Ok, this is a simple post, and one we’ve touched on many times before.  But it deserves its own post because it’s a mistake so, so many of you will make as you go to hire your first VPs.  And even your second VPs.

Don’t hire the “Hot VP”.  Not until you are equally hot, at least.

What do I mean?  So many founders, especially first-time founders, fall in love with That Great VP They’ve Heard Of.  The one on stage at SaaStr Annual.  The one that worked at Gitlab, or Slack, or Twilio.  The one on the podcast you listen to.  The one on Twitter.  The one that won the VP of the Year awards.

And if they did all that at say, Shopify in the early days … and your product is a little like Shopify … well, they’d do magic at your start-up!  Won’t they?

It can be true.  But, 99 times out of 100, even if you get to that Hot VP, get to meet with them, and close them … even if they really were that magical VP at your stage.  they’re just not that VP anymore:

  • They don’t want to be so scrappy again.
  • They don’t want to do it all again.
  • They need a much bigger team.
  • They don’t do as well without a brand behind them.
  • They are convinced their way is the right way.
  • And more often than not, they weren’t even that Amazing VP you think they were back then.  Being part of a Hot Startup made them seem like a magician.

Lighting does strike twice in great VPs — but even when it does, it doesn’t strike the same way.

None of us can go back in time.  If you hire that great, “Hot VP” today that did it all, remember you are hiring them as they are today.

Not as they were.

It rarely works out.

If nothing else, at least do more diligence.  And not with VCs, or other Hot VPs.  With their old bosses.  With their direct reports.  And make sure you are at least aware of who you are hiring.  Not what you want to believe, and see.

And also, be honest:

  • Would you hire them if they were the exact same person, but didn’t have the one amazing stint on their LinkedIn?
  • If they have no experience at a start-up no more than 1 stage (or 12 months) later than you’re at, why would they really be successful as your startup?
  • How many resources did they have at their last role?  Can you fund and give them at least 50% of that many resources?

If they don’t pass this Honestly test … pass on that candidate.  Even though … it’s your dream candidate.

That Super-Successful VP of Sales. Great? Or Just Lucky?



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