1. Asking for someone to list the project they're most proud of is a million times more valuable than asking for a resume. People with standard resume accomplishments obviously included those, but filtering only for great resume means looking for great "paper compilers" - a few of the top candidates had one or two outstanding accomplishments and no paper credentials.
2. I turned down everyone who wrote in with a "kind of sort of trying" vibe. A surprisingly large number of people talked about how they "hate their job" and "this would be a fun opportunity to try"... umm...
3. Likewise, I was very wary of people who had long stories/narratives about their struggle and how hard they've worked, that didn't include actual results. A number of good candidates went "RESULT -> Story -> Results again." Many good candidates didn't talk about struggle or work at all, and just said what they can do and have done.
4. I turned down four of my favorite candidates - a graduate student at Harvard, two people in private equity, and a guy running a successful startup. It didn't seem right to get people out of a guaranteed solidly good place to put them into something risky. I'd have taken all four if I could have guaranteed success and patience, but I can't, and by turning down great candidates who this isn't a slam dunk fit for, I feel stronger about advocating strongly for people is a good fit for.
5. There's a lot of random variance in something like this. The first 3 people I took on, I bought their plane tickets for them. The next 2, I guaranteed I'd pay their airfare if things didn't work out so they wouldn't be out of pocket. There were 3 more people who were excellent, but didn't get that guarantee... and it's purely a variance thing based on my mental evaluations of cashflow, and the fact that as roles are filled, it becomes less crucial and more of a luxury to get others onboard, even if they're talented. I worked from both the top and the bottom at different times in different email clients, so there's nothing that could have been done to control this. Weird how little things potentially make a big difference on your life/prospects, but you never get to see that from your end.
6. The candidates from South America were all surprisingly excellent. There weren't many of them, but they were all super impressive. Could be a weird coincidence, or maybe reading my blog and being from South America means you've got a very strong command of some pretty abstract written English?
7. I took only candidates who could be net-revenue-producing very fast. That means I turned down a few very solid people who had intangible or slow-build-big-returns skillsets. I'll likely follow up with some of them later.
8. I gave candid feedback to everyone I said no to. I appreciate everyone who wrote in.
9. A few people asked for various details, but no one - literally no one - asked about money, gave me the minimum they wanted to learn, or gave me their suggested/preferred role. This strikes me as a gigantic blindspot - instead of asking for details passively, why don't people suggest what they can do and are really good at? (Actually, two guys did - and I took both of them on; one of them is mentioned in the next point)
10. All the email subject lines were basically the same "Interested in the project" and "Changing the world" type stuff, except two - "IMPORTANT>>>>>>READ NOW!" and "Shit just hit the fan in Colombia," both of which got read out of order too early, and both guys I brought on and either got airfare paid or a guarantee. So, the deck isn't totally random...
Still have 40-some more to go through, but my mind is cooked. I'm waking up early tomorrow and will close this out first thing in the morning.
Exciting times, exciting times...
"but no one – literally no one – asked about money, gave me the minimum they wanted to learn, or gave me their suggested/preferred role."
I think you could look at this another way - maybe people just had such respect for you and trusted you that they figured they'd apply and things would work themselves out. I know that was my thought. I figured that stuff could come later, but initially I just wanted to be involved with a smart guy doing cool shit, who I happen to trust.
In a lot of ways, the fact that nobody did that could be a complement - or maybe that was just me.
I'm so detail-agnostic right now and I assumed you were too. A process is possible if resources and time permit. If they don't, choose another process.
If you feel bad about (5), it might help to think about the law of large numbers: Successes often *look* like luck, but mostly the successful people are going after enough opportunities that a successful outcome (not necessary the particular one that came about) is inevitable.
I'm sure this has been written about extensively, but I don't have references on hand.
Good luck with your project. Your writing continually inspires me to do better, and I can only imagine how much more for the people who get to work with you.
I'm intrigued by this concept of quick return skillsets versus "intangible or slow-build-big-returns" ones. Can you give some examples of each? I would love to hear some advice about how to strategically choose which skills to build up (eg based on an analysis of what you already have and your goals) and which to outsource or ignore in a small business setting.
It's an extremely proud, nationalistic country. There's strong traditionally masculine elements here.
That means a culture that can be kind of xenophobic, violent, and aggressive.
Despite that, I actually like it. I like traditionally masculine, proud, nationalistic countries. I know that isn't fashionable to say in this day and age, but after having been around a lot of the world, I just feel really bad for the citizens of countries that are totally pacified and unproud. The men move through life in a sort of drudgery and haze, and the women don't seem to enjoy those state of affairs either.
That said, pride/nationalism/hyper-masculine mixed with transitioning out of poverty can lead to bad places. It's not so much nationalism that is bad, as much as it's a catalyst for whatever else is happening in the society. In a country in a renaissance or golden age, with an emphasis on expansion, science, commerce, innovation, hard work, and building wealth, nationalism and pride becomes a force for progress. In a country that's on the down and out, nationalism amplifies that to bad result.
Mongolia is interesting. Their national holiday, Naadam, is a festival in July featuring wrestling, horseback riding, and archery.
This story is one of the first really interesting and bizarre things that happened to me. It's a tale chock full of twists, crime, and deceit, guaranteed to satisfy even the most discriminating BtyB reader.
It takes place when I was a sophomore in high school, before I had any clue whatsoever regarding women. Despite my objective inexperience, I had managed to attract my first real girlfriend. I'll write the full story some day on how I met her... believe it or not, I won her over by memorizing more digits of pi than she memorized. Let's all pretend I didn't just admit that. Anyway, she was very attractive, super cool, and perhaps the most compatible girlfriend I've ever had. Now she is a fighter (like amateur UFC or something) and a stripper. Her name is Allison.
One of my good friends at the time was a fellow named Charles. There always seemed to be something a bit odd about him, but I wasn't sure what it was. Later I would learn that he had been sent to juvenile detention for attempting to stab his stepfather.