Leading The People Side Of The Organization

In yesterday’s post, which seemed to touch a nerve, something I certainly seek to do from time to time, I mentioned the “talent organizations” of our portfolio companies. These are the people who help a founder/CEO build and lead the people who make up the company. It’s an undervalued and under-discussed function.

I have heard multiple founder/CEOs tell me that the biggest sigh of relief they had in building their companies was when they finally hired a really strong leader to sit at their side and help them with the people side of the business. It is not even accurate to say “people side of the business”. People are the business!

I recently listed to two Reboot podcasts in which my friend and former partner Jerry Colonna talked with two people leaders, Nathalie McGrath at Coinbase, and Patty McCord, former people leader at Netflix.

It is worth spending the almost two hours it will take to listen to these two podcasts.

What you will hear from Nathalie is the challenge of marrying a high stress, high performing culture and the concept of work-life balance. It is a near-impossible challenge, but simply trying to make it so is a where you must start. You can’t fake it. It has to be something you want to do and need to do.

What you will hear from Patty is a disdain for the platitudes and processes that you get from most organizations. She and her partner in this work, Reed Hastings, wanted to do it their way and in the process created a culture that is the envy of many tech companies.

And, I hope, you will come away from the two hours of listening, with an appreciation for the job of leading the people team. The people who do this work well are rare and valuable and if you don’t have one by your side, you should go find one.


Comments (Archived):

  1. jason wright

    Gluten Morgen. I hope not. Bad for the nervous system.Rhetorically i ponder whether most people are conditioned (by upbringing, education, society generally) to wait to be told what to do? Almost a fear (paralysis) of trying to make it happen without instruction, especially within an organisational structure. everyone defaulting to a passive mode.

    1. creative group

      jason wright:The many factors required to become successful ultimately leads to the people on your team.Ask Lebron James. The talent of the Miami Heat championship years verses 2017-18 Cleveland Cavaliers are not equal in any aspect.It definitely is the people….Some people can be coached up and others will fall short.Captain Obvious!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT

      1. jason wright

        i think it’s the environment, and a bad one can be replaced with a good one, and the person can learn new tricks. it takes time to do that, but don’t give up on people just because they’re a bit slow to adapt.in sports its about recognising unrealised talent, developing it (adding value), and perhaps selling it on at a good profit. John Henry knows this. Loris Karius was whisked off to Massachussetts to have a brain evaluation from a couple of friendly doctors to protect the player’s transfer market value after his ‘shocker’ in the Champions League against Real Madrid.It’s also like building with Meccano (see Frank Hornby, inventor with no formal engineering education or training – didn’t stop him) bits and pieces. the right pieces in the right places.

  2. William Mougayar

    When I get asked what made HP special back in their hey day (prior to Fiorina as CEO), and why they were among the most admired company year after year, my answer is always: its people. (i worked there 1982-1995)If you hire A people, they will hire other A people. If you start hiring B people, they will hire C people, and it goes downhill from there.

    1. jason wright

      everyone has potential. categorising as A, B, C, et.c. i’m not sure is helpful. It’s that whole discredited education system grading process. in the UK is was born out of the class system, which still today results in unwavering social (economics in disguise) immobility. i’m a Z.

      1. William Mougayar

        But you might be an A in a given environment.Thing is, there are values and standards that companies adhere to, and in a team environment, you either fit or you don’t.

      2. Lawrence Brass

        As far as I know Cambridge Crapalytica was a full hand of As…..

        1. jason wright

          the perfect fit. A pegs in A holes.Having watched Alexander NIx’s most recent joust with UK MPs it began to cross my mind that he might be closer to UK intelligence agencies than the commercial contracts suggest i.e. a spook.

          1. Lawrence Brass

            They said they worked with sub-contracted intel people for some of their non-toothpaste operations.

    2. Frank W. Miller

      HP is not a startup

      1. William Mougayar

        Yup, but back in the day when I worked there, it had a startup culture. Nonetheless, there are Management basics that apply everywhere. Startups don’t have to reinvent people management.

        1. Frank W. Miller

          With respect, there are two things I will take issue with in your response. First, a multi-tens-of-thousands of employees company can never have the same needs and culture as an actual startup, no matter how mgmt tries to push that label on them.Second, I’ve work in small and large companies, academia, and the Federal govt. They are all different. The needs and expectations of the employees are different and the management styles MUST be different. See my comment below. None of these attributes were required at HP (70 hour weeks for months and years at a time, performance on a daily basis under threat of termination, and significant equity positions, i.e. percentages) Your managers can slap the marketdroid/nouveau mgmt fad “startup culture” label on it all they want but that does not make it so.

    3. Guy Lepage

      100%. I would go further in saying that with the first 5-10 hires, you should be an A player and hire A+ players. Always try to hire people who are smarter than you.

      1. PhilipSugar


    4. Sid

      Do you know how much an A person costs in Bay Area?

      1. ErikSchwartz

        Yup. You have to hire them on the vision, not on cash comp alone. They have to believe that the world will be different for what they are doing, not just that they will get rich.You can poach A players from Apple, Google, FB, but you can’t do it by matching salary and RSUs.

        1. LE

          They have to believe that the world will be differentMore power to you if you can do this Eric. Honestly the vast majority of what people are doing (and hiring for … and I don’t even know what you are doing btw.) is not going to change the world or even come close or even end up as significant in any way. That ‘vision’ line is honestly just taking advantage of their naivete. Once again I think that’s fine and ok if you do this (I do not hold myself up as some kind of non bs person or holier than you) but the truth is it’s really all such BS. This explains a great deal of the liberal culture in SV and startup land. It’s all based on non concrete idealism.One last thing that ‘get rich’ is the underlying theme. If it weren’t none of this ‘thing of ours’ would exist. The ‘change the world’ is just a way to justify it so it doesn’t appear to be ‘dirty’. Kind of like justified killing vs. murder in a court of law.

          1. ErikSchwartz

            I am running the digital platform for the AAF, a new spring American Football league.The vision is to re-invent live sports TV. The reason we think we can do it is that we own the league, all the teams, and all the broadcast and digital rights. We are not being held back by legacy deals or practices. Those legacy deals are the reason the folks who have tried this in the past have failed. We have a blank slate and more than adequate funding.Improving live sports TV is actually a vision that people will sign up for.

          2. PhilipSugar

            Interesting. Legalization of Sports Betting (we run those rewards platforms) must help.

          3. ErikSchwartz

            It is certainly an interesting development.

          4. LE

            Listen I wish you (personally) good luck with this.However noting first that first while I am not a sports fan I think you have a really big mountain to climb. The reason is it’s not about the sports it’s about the secondary meaning that has been brainwashed into people by others about sports. In other words the brand value of the established major leagues that everyone has grown up with. [1]Also I see from a story on this the following sentence:The plan, like the XFL, is to stock the league with players who don’t make it onto NFL rosters. How can you therefore position this ‘product’? The world is moving more toward rockstars and winner take all. How does the ‘b’ team invoke a loyal audience?Those legacy deals are the reason the folks who have tried this in the past have failed. I see the failure as a result of lack of underlying recognition of the biggest reason sports are so big. Social acceptance that is well entrenched. The secondary meaning ‘my Dad was into it’. Not everyone but enough to float the boat. Widespread main media attention as ‘the real thing’. Look at what is lavished just during Superbowl week and how even non sports fans get into the excitement. Geez even I tune in to that here and there.That said I guess it depends on what would make this a success. I am sure you are not saying this will come anywhere close to the current major leagues but could still be a success.[1] This is the reason someone will buy a Porsche but never a Kia that even outperformed a Porsche and looked as nice. Nobody grew up wanting a Kia.

          5. Andrew Cashion

            this is interesting, i just checked out your site and one thought that came to mind was busting on American coaching styles, specifically coaches don’t seem to like to put new players in games that are not percieved as a pure bread player. This is true for american soccer, and suspect it is not for european football. however i would tend to think the exploitation of uncreative coaching is a vein that may be something

          6. Lawrence Brass

            Hey Andrew! Nice to see you around again.

          7. Andrew Cashion

            hey thanks lawrence, been learning taking some time to improve, quit day job, not recommended

          8. Lawrence Brass

            Its the way of our nomad ancestors. They walked, then settled for a while then walked again..I wish you luck in your endeavors.

          9. Salt Shaker

            Good luck w/ this. Certainly the league has a stable of seasoned execs on both the media and league mgt side, but, respectfully, I have to ask, is there a mkt need? The NFL is still the Holy Grail and yet their audience was down 9% last year. XFL tried a similar off-season approach (w/ Ebersol also) and it didn’t fare well. One could certainly make a case that w/ broadband and OTT growth, the entertainment landscape is even more competitive today than when XFL launched, which similarly sourced talent from NFL and CFL castoffs. Brings back memories of “He Hate Me” (an XFL player printed this instead of his name on back of his jersey).

          10. ErikSchwartz

            The problem with the XFL was Vince. Vince didn’t hire anyone who knew anything about football. The player talent will not be the challenge. The play will be far better than even the best college football (and no one complains about that). We already have vastly more coaching and general management talent on the football side than the XFL did.We’re getting rid of TV timeouts. We’re reducing the play clock. Both of these will lead to a game with both better flow and a shorter time frame (we expect a sub 2.5 hour game). That is one of the biggest complaints that NFL fans have. All games are available for free, everywhere.NFL numbers have ticked down but they are still several times higher than all other sports TV number COMBINED.But from my perspective running the platform team? Football is the reference app. We can change the way sports are covered even if our reference app fails. The XFL football failed, but many of their innovations in coverage are now mainstream (skycam, miked players, etc). If the XFL had taken an equity stake in Skycam they could have become Bamtech or Sportsvision.

          11. JLM

            .The talent pool in college to the pros is very deep. Talent will not be the problem.The presence of the Internet, unlimited streaming, additional cable outlets all are different than the last time this was tried.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          12. ErikSchwartz

            Every year the NFL cuts nearly 1000 of some of the best college players out there. They just don’t have that many jobs.Integrated fantasy at a finer resolution than game by game. Data-casting of stats synchronized with the video and integrated in a customizable and interactive way. Real time telemetry off of the players. It is a whole new world.

          13. Adam Sher

            How will you bring consistent sponsorship and ticket sales, which is something the Arena Football League struggles with? In addition, the arenas are expensive to rent. The AFL It didn’t survive the last recession and needed a few years to re-org and reboot.Good luck!

          14. ErikSchwartz

            One of the challenges that both arena football and the USFL had were the teams were franchises. As a single entity (no team owners) we can amortize the risk of any single market over the rest of the teams.We are also protected from moron owners. The idiotic owner of the NJ Generals in the USFL forced the league to switch from spring to fall in order to compete directly with the NFL and to force a merger. This plan failed spectacularly and the USFL died because of it. I hope that moron never gets an important job again because he is the worst deal maker ever and has no strategic vision.

          15. Adam Sher

            Thanks for the info

        2. PhilipSugar

          That is why it is so brutal to start a company in the bay area. When you hit a bump and they question the vision and if they are not changing the world………they will be gone. And unless you are very, very lucky, there will be bumps. Just like sailing…..sometimes you get beautiful days with perfect winds…….other times you are just holding on trying to weather the storm. Problem is…..those recruiters will be calling. Sure they say they won’t……..insert joke here.

          1. LE

            and if they are not changing the worldPer my comment below the idealism wears off when they realize a) they are not doing anything life changing and b) they won’t get rich and c) they see others that are at the very least getting ‘b’ and possibly even ‘a’.

          2. PhilipSugar

            That recruiter will be selling the next vision. I don’t know how people do it. $150k and you are poor in the Bay Area. You are rich in so many other places.

      2. William Mougayar

        I’m not talking about prima donnas types.The cheapest way to get an A person is to hire them young, groom them and train them properly. You hire based on potential and basic traits they have.

    5. ErikSchwartz

      I am hiring engineer five through ten now. I am driving my outside recruiters nuts with the standards I (and the team I have already hired) are insisting we stick to.

      1. William Mougayar

        I agree with your approach.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        Was recently recruiting a VP People with experience scaling teams and did a survey of the candidates, asking what were the most important lessons they had learned. One frequent response was that a critical lesson learned was not to lower standards in order to meet intense hiring requirements of rapid growth.I don’t know your exact situation, but “bravo”!

      3. Daneal Charney

        Yes keep to them IF your standards predictive of performance. Do all your current high performers meet these standards? Often I see hiring requirements that really aren’t predictive, just based on our own bias.

    6. LE

      As it happens I was impressed when I found out you had worked at HP. It had great ‘secondary meaning’ for me.

      1. William Mougayar

        14 very formative years.Was very happy during that time, had about 7 jobs, worked up and down and across the organization. Amazing memories, learnings and relationships.

    7. JamesHRH

      The issue though is people management.Every large company tends to hire people into senior HR roles who are not execution or deliverables based. HR should be the home of hard choices, but it never is.’You are not doing good enough to work here’ is almost never the motto of a senior HR person.

      1. William Mougayar

        I disagree somewhat. As HP managers, we rated then ranked employees. The bottom 10% knew it, and either they improved or the writing was on the wall. The culture was a performance culture. Numbers speak.

    8. JLM

      .This is a platitude – one I subscribe to completely on an intellectual basis, particularly at the top of the food chain.Having run companies and having hired, literally, thousands of people, I caution that not everybody in a 500-1000 person company can be a rock star.The other challenge – see my earlier comment on training – is what do you hire? Potential? Accomplishment?My answer is some of both.In the most elite military units — SF, Rangers, paratroopers, combat engineers (elite because all of the officers have to be degreed engineers) – it is the training which sets apart the unit from the rest of the Army.We all got the same basic raw material, but the unit and individual training was what imprinted the individuals and units as “elite.”Some of the training provides a first step screen. In my Ranger class, only 50% got the tab.”Hire A people for A jobs, if you can, but be prepared to train the B’s to become A’s.”JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. LE

        I caution that not everybody in a 500-1000 person company can be a rock star.This is true. However I will say what I have said to people about the best part of attending a private school and an IVY League school. It’s not about the actual education. You can get that in many places. And it’s not even about the branding (although to be sure that is a big deal and I can prove that worth every penny don’t kid yourself). It’s about what? The fact that the overwhelming group of people you are around are highly motivated and not slackers and take what they are doing seriously. They work hard. They care. They want to get ahead. They drive those who don’t. (Kids are social animals obviously).At least in the schools that I went to most of the people were all ‘high capacity circuits’. Raised by high capacity circuits or at least people who pushed their kids ‘asian style’ and those people lifted the people who weren’t (you know the people who got in because they donated money or were good looking). That is the largest benefit by far. The group raises the standards. People are more on the ball and aren’t shit that you find that is goofing off. Really important point and you have to experience it to believe it.Since you went to VMI you know this. I am sure it wasn’t like going to some public college. You know it wasn’t “Temple O”. [1] People wanted to be there. People wanted to go somewhere. They weren’t my wife’s nephew who is taking a gap year to explore an idiotic no talent music career.[1] The derogatory reference made in Philly to Temple University which as John Bunting (former Bank President) used to say when people asked him where he went and he said Temple they said ‘oh’.

        1. Rick Mason

          I learned a very important lesson when I was a freshman in college. In high school I was always among the smartest guys in my peer group. When I arrived at college I was put on a dorm floor of super achievers, guys with perfect 1600 SAT’s. I was the dumbest guy there and I had to really struggle to not be overwhelmed.But during that year I made amazing progress and really elevated my game. I made it my life long goal to always be the dumbest guy in my peer group and it’s paid some amazing dividends.

          1. LE

            Well my experience was quite a bit different. In high school I worked really hard and would never be considered anything close to one of the smartest guys in my peer group (academically). In fact one teacher told me I was not “Ivy League Material”. [1] I ended up getting in though after a bit of hard non academic work you might say. I figured out an angle and it worked. That is what I do. Anyway once I was accepted at the beginning in class I was sitting next to one of those guys who got the 1600’s on the SAT’s. I remember actually how he didn’t know what I knew and ended up asking me questions and relying on me. That is where I first pretty much encountered the idea of ‘book smart’. He had no adversity and it showed in how he looked at things. That was a tremendous confidence booster. Doesn’t even matter if that was an outlier case or not. I remember the moment it happened. And it just changed my entire perspective on what ‘smart’ was. I never struggled in college at all. I worked hard and all the time. I was used to not getting all A’s in high school. As a result in the end I did great (literally all A’s actually) in college. The guys who usually got all A’s (and got in with the best grades) had never worked hard and they were the ones who had a hard time because they weren’t used to the effort. Anyway that is the way I will spin the story. Anecdote not scientific. But I did note a great deal of people who fell apart when competing with others who were at the top (what you are saying). I was not that guy for me it was just keep on working hard.[1] Here she is. Ann Renniger. I’ve mentioned her on AVC before. She is now a ‘chair’ professor at Swarthmore (which she went on to do after teaching high school) and actually does education research.https://www.swarthmore.edu/

      2. Rob Larson

        Reminds me of a conversation I heard about – where a senior military leader was talking about leadership, and people from elite companies (hedge funds, i-banks, consultants) were asking him about how to get the most out of their people (my friend, a senior partner at Bain, was in attendance and related the story to me). The general responded something along the lines of, “Look, our people do extraordinary things, but not because they come to us that way. Most of our people would have been considered average or below average by civilian employers before they joined us – very few of them would have received an offer from any of your companies. So our job is to take the people we can get (most of whom your companies would have rejected as applicants) and then we turn them into people who can do extraordinary things.”

        1. JLM

          .Interesting comment on multiple fronts:1. There are very few individual scorecards in the military. After a success, you may get a medal for the character of your individual contribution, but the military doesn’t reward losses. If your unit gets creamed, there are no individual rewards.2. The military does get better raw material than ever before. In the officer corps, the men/women coming out of the military academies and the senior military schools are the best they have ever been.I recently gave a speech at VMI and I was overwhelmed with the quality of the education and the quality of the cadets. At least 10X when I was there 45 years ago.3. There is almost no leadership training in America today. This is why military school grads are in demand in appropriate positions.The military has the ability to take raw recruits and turn them into skillful practitioners of an advanced skill because they know how to train them.Even when a man doesn’t go to the right school, his unit teaches him. I used to teach explosives for my combat engineer battalion. It was a demanding course, but my guys had a 100% success rate on the tests.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        2. BillMcNeely

          Having been in the Marine Corps, Navy and Army, that statement is really true with folks in the Army. In the Navy it’s highly technical so you have to be for the most part smarter than the average bear. In the Marine Corps, you will get folks who have either been high achieving or are highly motivated to achieve much.The Army is the everyman/woman of American society most who I ran across really had just been average, achieving nothing of note till graduating basic. But afterward, that is a different story. Folks receive training, technical physical and in life and are able to break away from their family and hometown, full of low expectations, perform to their previously unknown capability.

          1. JLM

            .Quite a record of service, Bill, you swabbie, Leatherneck, ground pounder.Is the Air Farce next?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    9. JLM

      .HP was the rare company which made it from the garage to the NYSE. It is legendary.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. LE

        Which makes me think why, as a cornerstone of marketing, wework doesn’t talk more about the people who start by renting at wework and then end up becoming real companies with real offices. Or for that matter even Regus. You never hear about anything like that although I am sure it exists.If I had more time I’d pitch Regus on doing something like this. Which hard to believe wouldn’t help them marketing wise. Especially if they beat Wework to the punch. Large pool of renters someone has to have hit it big and they can take credit for it.

        1. JLM

          .You identify a great point. A successful company leaves them when they are successful.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        2. sbmiller5

          This was core to the Marketing strategy we employed when I was at Galvanize (kind of a competitor to WeWork).

    10. Lawrence Brass

      Hire people that care about helping turning a C into a B or a B into an A. Then forget the labels and work hard and as a team.

  3. awaldstein

    YupAs someone who has never worked for a large company that I didn’t help build from the ground up, the pulse–and stress–of this has been with me my entire career.I used to think that paydays made it all ok for all the stuff that leads to it. Now I realize its the long game where that in itself is not enough to justify the means often,

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Hard lesson learned for me as a recruiter — not to excuse a founder’s bad behavior due to the strain of building a startup. Success does not alter this. Becoming more selective of the clients I work with as the years go by.

      1. awaldstein

        Interesting and nuanced discussion.I worked as an exec for some of the most brilliant and challenging individuals in the industry. Both CEOs and board members.Many are still friends. But behavior back then and now are simply not in the same realm.You can embrace the present without condemning the past in some things. This is one for me.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          Did that behavior change due to maturity?

          1. awaldstein

            Not particularly even though their success was quite considerable.What changed was me! I respect these individuals, owe a lot to them, learned a ton but forged my own style of management and negotiation quickly.I’ve spent my career in startups from a position of being the small player and you learn a different tune.

  4. Russell

    HR people quitting is a great leading indicator of bad things to come for a company. They have great insight into the internal mechanics as well as day to day experience trying to “sell” the company to candidates. If they are heading out the door watch out!

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Wise words.But, especially if the person excels in this type of role. Sometimes this move indicates the opposite. For instance, startups will sometimes move someone into the HR role (such as the CEO’s EA) with limited expectations for the role. A transition occurs when the CEO’s understanding of HR evolves and/or the company reaches the point of needing someone with more sophisticated skills.

  5. jason wright

    do ‘we’ benefit from this?;https://medium.com/bloomber…the ever greater consolidation of our data in the hands of ever fewer corps is not a good thing. does the US have a ‘monopolies and mergers’ process to evaluate the public interest in these kind of deals, or is web tech given a free pass every time?

  6. PhilipSugar

    We don’t call it HR we call it TC (Talent and Culture) But I will say Talent defines Culture. The biggest thing that a TC person can do is to work with people on how they increase their talent, and get everyone thinking about how to help increase everyone else’s talent.The one thing I cannot stand is having people in “HR” listen to people complain about others. That breeds politics like nothing else. I also can’t stand if they try and rank people or identify “high performers”.This is the job of the manager. And if somebody is a star database architect, do you know what? They need to keep getting paid more not have to think they need to go into “management” to make money. You know why? Their talent is going to be wasted and your culture is going to suffer because when they manage somebody they are going to get disgusted because the new database person is not going to be as good.Good T&C people realize that.

    1. JamesHRH

      Great choice in label for this function.

      1. PhilipSugar

        I didn’t make it up, and I at first mocked it. But it is right. Your people are not “resources” they are your company.

    2. JLM

      .”Talent defines Culture.”Not so. Values define culture.The founder/CEO’s personal values are the foundation for culture in any startup.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. PhilipSugar

        We can quibble. Your values define who you hire, your hires are the foundation of the culture. If Ben and Jerry’s hires a bunch of mercenaries from Procter and Gamble or Kraft, I don’t care what their values are. I know what their culture will be.

        1. JLM

          .I think you are agreeing with me while trying not to.To the Ben & Jerrys example. It is abundantly clear that they would not hire a bunch of P&G/Kraft folks unless they fit into the value driven culture of B & J.When you report into a Ranger unit, nobody is suggesting the talent will drive or change the culture. The culture is rooted deeply and you will adhere to it or you will hit the road.” . . . your hires are the foundation of the culture.”Not a chance. Your – founder/CEO – values are the foundation of the culture. Period.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Lawrence Brass

            I could swear I heard that line in Singapore. 🙂

          2. JLM

            .You have to pinch yourself when you review what just happened. A couple of bullshitters who flung horrible names at each other, who threatened to nuke each other, got together for a bit of lunch and, supposedly, have agreed to the denuclearization of Korea.The visual messaging was breathtaking. It was like speed dating.Candidate Trump rewrote the entire body of political messaging, name calling, campaigning, going over the head of the media, and politics – on the cheap.Meanwhile, President Trump has decided to openly mix diplomacy, military power, trade, and economic development.If the guy walked on water, his opponents would say, “See the son of a bitch doesn’t even know how to swim.”Can you imagine what this part-time, inexperienced amateur can accomplish once he gets a handle on this stuff?Is this a great time to be alive or what? Guy is headed to Mt Rushmore.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          3. sigmaalgebra

            “… Mount Rushmore” while his opponent, a real “loser”, is getting an orange jumpsuit.The difference is monumental, and for that the race was WAY too close. Maybe I’ll reconsider religion?

          4. JLM

            .OK, maybe the Mt Rushmore comment was a bit over the top.If you re-consider religion, re-consider organized religion.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          5. sigmaalgebra

            Rushmore? He has a good shot at that — or something equivalent if there is no more room on the mountain. IIRC, I made this claim on this blog long ago.Why? How?Why: There’s a lot that needs doing. He outlined a lot of it in his campaign. As we can see now, he’s been taking those campaign promises seriously.If he does all of those, then it’s a Rushmore situation.How? Well, he’s awash in ideas both about what to do and how to get it done. He gets a lot of the best advice, is a bright guy, and learns really fast. Then he sees ways through the maze, weeds, jungle, etc.(A) ISIS was a nasty problem. So, apparently with Mattis, see a way to a solution on the battlefield — Iraqi soldiers with US leadership, training, air, materiel. Use one or more of the Gulf State bases for B-1’s, etc. Then, get Baghdad to go along. Keep down screaming from the other Gulf States, the Saudis, the Iranians, the Turks, and the Russians. Ignore whatever Assad says. WOO!!!! That’s one heck of good job working through the weeds. Fast. Darned low US blood. Likely relatively low US treasure. Mission Accomplished.During the campaign, all Trump said was that he was going to “Bomb the shit out of ISIS.”. That was simplistic and crude but basically correct.(B) Assad? When it was time to teach Assad a second chemistry lesson, Trump got it done, “surgical strike”, with, IIRC, the French and British while telling the Russians, hint, hint, either stay in your barracks or enjoy a cruise in the Aegean or some such. Worked great. More nice work finding a path through the weeds.(C) For NK? Just get Australia, Viet Nam, Japan, China, and South Korea all on board, without Russia causing trouble, use three aircraft carrier battle groups, … and get the ball rolling nicely in Singapore. Much tougher than herding cats. IIRC Pompeo has explained that the next big step will be in about a week. If NK does their homework, then we can go to Step Two. Else it’s back to …. China is going along. Russia is causing no problems. Japan is patient and cooperative; so is SK. Nice work finding a path through the weeds.But for domestic projects? For that, in part, Trump needs more seats in Congress, especially the Senate. Well, the elections are coming up. Trump Tweets support for R candidates he likes. IIRC there’s a Trump rally in Duluth, MN on Wednesday!!! I.e., Trump is campaigning.Then, with more seats in Congress, Trump can move faster on his campaign promises for domestic policy.Then 2 1/2 more years, reelection, then on the way to really significant MAGA and Mount Rushmore.Just compare:Obama flopped on getting the economy going and did nothing about ISIS or NK. Basically Obama was just having parties in the WH and didn’t have a clue about how to get stuff done. For ruining the US health care system, he had Nancy do that!W went wacko and did Gulf War II — wasted a LOT of US blood and treasure — and permitted the bubble to grow that burst in 2008. W was just plain DUMB. NOT a bright guy. What is it, talent always skips a generation? The story of wealthy American families is rags to rags in three generations — or a least only a few generations.Republicans before Trump? They kept trying to serve their special interests, neglecting everything else, with “open borders” and “globalism”, or via “The New American Century” stuff causing trouble, and, then, losing elections, e.g., even to Obama, twice.So, Trump looks really good in comparison.So, what is the Trump secret? People who get to high office via politics get convinced that next to nothing can be done; so, they haven’t done good things, don’t know how to do good things, are convinced that good things can’t be done, don’t do good things, and good things don’t get done. Simple. Instead, Trump rose outside of politics, got stuff done, and is convinced that stuff CAN be done. Then he’s bright enough and, net, effective enough to get good things done and gets them done.What he’s trying to do is not obscure at all: It was all in his campaign and will no doubt also be in his Duluth rally.So, he gets that stuff done, MAGA; we compare with other US presidents; and, presto, bingo, it’s a Rushmore situation. No hype, no exaggeration, no big risks.Wait! There’s more! This just in!!! Apparently the Permian Basin has more recoverable oil than Saudi Arabia!!!! And there’s natural gas!!! Uh, China, Japan, Korea, need some oil? We’re on the way!! Uh, EU, same for you!!!

          6. Lawrence Brass

            Almost perfect choreography I must admit. Simple and effective.A win for both and a good start for the real negotiations.We here have now a billionaire President in his second non consecutive term and the expertise really shows. He was a senator before though. Your theory could be right, again. Gathering momentum.Can’t believe I just wrote this.

          7. Girish Mehta

            It was a smart win for the ‘brand’ of Singapore. Apply the cost of hosting that meeting to a Marketing campaign by Singapore (which they are running all the time). Big difference in impact.Smart move by the city-state.

          8. PhilipSugar

            I get to Singapore a lot. If you ever go there go to the National Library and go to the 4th floor of the Presidents library which shows the history of commerce. University of Chicago’s Booth School has classrooms there we use for meetings. I walk around during breaks to combat the long flight. Fascinating.It is an interesting place. Old and new. You can go to the old market caddy cornered from it go to Raffles across the street but be in some of the most modern buildings of the world.Interesting you can see what it used to be like and what it is now.Santosa Island is not a bad place to stay during the week. Gives you a respite.

          9. Girish Mehta

            “I think you are agreeing with me while trying not to”.You crack me up JLM. When you are not telling people that you agree with them more than they agree with themselves, you are telling them that they agree with you while trying not to.

          10. JLM

            .Just trying to be agreeable, @girishmehta:disqusJLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          11. Girish Mehta

            Funny, I actually was going to say that and did not because I thought you would be mildly offended at being called “agreeable”.p.s. Of course “trying to be” agreeable is always better than being agreeable.

          12. JLM

            .I cannot be offended, mildly or otherwise. I am an adult.I like to see ideas wrestle. I have my favorites, but I like to steal those better ones of others.If you waste time being offended, you can’t watch the ideas wrestling.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  7. jason wright

    “On the 14th of March, at a quarter to three in the afternoon, the greatest living thinker ceased to think. He had been left alone for scarcely two minutes, and when we came back we found him in his armchair, peacefully gone to sleep—but forever.”

      1. jason wright

        and Karl Marx, who predicted the overthrow of capitalism by socialism. i now see how digital technologies may bring this about – Das Krypto.

        1. Lawrence Brass

          That has not happened yet and I think it never will. But look at what happened in China and partly in Russia, communist adopted/adapted capitalism -ish. Who predicted that?

  8. Frank W. Miller

    I have a totally different view of all this. Things have gotten really “touchy feely” since my time in startups. In a way it reflects the parenting styles I see today. Coddling over expectations. Benefits and protection over demands. I feel like a lot of it is designed to address the millenials which we’re now having to do because of the helicoptering parenting style these kids have been raised with.For me, here’s what it comes down to. Startups are the hardest employment situation there is. The expectations for your talent and abilities are the highest and the needs of the organization to demand more time and effort be exerted are the most significant. There’s a reason for that. Someone (mainly VCs) has taken a huge chance on the company, most of the time on little more than a promise and a hope. In all cases, a fuse has been lit, the company has a limited amount of time to get from idea to REVENUE and hopefully profit. This is the modern day version of the law of the jungle. You bust your ass with a total commitment or you pack up and go home. This reality has been lost in today’s cushy, high-valuation, lots of VC cash flowing entrepreneurial environment.I continue to hear about culture fit over capability. This cannot be the case. When you have a startup, you and your employees need to understand that the organization comes before the individual for that short period of time while the fuse is burning. If they aren’t able to understand and commit to that, they should not be there.If you’re running a startup, you need to hire A people only and then you need to sit them down and tell them about these expectations, 70 hours weeks, progress on a daily basis or you’re out, less benefits because you have equity. ‘A’ class people tend to be quirky but your managers need to understand that this is their challenge but they will get this. You don’t try to hire around it. The smartest (and a lot of the time weirdest) people give you the best chance at success because they are the ones that can actually get things done so you can ship and start making money. If you don’t get that, you’re reducing the chance of success of your startup dramatically. If the people you’re looking to hire don’t get that, they shouldn’t be there.

    1. guillaume

      Hi Frank, I hear you on the need for capabilities over culture, long hours, high demands high risks, continuous improvement, get things done, sucess, A people, etc=> in my frame of reference, tough, this describes a culture of execution and excellence over feelings.what do you think ?

      1. Frank W. Miller

        With respect, it sounds like you would not be a good fit for the startup environment I describe.

  9. LE

    It is not even accurate to say “people side of the business”. People are the business!This is so true. My saying which is that business is essentially about ‘taking advantage of the low hanging fruit of opportunity’. In the case of coinbase that is exactly what they did. And there is no question in my mind that the ‘people’ side of it is what allowed them to take advantage of that fruit. You execute better because you have better people as a group (and a host of other things luck and so on).In the case of HP (which William mentions in his comment) that is also exactly what they were able to do as well. By having the right culture and opportunity that the right people could ride out and execute on. However it’s also important to recognize that when the opportunity contracts, goes away or changes honestly the people are not as valuable unless they are the ones that are going to get you to take advantage of the next ‘low hanging fruit’. And that probably is not going to happen. Simply because you can’t duplicate low hanging fruit. Important to keep in mind when deciding when is the time to get out. Anytime you here ‘reinvent’ it’s time to get out because more often than not w/o the original advantage it’s not going to work out.

    1. PhilipSugar

      The hardest thing for businesses is to go from “grow mode” to “harvest mode” to “wind down” mode.That is why I love the rule of 40. And the biggest thing is not to try convince yourself that you can grow if you just put in more money.Simple. Growing at 80% yup you can lose money.Growing at 40% better be breakeven.Not growing totally fine: make 40%Declining (which is totally ok) at 20% better be making 60% and you CAN!The biggest thing I have seen? People don’t manage to that. And that means you don’t need a management trapezoid,

      1. JLM

        .Wisdom of an operator.Well played.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  10. Tom Labus

    Hiring the right people at the right time is a rare gift. I was clueless. To those who have figured this crucial component out, a major tip of the hat.

    1. LE

      It helps to be able to shovel the shit to get good people to work for you. (On a small scale I mean and I would imagine actually when much larger). It’s also easier to do it when you are starting out as opposed to established. It’s like selling real estate people think the unknown has more potential than the known (getting better). Rule of thumb human nature wise.Easier to hire for a new company vs. established company (that is stable)? New company because you can say and do anything and people will tend to believe it or want to believe it will be true.

  11. JLM

    .Confession: I did not complete the two hour homework assignment.What is missing in this discussion is the power of training. From the time I was a new second lieutenant leading 50 combat engineers until I’d been a CEO of public/private companies for 33 years, the best enterprises I have ever witnessed or ran had good training programs.In my CEO coaching biz, I find companies with personnel problems never have training programs. In addition, they never have good job descriptions or a “basis of employment” document either.I also see companies which hire good people and, only then, train them for the position. I do not mean to imply the new hires are clueless, but rather, that the company trains them to do it “their way.”JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  12. sigmaalgebra

    (1) To be more clear on my post yesterday, in recruiting the really good players, for evaluations of candidates start with the manager who will be supervising this person, assuming that manager is effective and technically competent and not into goal subordination. HR can’t do it. Rarely can the COO or CEO do it. Still more rarely can the BoD or VCs do it. Really the manager has a tough time doing it because he should be trying to hire someone better technically than he is. For a sports analogy, I’m not much on sports, but I doubt that the pro team owner can select the best players — that goes to the general manager and/or coach. Gotta tell ya, in high end research academics, the student applicants and the grad students are evaluated by the faculty members, NOT the school Dean, President, Board of Trustees, or even the alumni donors.(2) For handling the people side, sure, in a high tech organization, especially a software one likely full of nerds, the CEO will need help, big time help. I’m sure, Gates, Ballmer, Page, Brin, Zuck, even Jobs, all did — sorry, but I can look at any of them for a few minutes in a video clip and conclude that they are nerds, just as in the movie Revenge of the Nerds, some or all of psychologically and socially awkward, oblivious, ignorant, insensitive, incompetent, a risk to themselves and the organization, etc. In software they are way too commonly inarticulate down to nearly illiterate — bluntly they can’t describe their work.So, nerd organizations need help with the people side.(3) Next, maybe I’ll watch the video clips, but what I see right away is three men and a woman. Bass ackwards! Should be three women and one man, and the man there just to get coffee for the women or just all women.Come ON guys, who do you want to work with, (A) Ivanka, Melania, Secretary DeVos, Director of the CIA Gina Haspel, Cally Gingrich, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, Hope Hicks, Kellyanne Conway or (B) General Kelley, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Rudy Giuliani, Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis, Jay Sekulow, Steve Bannon?Now, now, now, that’s not the same as who you want with you on a SEAL team midnight visit to Ping Pong Yang, as Captain of any of the aircraft carriers currently enjoying a nice, summer cruise in the Sea of Japan, or doing what Admiral Nimitz — ice water in the veins, gutsy brilliance, best naval victory in all of history, turning point of the war in the Pacific — did just before Midway.(4) Come ON guys: I’ve emphasized with some exponential growth rate, starting in the crib, human females pay attention to PEOPLE and, males to THINGS. A really socially skilled college male may be as far along as an average first grade female. For a human male to be as good with people as a human female is about a likely as a deaf person being good with violin — ain’t gonna happen. And anyone who believes that grade school girls will take to mechanical toys like grade school boys is on the way to losing.The PC, gender neutrality, equality, unisex clothes, haircuts, and showers movement aside (or dumped in the trash or toxic super fund site), in a word, human males and females are “different”, as in E. Fromm, again, over again, once again, yet again, one more time, “… deserve equal respect as persons but are not the same.”. PC, gender benders, grab a life preserver because soon your boat is going DOWN. You have had no effect on reality, and the newsies are off to another source of fad, fake news.(5) I know that if my startup is successful and I’m trying to build a good organization, then at nearly all my meetings, on whatever the heck subject, whether there are females in the meeting for the subject or not, I want one to three highly trusted, perceptive, articulate, bright, hopefully brilliant FEMALES, 30 – 65, from my staff in the room, for WHATEVER the heck fake reasons, getting coffee, arranging the flowers, setting the place cards, taking notes, handling plane reservations, so that when the meeting is over they can do their REAL job, tell me what the heck was REALLY going on!!!!! No darned joke.

  13. Donna Brewington White

    Very much looking forward to listening.Nathalie’s role fascinates me because I have witnessed the complexity of being a pioneer company as part of a frontier industry. Even more so when the role itself is a pioneering one within that company. I was really proud of my client Dash for making the Head of HR one of the first management hires.

  14. jason wright

    Jerry ‘verses’ Patty, or Costa Rica verses Serbia?no contest.