/// Hire Different!

October 22, 2012  |  All Things Digital


Every aspiring CEO has heard of David Ogilvy’s famous admonition, usually paraphrased as “Hire people smarter than yourself” or words to that effect. In my case, following that good advice has not been hard. Applying that criterion has meant that I’ve had an enormous pool of qualified candidates to choose from. As I’ve progressed in my career, however, I’ve come to believe in the importance of another, less discussed principle as the company grows: Hire people who are different from you, and who will have the courage to challenge you when it matters. Time to step up: Hiring the VP of Sales For the technology founder-led companies we love to back at Andreessen Horowitz, recognizing the need to “hire different” is particularly important when the company is transitioning from initial product development mode into sales mode. If you’re an a16z founder, you’re very likely an engineer or computer scientist. Virtually all of your early hires will have been engineers or developers. While you’ve hopefully hired people who are smarter than you, they may not be that different from you. Now you’ve got a product, it’s time to hire a VP of Sales. Prepare to hire different — very different! A typical sales culture is different from a typical engineering culture in almost every aspect — from personality types to values to dress code to working hours. Introducing sales DNA is highly likely to clash with your engineering culture

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