Chapter 4

Steve’s Secrets for Selecting Great People

A small team of A-players can run circles around a giant team of B- and C-players.

—Steve Jobs1

Hiring decisions present one of the key challenges to creating a Pirate culture. As Steve put it, key hiring decisions are as important as creating a new product. He even put a good hire on the same level as the moment he first saw a graphical user interface and a mouse, at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, and realized they would be the cornerstones for the future of computing. So many companies have a culture that encourages people to fall into line, just like life in The Navy. These types of organizations generally are able to accomplish little more than improving on the innovative ideas of others.

Too often we hire clones—worthy clones, hardworking, ambitious, disciplined, compliant, well educated, often trained and proven in a competitive firm. You know the story. Just look around you, maybe even at yourself.

To really succeed in a fast-changing world where yesterday’s rules are being broken every day, we need to learn to be brave and resist the usual, the familiar.

As advertising guru David Ogilvy wrote in his book Confessions of an Advertising Man, “Business needs massive transfusions of talent. And talent, I believe, is most likely to be found among non-conformists, dissenters and rebels.”2

Miles Young, the global CEO of Ogilvy & Mather, has recommended that business people “hire more nutters.” One night over a cocktail ...

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