How To Hire Executives

Brian Armstrong, founder and CEO of our portfolio company Coinbase, writes a regular blog in which he talks about a bunch of things; Coinbase, things he has learned, the crypto market, and a bunch more. If you don’t follow Brian, you might want to.

Last week he laid out the entire process he uses to hire executives and it’s a really great post.

Here is the outline of the process:

  • Speak to subject matter experts [1–2 weeks]
  • Choose the hiring committee [1–2 days]
  • Draft the mission/outcomes/competencies (MOC) document [1–2 weeks]
  • Source candidates [2 weeks]
  • Build the relationship [1 month]
  • Evaluate candidates [1 month]
  • Close them [1 month]

If you plan to hire executives or are already doing it and would like to see how another CEO does it, I would suggest you go read Brian’s post.

One thing Brian leaves out, likely not intentionally, is the role of board members and investors in this process.

I have seen board members and investors play a valuable and highly engaged role in the “hiring committee” and most certainly in the closing process. I have done this for Brian a number of times and so have Micky Malka, Chris Dixon and Barry Schuler. We are very fortunate to have a great management team and Board at Coinbase and that makes a big difference in running an executive hiring process.

I have been an investor in Coinbase and have worked with Brian for almost five years now. I have watched him grow and develop as a CEO. He takes that very seriously and it shows. Putting down things like your hiring process is a great way to pass on to others what you have learned and get feedback too.



Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Following him now.Interesting that recruiting in essence has not changed as a process. We get smarter at it. We learn not to rush the process and understand the person. We come to grips with culture and distributed teams more so.But recruiting and great recruiters are invariably still exceptional people, like enterprise salespeople that bring together both sides of the equation.

  2. William Mougayar

    From reading the post, he does take the process very seriously. I hope he has help from his own HR to manage this process. Has Brian worked with an executive recruiter? They can help streamline many of these steps and save a lot of time, and not having to figure out or reinvent some steps. In many cases, the best candidates have to be sought out. They aren’t looking for a job, and they may not be within your network’s reach.

    1. awaldstein

      my point below exactly and truly great recruiters make a huge difference. he does mention using a recruiter in the post btw.

      1. William Mougayar

        but it wasn’t clear if he worked with them or not, “I chalk this up to inexperience working with exec recruiting firms”. overall, i thought the whole process he outlined was for C-levels, as it is quite elaborate for non C/SVP levels, but it depends on the size of the company as well.

        1. awaldstein

          we agree 100% on this william.we’ve both been there on both sides and advise on this often i’m sure.listened somewhere recently on the recruiting process for Netfilx. If interested i’ll find it. Very good stuff.

    2. Twain Twain

      They aren’t looking for a job. They’re looking for a mission and to bring meaningful skills to a team.

  3. JimHirshfield

    Solid 4.5 months…that’s a long time in the startup’s life. But can’t rush this.

    1. Pointsandfigures

      Executives are different than lower pieces of the team

      1. JimHirshfield

        *pieces* ?Like chess?

        1. LE

          Pecking order. [1] As in ‘your station in life’ is to serve the kings. In business school, at least when I attended, they were referred to as ‘labor units’ in the same general sense as ‘widgets’. Of course that is also when this unique word “employees” was used as well.[1] I was at a party many years ago where a semi respectable radio broadcaster was at our table. Something didn’t work in the audio setup and someone asked if he could help. (Have no clue why but I guess it was a version of ‘he’s a computer guy’ or ‘he’s in medicine/law’ where people think those types have a super broad range of skills which cover everything.) Anyway he replies quite snottily ‘I’m on air talent I don’t do those things’. Refused to get up and take a look. Likewise when I dated a doctor years ago she literally wanted to kick me when I asked if she could help me put on some surgical gloves to do a repair. To her it triggered this ‘Just because I am a woman I am not a nurse” PTSD that many women doctors I have been told struggle with.

          1. PhilipSugar

            Not sure I get your point. See my point above. I do not think any task is “beneath” me. If I see somebody struggling in the ditch with a sewer pipe, I will jump in down there with him (true story) Who’s house gets the best plumbing? Mine. But see my point above: I believe in rank.

          2. LE

            Well funny because I almost referenced you in my comment because it applies to me as well (and you should know that). I made some of my first dollars waxing cars (for ‘rich’ people or at least that’s what I thought they were). I am 100% not of the ‘job is beneath me’ type. But I am also 100% practical. If cleaning my own toilet means I don’t have to deal with someone in my office (or vacuuming) then that is what I will do. And have always done. It’s quick and it prevents me from getting annoyed and interrupted.What I don’t do though is a job that I can pay someone else to do at less of a rate or where I don’t have expertise. I have so many things that only I can do that I can’t pay someone else to do so it simply doesn’t pay for me to do that. Cleaning toilet is quick so it’s a gain in time and less distraction.The pattern that I have noticed is how people who do not have or maybe didn’t have when they were growing up seem to think that rich or smart people lead their life in a way that they really don’t. So they think ‘wow Elon Musk wouldn’t be doing this’ or ‘rich guy in town wouldn’t be doing this’ so they are then trying to emulate behavior that isn’t even accurate in many cases. Until they see social proof then they will think it’s ok (hate that type of thinking I have never needed social proof..)Way I was raised my Dad would always make fun of people who couldn’t ‘jump in and help with the sewer pipe’. That is actually how he survived the concentration camp. He wasn’t an electrician but was able to fake it and get work doing that and become of value. Used to stall the elevators so others didn’t have to work. His attitude I think was to stuff as much shit into your brain because you never know when you will need it. You (or I) could easily find work if we needed to as opposed to a single function corporate labor unit who is super specialized to do only one particular job.

          3. sigmaalgebra

            At least at one time there was the Mobil Oil Travel Guide. In part, they rated high end restaurants. Their highest rating was five stars.One restaurant got five stars for at least 14 years in a row, and at the time that was by a wide margin better than all or nearly all other restaurants in the country.The cook was a Swiss woman, trained in high fashion women’s clothing, astoundingly careful, precise, and bright, and self-taught in cooking. The front of the house was her husband, just as good in the front of the house.Turns out, the restaurant was near me and eventually once I knew about it went 1+ times a month.The husband cleaned the rest rooms frequently during the lunch and dinner hours, maybe after each use.

          4. PhilipSugar

            I think there are a lot of people that “play business” I.e. they do what they think they are supposed to do, look how they think they are supposed to look, and act accordingly.Crap. Total crap.Then somebody comes along that doesn’t play by the rules and knocks out their teeth. As they bend over to pick them up they get kicked in the ass.

          5. Vasudev Ram


        2. PhilipSugar

          His choice of words is poor, but here is the thing:Let me first say: Having a great team is the most important.Your customers don’t give a shit about you, they care about what your team produces and services.Nick Saban wins all of the time because his players are the best.However: A leader has potential to fuck up an entire team. They can pick the wrong team or have the team leave because they suck.You can change out some members of the team but changing out the leader sucks. Another football analogy: I give you the suckage of the Cleveland Browns.

          1. JimHirshfield


          2. JLM

            .Nick Saban has a system which is able to showcase excellent talent, but it is the system which comes first. His system is hard, disciplined, and works when the game is on the line.He has never had great quarterbacks — unfair?But, he has always had smart quarterbacks who know how to give the ball to guys who can run behind the system of the line and the running back.When Texas was trying to steal him from Alabama, I understand he was very harsh in his criticism of the lack of a real system at Texas.Players come to play for Saban because of their probability of making it into the pros. They play for Saban who just happens to be at Alabama.Roll Tide!JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          3. PhilipSugar

            He knows football, apparently he is a great recruiter as well. Sandra Bullock said he and the other coaches were “scary” good when they were in the movie The Blind Side.I am from Texas. Football is a religion. My wife is from Alabama. The Tide is a cult.The only other place I have seen it like that is Western Pennsylvania. They officially move Halloween if it falls on a Friday because that is high school football day.

          4. JLM

            .Somebody who is in a position to know said he recruits the mother of the kid.He says, “Ma’am, do you want your son to be the best he can be on and off the field? If so, the University of Alabama is the right place for him.”JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          5. JamesHRH

            This is well known in sports circles – its a staple approach for hoops coaches too.

          6. JamesHRH

            Colin Cowherd, in order of NFL importance:1) Owner2) Head Coach3) QBIts why Kaepernick can’t get a job. #s 1&2 don’t see him as a reliable #3, because he is not mono-football.I honestly think they could care less and likely agree with his political positions, they just want a QB that is OCD NFL.

          7. JLM

            .Kaepernick focused the light on himself and not the underlying subject matter. People took it personal. Now, he is paying the price for that decision.Does not make any difference if it is fair or not. People are entitled to their opinions on both sides of the ball.Football is a business in which people get paid to play a game.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      2. Lawrence Brass

        Of course everyone has a place and a mission within a team but, why not start better making no compromises?Hire top talent only, no “lower pieces”.

        1. Pointsandfigures

          My point is that Coinbase isn’t an early stage seed sort of startup anymore. At seed, you try to hire “rockstars” but sometimes you just need someone that can fill the bill to get you to the next stage. Satisfying a position sometimes is better than trying to find the perfect fit and giving up a ton of equity in the process. For example, early on you might need someone that can sell and do fulfillment for customers. That person doesn’t need to be a rockstar who is going to build your sales force post Series A or B. They just need to be capable. The important point at seed is to not hire ass holes and to keep moving forward. If someone doesn’t work out, let them go fast.

          1. Lawrence Brass

            I understand your point, Points :)Rockstars, people living on their current or past glory, doesn’t necesarilly always match top talent in my conception of it. I mean people that thrive on their domains, pushing their envelopes. I’ve seen very young and inexperienced people that have ‘the thing’. Few, true, so it is time consuming to spot and contact them. This applies to executives and everyone else in the company in my opinion.Expensive, maybe, depending on the stage of their professional development you met them. If too good and ambituous they may require more equity, I agree with you on that. It is a balance really, a knob I would prefer to turn towards spending a bit more time and money on having the best team you can.Turning the knob full in the other direction, which is very common here in South America, is a sure path leading to mediocrity in my opinion. However and incredibly enough, still profitable.Supercell is a cool example of this, I followed them before they sold 50%+ to Softbank, now Tencent, focusing on top talent and small team philosophy. True they are in a different business, but year after year they keep revenue strong.Would be interesting to compare payrolls, given that both companies have near 200+ people.

  4. Rob Zakaib

    Interesting take, but the timelines seem extended. What do you do when the hire is for an acquisition and you have 3-4 weeks to get an executive in place?

  5. Pointsandfigures

    If you aren’t always on the hunt for talent for companies that you are invested in as an early stage VC, you aren’t doing your job. Same goes for customers

  6. JLM

    .Love the methodical approach (process) laid out in Brian Armstrong’s post.The challenge with hiring TOP TALENT is that the ones you really want are gainfully employed by someone else. You do not want someone who is LOOKING for a job, you want someone who is DOING a great job.This is where a CEO’s network and contacts can be very useful.This is why using a recruiter is such a critical consideration. They should already have a list of targets.I would make the following points:1. You have to go find the person you want cause they are not looking for you.2. I caution against using hiring committees which create a subtle veto authority. If the CEO should countermand their collective decision, the internal company politics begins the next minute.Do not be afraid to send folks around to be interviewed — it is critical with those who will be peers — but keep your own counsel.You also don’t want the company burdened with some future utterance, “I never liked the guy from the beginning. I told you he would not work out.” Nor do you want someone who did not recommend the guy trying to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy.3. Things like MOC and job descriptions should be worked out way in advance. You are hiring someone to do a job, define the job. I would not even start looking until all this stuff was in order.4. The time line is way too long. It can be shortened by revising a couple of the steps and it can be shortened by doing away with the formal hiring committee (not doing away with the multiple interview POVs, just the administrative and political burden of the committee itself).Another reason to compress the time is to ensure the candidate’s current employer doesn’t have a chance to react and create a bidding war as well as appealing to one’s sense of adventure. When someone is ready to jump, let them jump. Don’t push them.Time is not your ally when getting people to consider big changes in their lives.5. All the above has to change if you are trying to replace someone who is currently with the company. “Joe, BTW, we are searching for your replacement. Thought you might like to know.”CEOs have to put their fingerprints on the murder weapon. They have to own their leadership, and they have to hire people who can embrace their vision for the company.It may feel safer to create a bigger pool of responsibility, but it is an illusion. You have to create and own your own team.In 33 years in business, I had three CFOs. All of them came through recruiters.Every search started with me defining the role, basis of employment, job description, and compensation. I probably took five interviews to hire those three CFOs. I looked at 15 +/- resumes prior to selecting interviewees.The second I finished the interviews, I knew they were the right person. Subsequent performance proved me out.What I always wonder is were there a ton of good candidates or did I just get lucky or pick the right ones? You never really know.Good luck to Coinbase. They seem like a well run company.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. LE

      The challenge with hiring TOP TALENT is that the ones you really want are gainfully employed by someone else. You do not want someone who is LOOKING for a job, you want someone who is DOING a great job.This is so true. Also applies to dating, real estate and a host of other things. The saying I use is ‘all the good merchandise has been snapped up’. The only way to get good merchandise is to pay for it or grab it the minute it goes on the market or have some inside track which eliminates the competition.What I say is a generalization and there are exceptions as with anything.1. You have to go find the person you want cause they are not looking for you.They should be though. The inverse of this and the advice that I have given people that has been used successfully many times in the past is to not go after jobs that have been posted but to go after jobs that don’t even exist and where the company isn’t even looking to hire. That way you will not have the same competition and will be rated just on whether you are qualified and if you fill a need or not. Imagine if Harvard admitted students that way? You weren’t rated in a beauty show.Do not be afraid to send folks around to be interviewed — it is critical with those who will be peers — but keep your own counsel.Will defer to you and what appears to be the conventional wisdom here but the downside of that is you get normalized people who know how to play the game and probably aren’t going to be spectacular. After all likeability and ability are two different things, right? Depends on the position of course. And whether words and interaction can provide feedback that even would matter for the particular job.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        “Likability”? There is a standard remark: “It’s not important that they like you. It’s only important that they respect you.”.

    2. Lawrence Brass

      I guess it is not luck, it is empathy and paying attention to the person you are interacting with. You have that.Best teams I have worked with are usually people that has known each other and worked together previously, proof tested. Good people like being together.I have never done hiring directly, but I don’t know why the few people I know usually call me asking for other people I might know. Trust networks I guess. You can’t be much better or worse than your network is.Having lunch or dinner with candidates is part of your hiring process?

      1. JLM

        .I always made it a point to have breakfast — early as I had a penchant for morning people — and play golf with them.I once decided not to admit a potential partner level person because he “found” his first ball when he hit it into the jungle. He hit a second provisional ball (also into the jungle, consistent) and said he found his “first” one.You find out a lot about a person in 4 hours of golf.I particularly liked to know someone’s background — what their mother/father did, how they paid for school. These were things I considered to have immutable impacts on their character. I liked to know how they met their spouse, what they read, and if they were spiritual.I wanted to know were they organized, punctual, emotional, intelligent, spiritual, thoughtful, hard working. The rest of it is just a learned set of skills. I wanted to know who they were and not so much what they had done.After a round of golf, I usually knew and if I didn’t know that meant something also. There are people out there who interview with extraordinary attractiveness, but you can’t do that for four hours.,JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. sigmaalgebra

          A keeper like the last one. Thanks.

        2. JamesHRH

          My first ever job was in an industry where my boss said (speaking of his Pops and then his management):’ We used to take people to the bar to reveal their character, now we jut take them golfing. Same time investment, better for your liver.’

          1. Vasudev Ram

            This makes me think that there should be some golf jokes, like bar jokes that go like “An XYZ walks into a bar. ….. ” :)Here are a few “walks into a bar” jokes:—A neutron walks into a bar and orders a drink. When the neutron gets his drink, he asks, “Bartender, how much do I owe you?”The bartender replies, “For you, neutron, no charge.”—The bartender says, for you? No charge. A faster than light neutrino walks into a bar and orders a beer.—Infinitely many mathematicians walk into a bar. The first says, “I’ll have a beer.” The second says, “I’ll have half a beer.” The third says, “I’ll have a quarter of a beer.” Before anyone else can speak, the barman fills up exactly two glasses of beer and serves them. “Come on, now,” he says to the group, “You guys have got to learn your limits.”—A penguin walks into a bar, goes to the counter, and asks the bartender, “Have you seen my brother?”The bartender says, “I don’t know. What does he look like?”—The past, present, and future walk into a bar. It was tense.—Charles Dickens walks into a bar and orders a martini. The bartender asks, “Olive or Twist?”—A man walks into a bar with a chunk of asphalt under one arm. The man says, “Beer, please, and one for the road.”—A mushroom walks into a bar and orders a drink. The bartender tells him to get out. The mushroom says, “Why? I’m a fun-guy.”—A brain goes into a bar and says to the bartender, “I’ll have a pint, please.”The bartender says, “Sorry, I can’t serve you. You’re out of your head.”—

          2. JamesHRH

            These are great.One of my faves:Duck walks into a bar, asks if they have olives.Bartender says, ” Nope, Cherries. Nuts. Lemon & lime wedges. No olives. “Duck walks in the next three days, at the same time, asks the same question. Gets the same answer.On the fifth day, bartender flips out when asked the olive question and says ‘ If you come in here tomorrow and ask me that question, I am going to hammer your webbed feet into the floor!!!! “On the sixth day, Duck walks in at the usual time and asks ‘ Got any nails? ‘

          3. Vasudev Ram

            That’s a good one too. I suppose the next question Duck asks is if they have any olives.

          4. JamesHRH


          5. ShanaC

            limits *snorts*

          6. Vasudev Ram

            It was a math joke. Some infinite series (like 1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + …) tend asymptotically to a limit.

          7. ShanaC

            I’m laughing really hard that I’m snorting. I get the joke ( engaged to a mathematician after all…)

          8. Vasudev Ram

            Oh cool.

        3. BillMcNeely

          I can usually only handle 9 holes of golf. So I wouldn’t make it too far

          1. JLM

            .Baloney, you are a combat veteran. You could handle 18 holes. Plus, no mortar fire and no landmines.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          2. BillMcNeely

            I like being good at stuff. Golf is a game like shooting weapons that takes practice

          3. JamesHRH

            Yes, but it is a game that can be mastered through sheer effort and discipline.

        4. Lawrence Brass

          Never thought golf was that important. :)I recall my brother and I accompained my mother at the times she took golf lessons. So we would follow her and the instructor playing our own game as the instructor ignored us completely. As she was rather petite, her golf sticks were good for us. Good times.I could drive the cart though, I am a good driver.

          1. Vasudev Ram

            >Never thought golf was that important. :)I’ve heard it said that in the US and similar countries, more business deals are done (or at least closed) on the golf course (at least deals that are somewhat high-level and above (in terms of deal value or the rank of execs doing them) than in biz offices or boardrooms :)I too have been with my dad on a golf course a few times, since he worked for a US company and used to go golfing sometimes on weekends with the other execs, including visiting US ones. Never played golf myself, though I enjoyed being on the golf links with the wide open spaces and sunshine. Used to climb up some of the obstacles like ropes and poles (it was an army golf course, parts of which doubled as an obstacle course to train the men).

        5. Chimpwithcans

          Yes Sir – The beauty of golf is what it reveals in the player. I have played golf well and often, but my appreciation of the depth of the game only started happening after a particular incident. The game (inevitably) got away from me. Hook, slice, thick, thin. My temper went through the roof. I was playing with my father, who went very quiet until the end of the hole when he asked if I was done. He said he was not interested in playing further with me unless I was done. I was WAY too old for such a tantrum, and golf brought it out of me like I was under a spell. I was mortified. I’ll never forget it for some reason. I gained a new level of patience, and a respect for golf as a test of character. It’s a really beautiful game. I can see how a job interview through golf would really work.

          1. JLM

            .Father and son golf is a treasure.I used to play with my son — who I forced to take golf lessons because he would never listen to me. He has a beautiful, long, smooth swing that you can only get by playing with adult clubs when you are 10.There are so many lessons to be learned on a golf course and dealing with adversity and failure are at the top of the heap.I was 4 under coming into 16 with #1 son and he says, “Dad, you’re really shooting great today.”Bogey, bogey, bogey.There is, of course, that.I used to play golf with all of my execs and use it as a time to let them unburden themselves of everything — that thing in the back of their mind that keeps them up at night.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    3. sigmaalgebra

      Yup, kept that one: Copied, abstracted, indexed, with keywords and a pointer in my central place for things to remember, put it where can easily find it! Thanks, I may need that!Political sensitivities and insights — WOW!So, to be crude, Big Dog should stay in control, not dilute control, should maintain authority and respect, not make it easy for a committee to become a group that might build a consensus to resist or attack Big Dog, keep it clear that the person doing the hiring, the responsible person, is Big Dog. Big Dog is not little puppy looking for love, affection, approval, guidance, leadership, praise, etc.

    4. CJ

      1)I’m surprised you’re not working at a top executive recruiting company – besides having already made a pile – you’d be great at it. I’ve worked for and around some of the best and they all echo a lot of what you’ve said.2) Another reason to compress the time is to ensure the candidate’s current employer doesn’t have a chance to react and create a bidding war as well as appealing to one’s sense of adventure. When someone is ready to jump, let them jump. Don’t push them.Time is not your ally when getting people to consider big changes in their lives.I actually just had this happen to me personally. I saw a job posting for a job that I knew I’d be awesome at and that I was rather interested in doing, I reached out, interviewed, they loved me(or so they said to me and the recruiter), said an offer was imminent and then the waiting began. Two weeks later the offer came and by then I had TWO other offers from existing clients and they cemented to me that they were a company that couldn’t get things done(tm). So I passed and they have regrets but I have none.Long story short, had they just pulled the trigger while I was excited and they were excited then I would have accepted immediately and happily ever after. Time is the enemy.

      1. JamesHRH

        Yup, as someone who is married to the type of person @JLM is talking about recruiting, she has only ever been recruited successfully once….and they moved fast. Others have not and it has not worked out.Decisive people like decisive people.That being said, if Brian is methodical and patient, he likely wants those type of people on his team, so his process likely works for them.But, groupthink culture alert?

        1. LE

          Decisive people like decisive people.Getting people to act fast and not giving them a chance to think can also be a ploy to prevent them from making the right decision.

          1. JamesHRH

            Yes, but the type of person @jlm is talking about can linearly & fairly rapidly work through the situation.Tricking people into becoming part of your exec team is a bad plan, IMHO.

          2. Matt A. Myers

            Getting caught up in hype and overthinking – I wouldn’t want to hire someone where this is the case, however I’m not sure how you’d distinguish someone who’d be passionate, who’s really excited and who’s just caught up in the moment.

      2. JLM

        .Nobody should ever say: “An offer is imminent.” They should just make a damn offer.I’ve hired a bunch of people by handing them a written offer and telling them I wanted them on my team. People want to be WANTED.You have to close the damn deal when the deal is hot. Recruiting is not like Viagra. Nobody is going to be calling the doctor four hours later.Good CEOs are decisive as Hell.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. PhilipSugar

          Anybody that has been doing deals for any period of time knows:Time is the enemy of ALL deals.I don’t care what you are doing or how much you are committing.Make the decision and do the deal or not do the deal.There are so many variables that will screw up a deal if you allow time.

          1. LE

            Time is the enemy of ALL deals.So true in most cases. One of the things that goes out the window is the “U” in FUD once time is no longer a factor.That said there is nothing that I like better than a salesman chasing me when I have already decided to buy what he is selling. That is the point where I know I will be able to drive the price down from whatever the last quote was. The thing I hate the most is the salesman that doesn’t chase me in the same circumstance or the one who chases when I have no interest in buying.

          2. PhilipSugar

            That is why they should teach sales at Wharton. We are already known as Blue Collar versus Chicago, Yale, MIT, or Harvard.If you ask Patrick Harker then dean, then President of UofD and now President of Philadelphia Fed who I am he would say: That guy who always pushes us to teach sales.So right.It is why too many salespeople are bad: Chasing you, drive the price down, desperate losing the sale.Too many chasing you when you have no interest: Wasting time.I don’t need high pressure or exploding term sheets, but what I do want is: This is our offer today. Subject to change tomorrow.No pressure. Might go higher might go lower, but as Pointsandfigures will tell you options aren’t free.I get you a price in a day, you make a decision in a day.If it takes me a week, you get a week.

          3. LE

            I will state the obvious that to learn sales you have to spend time doing sales. Also being observant and on the other end of many transactions where you are the customer or client. And even then everybody is different what works for me (or you) might not work for someone else because they are slightly off in their technique or implementation. So maybe instead of that trip to Europe when you are in college you can go out and have a sales job.Here is one and maybe I mentioned this one before on AVC. It’s what I called ‘the one that got away’. That was asking for pricing from vendors that I dealt with (in this case for paper let’s say) and then telling them the order went to ‘the other guy’. The vendors would then think you were doing much more business than you were doing. Used to drive them crazy. Of course there was no other guy or order. And someone else doing this technique would probably screw it up.The other thing that works good with buyers is when they miss out on something. That is what drives a great deal of the crazy pricing in NY Real estate as only one example.There is nothing a salesman likes more than not pressuring you and then when you finally say you are ready they say ‘oh I sold that already’.

          4. PhilipSugar

            My point is this. Yes, you only get great by doing it, but don’t be bad by not learning it. Start off: Ok. That is why you learn.

          5. PhilipSugar

            You have stated the exact reason that “smarty pants armchair economists” get it so wrong.I have an Econ Degree from Wharton for anybody else reading this.Your behavior which is totally rational and expected breaks the demand supply curve to hell. Professor Aronson who lurks here sometimes would totally agree. He had a course where you you would be the supplier or the buyer. (For beer of course) All sorts of behavior like you describe.

    5. JamesHRH

      The timeline caught my eye as excessive. But, better to err on cautious?

      1. JLM

        .No, I think there are some things you do at full game speed.Caution is the refuge of those lacking confidence in their own judgment. They are looking for a pill to make the problem go away.When a winner meets a winner, they know. It works both ways.Pheromones.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    6. Matt A. Myers

      Bookmarked this post into my CEO folder so I run into it and your comment again in the future. +1

  7. JaredMermey

    What does the funnel look like in terms of # of candidates still remaining at each stage? (Rule of thumb estimates)

  8. ShanaC

    Why can’t this be added to MBA monday?

  9. Raj Raman

    ” The best candidates are doing a great Job somewhere”- Valid however not I would limit Executive search to Search committees, Executive recruiters. I would be open to meeting prospects in same industry or related segments who reach out directly provided they are able to demonstrate confidence, have high energy levels and display an uncommon yet deep interest and hunger towards the role and mission. Such prospects tend to former Entrepreneurs or Exec themselves.My point- Be willing to listen if a rock star knocks your door directly. Of course, put him/her through rest of the process.

  10. Raj Raman

    One more- “scale up to 400 people” Some companies esp Amazon, Intuit etc work in smaller teams and measure impact as opposed to number of people in your orgFor the modern day tech company, I would be hesitant to use org # as a primary filter to identify prospects…instead query impact achieved and ask how did they achieve that