Dear SaaStr: How does a First Time Founder Identify 10x Hires?

How do you hire a great CTO, a great VP of Product, a great VP of Sales … if you’ve never worked with one?  It’s hard.

There’s a reason almost every founder you talk to had a mis-hire for their first head of sales.  Because they didn’t really know who a 10x hire would be, at that stage, back then.

But you can bend the odds.  Here’s how to hire a 10x VP or other hire in any are you don’t … fully understand yourself.

  • First, interview at least 30.  Yes, that’s a lot.  But by interview 10-15, you’ll find at least 1 that stands out.  You’ll start to get a sense of who at least could be great.
  • Second, watch some tactical videos of great ones.  Listen carefully, how they think.  It helps.  Watch SaaStr videos, Plato videos for engineering, etc.  Really hands-on content.
  • Third, ask your mentors and investors for intros to the best they’ve worked with.  You may not be able to hire them and that’s OK.  Your goal here is to meet someone truly get and understand the bar.
  • Fourth, ask the very best people you’ve ever worked for, and with … who their best recommendation is for Position X.  This pretty much always works.
  • Finally, find a great CTO, CMO, VPS, VPM, etc. to interview your top candidate.  And be honest with their feedback.  It may be critical, even when you do find a 10x hire.  But they’ll at least help you hone your thinking.

Remember, you have to take some risk if you don’t have the hottest start-up in the world.  But the corner you can’t cut is someone that seems good on paper, but you just … aren’t sure.  So you gotta follow the 5 part process above, especially for the hires in areas you aren’t an expert yourself.

And if the best people you’ve ever worked with tell you someone is one of the best there is … they probably are.

Hire those ones every single time.

(best best image from here)

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