing issues, especially when you don’t know what someone’s routine is beforehand. I think I remember reading somewhere that Google doesn’t care specifically when you work, it could be very late at night, if that means you can make your child’s soccer game in the afternoon – or whatever other regular life events make your life fulfilling (outside of the awesome work, for the awesome company you work for, of course).

      1. reece

        we have a G.S.D. culture… Get Shit Doneas long as you are getting shit done, we don’t care when and how you do it or how long it takes you

        1. FlavioGomes

          More on the “Get Shit Done” philosophy, which i think summarizes it perfectly; we focus on measuring output not input. Cars in the parking lot isn’t a good kpi.

    8. BillMcNeely

      Penelope Trunk highlighted that Fortune magazine is starting to report on Corporate America’s war on American Family Life. Penelope directs our attention to Wei Hopeman of Citigroup who invests in Asian Startups for the Bank. This is what Ms. Trunk had to say: http://blog.penelopetrunk.c

  10. John Revay

    Fred,I attended #Rethink VC last week @ the Grind – thank you for talking – always enjoy hearing your point of view.When you spoke about the things that VC bring to the table (Capital, Board/Governance, Help w/ exits re: I Banker) – the one thing that I think you missed was your rolodex / contacts.You touched on it a bit when you commented about the value that a well know/respected VC (partner & firm) brings….I still think you left out or failed to mention was the value of your contacts and connections.Helps w/ Key hires – this series….as well as I would think recurring Bus dev.

    1. William Mougayar

      Isn’t that covered in this bullet:”How to leverage your partners (including your investors) in building and managing a team.”

  11. John Best

    Thanks for setting it out like that. Even “human resources” is dehumanising. It defines your most important aspect – people and their talent – as units to be consumed and used in the same way as printer paper. It’s one I’m sure I’ll find very interesting.

  12. Kirsten Lambertsen

    As someone with a very early stage startup, I can hardly wait for the whole series 🙂 Maybe it’s overly specific, but it could be helpful to address the current demand for and shortage of technical co-founders. When I go to founders events, that’s nearly *all* we talk about. It’s an epidemic!

  13. John@PGISelfDirected

    Great topics! (As usual.) Thanks for the great posts!

  14. Tom Labus

    Considering the coup at $YHOO, what is a resume worth?Is a resume a quideline to an introduction or a cast in stone doc?I usually considering them works of fiction and take it from there.

    1. John Best

      I’ve never lied on a CV. I don’t even think I’ve inflated/stretched/bent the truth outside glamourising tasks which I performed as more crucial and exciting than they were.

      1. Tom Labus

        Do you think you’re the exception to the rule or the norm?

        1. John Best

          I’d *like* to think I’m the norm. I have known people to outright lie though. Indeed, colleague who had the same job I did at the time that I knew him lied outright, and has profited from it. There doesn’t seem to be any indication he’ll be caught. Like a build up of arterial plaque, each successive job he gets makes it less likely (since all the others didn’t question it).At the moment, I’m more principled, but poorer than he is. I’m not sure what to make of that.

          1. ShanaC

            I think we need an ethics course here one of these days….

          2. LE

            I remember reading something on lying many years ago. The gist was that in general it results in a positive gain for people and that is why they do it.Sometimes people lie to stop others from their folly or to equalize their chances. It is well known that people fudge on their age in online dating. And in general you have to do this in some cases or you will be at a disadvantage because others are dong so.

          3. Donna Brewington White

            LE, did you know that your comment repeated 13 times?Maybe the Disqus gods found it worthy.

          4. LE

            Well when I click “post” it did nothing. Then I clicked again and another time. Maybe a total of 4 times. I then saw (by opening up another browser) that it had posted multiple times. I did a screen grab but, alas, you can’t upload an image anymore to disqus. Same exact thing happened a few days ago. But the admins deleted the extra comments pretty quickly. (Shana and William must be taking a smoke outside and when they return I’m sure extra comments will be deleted.)I’ve also had problems with disqus not remembering my password. And you can’t click on someone’s avatar w/o losing your place in a thread and actually you get returned to the home page.This is getting really annoying. They need to get the A team together and fix things like this.

          5. panterosa,

            LE, I’ve had similar Disqus problems and the less friendly design has reduced my AVC time. I consider that to be very counterproductive.I hope DISQUS smoothes this out soon.

          6. ShanaC

            no, we’ve been having email moderation problems. They’ve been resolved (for now)

          7. leigh


          8. Matt A. Myers

            Maybe he just really wanted to get the point across..

        2. Donna Brewington White

          I have been pretty vigilant about checking references and many of my clients do background checks. One retained executive search firm that I worked with did background, criminal and credit (for some positions) checks as well as degree verification. The amount of false information found was minimal. There have been things that are questionable, but very few out-and-out lies.In only a handful of instances in two decades have I pulled a candidate from consideration because I discovered a lie. Rarely, have I been shocked because there was always something that made me suspicious anyway.Good instincts are essential in hiring. If you don’t have them, then make certain that someone on your team does and is involved in the process. (Saying “you” in general terms, here.)But even with the best instincts, verify.

          1. Tom Labus

            That’s a pretty impressive track record.Hiring well is a real art.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            I didn’t mean for that to be a boast! Much of what I do right, I learned from mistakes — mine and others’.

    2. John Rorick

      Resume = ticket to an audition. While lies should be vetted out, I am not looking at the resume during an interview, I am driving for examples to support the competencies of my open position. Everybody should be able to conduct an interview without a resume in hand; all that is needed is an understanding of your vacancy.

    3. Donna Brewington White

      If a resume is fiction, then you should consider it a waste of time to talk to the person who created that fiction.A resume is a snapshot, but not the whole picture. However, that snapshot needs to be accurate and truthful, even if not complete.You can only draw certain hard and fast conclusions from a resume. If you absolutely need particular industry experience and the person doesn’t show that industry on the resume, then it is a safe bet to move on.I believe there is some room for interpretation on a resume — for instance changing a title to make more sense to the outside world. But fabricating a degree is a lie. No way around that.

  15. Chris Phenner

    I love-love-love that ‘Human Capital’ was trounced as a lame term by the AVC crowd. I can think of no phrase that more oxymoronically tries to de-humanize the human.

    1. ShanaC

      It comes out of Marx – people is everything about you, human capital is just what you provide vis a vis labor production. He’s very specific that person has a value above human capital alone, even though we “measure economic worth”* through human capital.,*aka being paid. no, this isn’t completely accurate, the best teachers aren’t paid more than ok bankers because they are labor efficient…

    2. John Rorick

      Capital:1. Cash or goods used togenerate income eitherby investing ina business ora different incomeproperty.2. The net worth ofa business;that is, the amount bywhich its assets exceed its liabilities.3. The money, property, and other valuables whichcollectively represent the wealth of anindividual or business.If I could get hiring leadership to see “people” as the above investment assets that the term ‘capital’ evokes, candidates and companies would benefit greatly. Hiring (I am at my third larg co. global recruiting stop, not startup environments) is treated as a big need and then addressed dismissively as Leadership grabs resumes off of a warm printer 30 seconds before an interview with all of the thought I take to a trip to 7-11. There are certainly exceptions, and to nobody’s surprise those that prepare, layer the interview process and probe for competencies around culture, skill and long-term fit tend to have lower turnover, higher performer teams, hire faster, etc.But I like “capital”. It places a large value on people as investments and assets. Which they are.

      1. jonathan hegranes

        Awesome reply! People get offended so easily these days without thinking through to which a term really means.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        Well said, John.I am generally the person in the conversation championing “the cause” in terms of valuing people. In fact, it was after one very hard year of working in compensation management for a company that did not value its people (and had very little appreciation for “human capital” except as a necessary evil) that I left the corporate world forever. Yet, I have no problem with the term human capital because there is a place in business for making objective decisions about talent requirements and assigning value to as well as recognizing the value of the human component of a business. It is in determining “practices” that you come back to thinking about people as…well, as people. But that thinking has to be within a larger context of the value of people to the business. It’s a healthy tension.

    3. Dave Pinsen

      I doubt the phrase “Human Capital” was penned to “de-humanize” anyone. More likely, HR execs saw it as a way for them to raise their status within corporations (just as, years ago, they probably thought “Human Resources” was a step up from the prosaic “Personnel”). Ultimately, though, changing names doesn’t change the substance of what they do.

      1. John Rorick

        I feel the same way about financial advisors and marketing reps…just embrace the fact that you are in “sales” :).

        1. Dave Pinsen

          But does being in sales mean that one can’t add value by offering useful information? Coincidentally, that question came up in the comment thread of an article of mine (“Hedging Against Gold Losing Its Haven Status”) published by Seeking Alpha over the weekend.That article quoted both a bullish case and a bearish case for gold, originally presented in an FT article Saturday. One gold bug, angry that I included a case against gold in my article, noted that my article was a way of promoting my hedging app, and attacked me as a “tout/troll”.That part of his comment was excised by the Seeking Alpha editors, but they kept my response, in which I acknowledged that part of the reason authors submit articles to the site is to gain exposure for their businesses, and the site allows that, provided the articles meet their editorial standards and the business is mentioned in a way that isn’t overly promotional.I was pleasantly surprised to see that a couple of commenters groked that one could be a salesman and still offer useful info. One wrote,”I know what you’re saying, but honestly this is a pretty useful article. I appreciate the useful information on how to efficiently and effectively hedge positions. I think that the author has done a nice job of providing valuable information in the context of promoting his app, and I have no problem with that. I wish I had used a strategy like this when silver was in the high $40’s and gold was around $1900.”Another wrote,”David, thank you for offering your suggestions about the offsetting of risk.The fact that you offer your advice from a position as a professional and an entrepreneur has no bearing on its validity as you are rightly forthcoming about your interests.”So, that was nice to see.

          1. ShanaC

            🙂 Being a good salesperson often means knowing how to be helpful over making a sale right now….

          2. John Rorick

            A could salesperson is useful, which denotes a clear understanding and ability to assess their potential market’s needs. They should be informative. I have a “solution” to your “problem”. There is a reason why I return to the same business development contacts when I have a problem that necessitates a third party solution. They are informed.

  16. ShanaC

    Being slightly controversial (only if you are Andy Swan)One of the great things that Marx actually is said is that people have value outside of their labor, in ways hard to compensate monetarily.I very much like that you acknowledge this fact through calling this series “people” and not “human capital.” There are things people do in a work environment that are not part of the job per say, and they are things you need to think about.

    1. Mark Essel

      “Predictably irrational” author Dan Ariely gives some great experimental evidence on crossing the border between social customs and market forces. We’ll do things for social reasons that don’t fit into market forces. We’re different animals when it comes to thinking socially, team work, codependence, etc. Where market forces/wages drive us to be more independent, and isolated.

      1. andyidsinga

        love that book! …and reread sections occasionally

      2. ShanaC

        Exactly – and these sorts of behaviors do interplay in work. (and I love that book too)

    2. Dave Pinsen

      Of course people have value outside of their labor — they may be valued by their children as a parent, by their spouse as a spouse, by their friends as a friend, etc. — but businesses compensate employees based on their labor, and their accomplishments related to the business. Alec Baldwin’s character addressed this distinction in this famous scene from Glengarry Glenross (NSFW — see about the 4:45 mark):

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Good movie & scene, but I posted the Glengarry scene because in it Baldwin’s character addresses the issue Shana raised.

          1. leigh

            let me give you my favorite joke of all time:A homeless guy is begging for money. A wealthy looking well dressed fellow walks up to him and says, “In the words of William Shakespeare, neither a borrow nor a lender be”The homeless guy cocks his head up from the ground and looks the guy straight in the eye and simply says: “Yah? Well in the words of David Mamet, go f*ck yourself”

          2. William Mougayar

            Speaking of homeless stories, I’m compelled to share this *true* one. We walk out of a fancy restaurant in Vancouver with a doggy bag of beef tenderloin strips that were so-so, but still very edible. We thought we’d give it to a Vancouver homeless person because there is lots of them there. We track one on Robson, slow the car down towards him, get ready to hand him the bag from the window, and say “hey buddy, would you like some beef?”. “Sorry man, I’m vegeterian”. We felt so rejected…by a homeless person…Only in Vancouver!

          3. Guest

            I had a similar experience ~20 years ago in the East Village. I was sitting outside at a sushi place on St. Mark’s Place and one of my friends got in a conversation with a homeless man. One of us offered him some sushi. “I don’t eat Chinese food”, he said.

          4. leigh

            Vancouver = Drug addicts and health fanatics and maybe you found the one person who was both! 🙂

          5. jason wright

            It’s healthier, it’s cheaper, it’s thinking.

          6. ShanaC

            I remember being without a cellphone for a few months in college, but all the homeless people on my walk to classes had.bizarre moments of my life…

          7. Dave Pinsen

            Funny. Though, to be picayune, a beggar is neither a borrower or a lender.

          8. leigh

            i’m just impressed i can remember one joke – never mind remembering it well 🙂

      1. Russell

        Hi Dave and LE,As a long-time avc reader I like many of the comments youguys make, however I have to disagree here. Hollywood does a poor job ofcapturing the essence of what a good sales person does.My experience has been that start-ups and establishedcompanies alike need a sales person to build mutually beneficial relationshipswith clients, and get honest, actionable feedback from the market to enhance theproduct offering. Keenan at does a great job at highlightingthe wide variety of influences that go into being a good sales person.To slightly modify Shana’s original point perhaps the activities people participate in outside the work environment such as parenting,sports, education, volunteering make them better at their job.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          RBC,In defense of Hollywood, it wasn’t portraying good salesmen in Glengarry or Boiler Room. It was portraying shady ones, who make for interesting drama. I know all about the value an honest salesmen can add, as I am one myself. You may be interested in what Thomas Lifson had to say about the value added by excellent salesmen.As for this,perhaps the activities people participate in outside the work environment such as parenting, sports, education, volunteering make them better at their job.Perhaps, but in any case my point about what businesses compensate their employees for stands. And Alec Baldwin’s character’s comments to Ed Harris’s character in that clip — though exaggerated for dramatic effect — are fundamentally true. Ed Harris’s salesman may be a great guy, a great father, etc., but he’s getting paid to do a job (sell real estate, in this case, but the same principle would apply if he were doing any other job with measurable results), and if he can’t do it, the business doesn’t want him there.

      2. ShanaC

        In terms of what they do at work – there might be huge value that isn’t getting paid for by making team dynamics work well, for example.

    3. Donna Brewington White

      I think companies should compensate based on the value of the contribution. There is the value of the job being performed and that is the base line, and then from there is the measurement of performance and contribution.In a smaller environment, that can be more subjective, but as you scale, some structure is needed for this type of decision-making.It sounds/feels good to say it’s about people. But if good business decisions are not being made — including good economic decisions which involve thinking of people in objective terms — then the people will not benefit. Especially if they no longer have a job because the business goes under.The other thing that needs to get factored in, is “relationship.” That is probably as strong if not a stronger factor that adds complexity to decision-making in a smaller environment than “people.” But the question is this — what are you paying for? What do you value? How does a certain way of thinking and making decisions about people benefit the business? This is where people who have had to make this call need to weigh in.

      1. Guest

        I think the point about compensation is critical and having been involved in enough troubled companies (oh, about 7 and with 20 to over 100 employees) and I can tell you that one of the first things I look at is a list of staff, job titles, years of service, and salary.I have spent lots of late nights in hotel rooms trying to figure out what was the logic of the pay scales and how to determine the organization of the work flow…There are so many HR buzzwords around but if a logic (other than seniority or “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”) cannot be easily discerned from your payroll data then you are headed for a disaster.I would build an organizational chart from the data and then I would meet with management and have them prepare for me an organizational chart of how they saw things; the results were surprising.

      2. ShanaC

        I think I am talking about the relational/relationship issue. How do you structure pay for that kind of work…

        1. Donna Brewington White

          Technically speaking, you can only compensate for job performance — for services rendered. You can compensate at a higher level for a certain level of performance. But when you start factoring things into compensation that cannot be measured in some way, then you are opening up to subjectivity that causes problems among your team. One of the most important things to people is a sense of fairness in their workplace. The thing is, you can’t compensate for everything with money. There have to be some aspects of the job that bring rewards that are non-money-related. The smart management team will cultivate those rewards.

  17. Tom Labus

    The legal consequences of an officer being fired or resigning?

  18. Donna Brewington White

    Honored to be a part of this. Looks like I am in good company.Glad to see a CEO in the lineup — hoping to hear from more, as well as other leaders involved in hiring — but perhaps that will happen in the comments.Excited.

  19. Pete Griffiths

    This should be a very interesting series. Imho the biggest weakness of the ‘lean startup’ movement with its associated literature – books and articles – is that the human side of the organization is given meager treatment. In the light of the well documented fact that this is the biggest reason for startup failure this would seem to be a rather grave omission.

  20. jason wright

    Insurgents verses incumbents as networks versus hierarchies. Yet insurgents form their very own hierarchies inside their startups. Should not startups be open networks?

    1. FlavioGomes

      Crush the fiefdoms…at a very high level yes they should in my opinion.

  21. BillMcNeely

    I think this is going to be a great series. As I think most of the AVC community works for or began “Math” companies, folks are used to following the data, whatever the cold hard reality leads. However, when dealing with human beings, outcomes are not always as black or white. I was reminded of this after an interview with Amazon at a Fullfiment Center back in April. Comments from the staff such as “Amazon is just like the Army”, “Your job is to take obstacles out of the hourly workers way in order to make every day the same” . These comments on top of the strange looks I recieved when I mentioned I wanted to pursue outside education like an MBA , PMP certification and read blogs like your to stay current . If it was not happening inside those 4 walls it was not worth knowing or sharing. Here is a link to the stream of thoughts I had right after the interview: ( http://www.myveterantransit… ) I think Amazon is an amazing company but is a good example of what happens when the human element gets trampled when data is analyzed for data’s sake.

  22. Matt Straz

    Great topic. Would love to see a post of how HR technology makes things better (or worse) when it comes to people and startups.We’ve spent six months building software to help media and tech companies manage their teams and people. It’s been a fascinating and sometimes surprising experience.

  23. Nancy King

    Looking forward to these posts. A topic very close to my heart.

  24. JLM

    @fredwilson:disqusFred, you may want to consider the following:The role of mentoring, coaching and communication in developing talent and improving performance as well as planing for their utilization.Goal setting and performance appraisal methodology to measure performance.SMART goal setting — specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timingRoutine communication to reinforce vision, mission, values, strategyCompensation design — the other things that are not equity: compensation, benefits, short term incentive compensation, long term incentive compensation, something specialTraining — formal, informalReading list for management — perhaps the simplest thing to align thinking by ensuring that everyone has the same frame of referenceProfessional development — internally and externallyProfessional/industry associations and positioning as “the authority” for individual team members

    1. FlavioGomes

      A perfect list. In fact I’m going to take this framework and do an internal review. Thank-you

  25. FlavioGomes

    Some one once told me “Business is easy…people make it hard”. This will likely be an invaluable series. Looking forward to it.

  26. Ben Apple

    I’m curious to hear Fred (and others) thoughts on interviewing and the hiring process. I’ve been interviewed in a number of unique ways and often wondered if those methods truly led to better employees.

  27. Dan Abdinoor

    I’m glad you changed the title of the series. Although I am sure the content would be good either way, human capital has always been an out-of-touch term to me. I have a fair amount of experience in the People side of engineering so I am really looking forward to it.

  28. Emily Merkle

    I look forward to this!

  29. Chris Jacob

    As someone who is passionate about tech and has both a blog and a published book on US Immigration, do you think Fred given the unlikelihood of Congress moving on anything anytime soon, there is any opportunity to disrupt US Immigration from a business standpoint? (I am glad you recognize it also as complete BS!)

    1. fredwilson

      I do not know how we could do that

      1. Chris Jacob

        Yes unfortunately it seems it is just more of an education and awareness thing as an issue for politics and as a how to template for business to hire a wider variety of people

  30. awaldstein

    Stuck in my memory is a SNL live scene with Garret Morris where some homeless drunk folks in the subway are offered NY State wine and refused to drink it because its…NY State…and at that time was basically plonk.Couldn’t find the link for this life.

  31. Dave Pinsen

    Funny. I’ll have to find that clip sometime.