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It was 6:00 am. I was just sitting down with a fresh coffee to get an early start on the day at Ariba, and my phone rang. Again. I knew who it would be—Tina. This would be the fourth time she was calling to tell me how much she wanted to come work with us. Tina seemed super sharp. Motivated. She had a BA from Harvard, where she was also varsity cross country and track & field. And she had a Masters from Stanford. But she was right out of school and had little tech experience. Still, here she was, calling me, the company CEO, at 6:00 am. She was DETERMINED. Finally I told her, in fun, “If you’d only stop calling me, I’d give you a job.” And she showed up the next day.
The company with the best people wins. But there’s a big difference between knowing that and actually hiring and developing the best people. I’ve often said you’ve got to hire people who are “smarter than you.” This is absolutely true (and not that hard to do in my case), but I’ve found one of the worst things you can do is to allow yourself to focus so much on skills and smarts that you lose sight of the character traits that are much more important predictors of success.