Why Humility is Essential for Every New Startup Hire

When interviewing product managers at Google, we ranked candidates on four metrics: technical ability, communication skills, intellect and Googliness. A Googley person embodies the values of the company - a willingness to help others, an upbeat attitude, a passion for the company, and the most important, humility.

In the past week, I asked two heads of engineering to identify the most important characteristic in new hires. Both responded, “humility”. For one startup ascertaining humility is so important, it is the first filter in the interview process.

Disruptive companies reinvent. They don’t copy and execute someone else’s playbook. To be disruptive, a startup’s team must cast aside preconceived notions and assumptions about doing things the “right way” and start inventing new ways.

The more time I spend in venture capital working with startups, the better I understand that there are no templates or stencils or best practices. Each startup team faces a unique market opportunity with distinct market dynamics, sales processes, competitive forces, assets and challenges.

In such circumstances, the best expeditionary force keeps open minds about the way forward. They learn from each other and the market. The first step to learning is accepting we don’t know everything.

08 February 2013

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