Good Employees and Successful Entrepreneurs


In an art­icle pro­fil­ing Google’s Marissa Mey­er (employ­ee num­ber 20), there’s this quote on Mey­er­’s views with regard to hir­ing practices: 

One can­did­ate got a C in mac­roe­co­nom­ics. “That’s troub­ling to me,” Ms. May­er says. “Good stu­dents are good at all things.”

Anoth­er can­did­ate looked prom­ising with a quarterly rat­ing from a super­visor of 3.5, out of 4, which meant she had exceeded her man­ager­’s expect­a­tions. Ms. May­er is sus­pi­cious, how­ever, because her rat­ing has­n’t changed in sev­er­al quar­ters.

How­ever seri­al entre­pren­eur Steve Blank says that aspir­ing entre­pren­eurs who don’t meet these stand­ards should­n’t be put off:

What I remind [my stu­dents] is that great grades and suc­cess­ful founders / tech­no­logy entre­pren­eurs have at best a zero cor­rel­a­tion (and anec­dot­al evid­ence sug­gests that the cor­rel­a­tion may actu­ally be neg­at­ive.) […]

There’s a big dif­fer­ence between being an employ­ee at a great tech­no­logy com­pany and hav­ing the guts to start one.  You don’t get grades for hav­ing resiliency, curi­os­ity, agil­ity, resource­ful­ness, pat­tern recog­ni­tion and tenacity.

1 thought on “Good Employees and Successful Entrepreneurs

  1. Paul

    The prob­lem I think is that entre­pren­eur­i­al char­ac­ter­ist­ics are rarely val­ued, or worse are derided in many organ­iz­a­tions.

    “Resi­li­ence” is a fairly mean­ing­less term, but “curi­os­ity, agil­ity resource­ful­ness, pat­tern recog­ni­tion and tenacity” will more likely be pun­ished than rewar­ded in for example, a typ­ic­al tech­no­logy com­pany.

    To put it anoth­er way, in the eyes of a hir­ing man­ager (maybe like Marissa):

    Curi­os­ity = Nosey
    Agil­ity = Flighty
    Resource­ful = Mean
    Pat­tern Recongition = Con­spir­acist
    Tenacity = Pushy

    Now entre­pren­eurs need to know how to break rules and genu­inely “think out­side the box”, which is why a nosey, flighty, mean, pushy con­spir­acist will do fine as an entre­pren­eur, but not even get the time of day at many tech com­pan­ies, includ­ing – it appears, Google.

    In this respect, Marissa is actu­ally body­shop­ping for robots, not entre­pren­eurs, which is increas­ing evid­ence that Google has actu­ally turned into Just Anoth­er Tech Com­pany.

    I ima­gine they’ll need a “We Think Out­side The Box – Hon­estly” ban­ner on their recruit­ment site soon!

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