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Here's how to hire people who will live and die for your company.

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Anything related to matters of the mind


Legendary Contributor
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May 5, 2014
Rocky Mountain West
There's a lot that goes into hiring good people, but if I could boil it down to the one thing you really need to pay attention to, it's something that's often overlooked. Something that takes about an hour of solid thought to get on paper, but that very few people actually do. If I could implore you to try one thing for your business this year, it would be to take this one step:

Get your mission and vision down on paper.

I can almost hear a collective groan of people reading this.

Maybe you think it's stupid to write a mission and vision. Maybe you feel it's trite, or mental masturbation. Maybe you feel like it's self-serving non-sense for people who want to feel self important. Maybe you feel it's only for people doing amazing things, and you're "just running a small eCommerce business" or some such thing.

But hear me out. Once you do, I think you'll find that it's worth an hour to get your first draft on paper...especially since it's impact goes way behind hiring a great team.

"If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don't have to be pushed. The vision pulls you." - Steve Jobs
I firmly believe that, in order to hire the best talent, you need to be an extremely attractive employer. That sounds obvious, but most entrepreneurs miss the mark here. From day one, their job postings are uninspiring.

At the bottom of the barrel, job postings are written from a place of employer selfishness ("You must be a driven self-starter who can deliver high quality output with little direction) rather than individual contribution ("You will be working with a team who will help you learn the skills and technologies to be worth 3x more than your starting salary").

If you think about it, these postings only attract people desperate for work.

It's better for job postings to talk about what the employee can tangibly obtain. But most of the time, the employer tries to entice new employees using the lowest common denominators – money (compensation of <$100k/year!) and benefits (you get a new MacBook Pro and 3 weeks vacation!).

Consider this: these postings attract mercenaries - people willing to work for their own selfish monetary gain.

The best jobs postings are those that go to a deeper level: they talk about what the employee can contribute, and how that will transform them, and their universe.

For example, consider this first sentence from a job posting for Apple:

"The people here at Apple don’t just craft products — they build the kind of wonder that’s revolutionized entire industries."

"The same passion for innovation that goes into our products also applies to our practices — strengthening our commitment to leave the world better than we found it."

Source: iOS Designer - Apple Design Lab - Apple

These sorts of statements attract the kind of employee you want: missionaries.

Now, I know what you're thinking. It sounds trite, right?

Well, Apple has consistently attracted some of the best tech and design talent for the past 20-40 years, depending on how you count it. Maybe they know something you don't.

Still, maybe it sounds like something only the big guys can use... Well, I disagree. I believe it's something that needs to be baked into the company from day one. Here's an example of what I use for my own business in our job postings:

"We’re grateful to have the opportunity to serve the state of Colorado with the first luxury transportation service that is fully electric, operating only Tesla luxury vehicles.

We’re making meaningful steps to transition Colorado transport to be fully sustainable by building the first fully solar-powered fleet."

While we still get applications from people who aren't a great fit, we get a surprising amount of applications from people who don't need to work at all, but want to turn this vision into a reality. As a result, the first driver we hired actually has a day job brokering $5M+ M&A deals. He drives for us because he is driven by the mission we are trying to achieve. He doesn't even really need the money.

But it goes deeper than that.

When he's behind the wheel of the car shuttling around our clients, he's living his passion. I hear from our clients all the time that our driver was explaining our mission, and how we are scaling our fleet to be 100% solar powered. It inspires them, and they become repeat clients.

This is all because our mission allows our drivers to take pride in their work.

So please, if you don't have a mission and vision laid out on paper, take an hour to brainstorm these and get them down. It can only serve to help you communicate about your business.

Writing your Mission and Vision

Here's a few simple steps to get a first draft of your mission and vision down on paper. Remember, these things aren't written in stone, so don't worry about getting it 100% right the first time. But they do communicate the unchanging values held by you and the company, even as they get refined.

  1. Get an initial list of things you value down on paper. Keep this document handy, and add to it as you sell your product and interview potential hires. How you sell your product to customers and your company to employees tends to surface what you value.
  2. Consider what you'd like your company to build. For example, one of Elon's goals is to colonize mars.
  3. Consider the higher level ideals that this achievement will allow. For example, Elon's goal to colonize mars is seated in his desire to have the future be something to look forward to. He also has a desire to save humanity from potential extinction.
  4. #2 and #3, collectively, are your mission and vision. From what I can tell, some people call #2 mission, some people call #3 vision. Sometimes the reverse. But it doesn't really matter how you label them. This can usually be boiled down into a quick soundbite about your company and what they do.
Here's an example of what this looks like for a company who has been nailing it all for decades: Apple

1. Values

We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing.
We are constantly focusing on innovating.
We believe in the simple not the complex.
We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make, and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.
We believe in saying no to thousands of projects, so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us.
We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot.
And frankly, we don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change.
And I think regardless of who is in what job those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well.

Source: Apple Inc.’s Mission Statement and Vision Statement (An Analysis) - Panmore Institute

2. What we're building

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.

Source: Apple Inc.’s Mission Statement and Vision Statement (An Analysis) - Panmore Institute

3. Higher Level Ideals

They believe that if they build the best software, services, and hardware, they will positively impact the lives of everyone on the planet, leaving it better than they found it.

4. The soundbite
The people here at Apple don’t just craft products — they build the kind of wonder that’s revolutionized entire industries.

And here's an example of how I would do this for someone who thinks they are "just" trying to create a small eCommerce business, that's less focused on "changing the world" in the same way Apple or Tesla does:

1. Values

We believe that working a 9-5 is not what people are destined to do.
We believe all people have the right to financial freedom.
We believe that by providing value into the marketplace, we create a path to financial freedom for all of our employees.
We are constantly focusing on improving our processes and minimizing costs, to enable maximum profit that can be distributed to our staff.
We believe that we can provide a great lifestyle for everyone we bring on our team, but we need to work together to do it.
We believe that a group of people who are motivated by their own personal gain can work together to create things that benefit others.

2. What we're building

We're building a fully remote drop-shipping company that works with the highest quality vendors. We do this to provide the highest quality home goods products to our customers, at a volume and margin that allows for generous profit sharing. We educate our employees on how to invest those funds to generate passive personal income.

3. Higher Level Ideals

If we can figure out this novel business model, it can prove that employer/employee relationships don't need to stop with a pay check.

4. The soundbite

We don't just curate and sell the best products – we're building a company where everyone sees immense benefit for their contribution.

So, with that, I wish you happy visioneering.
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