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...