What to Look for in a Manager

August 28, 2023

Great cultures ,Hacks ,Hiring

In a recent WSJ profile of the CEO of Uber, Dara Khosrowshahi was asked what he looks for when hiring a new team member. Here is his answer:

What I look for above all else is followership. I want to know who they’ve hired, who they’ve developed, because ultimately, you get exponential benefit, not just based on the individual, but everyone they’ve hired and developed.

This an amazing insight, because it goes beyond asking if they have management experience, and makes them tell stories about specific people.  In other words, it’s hard to fudge it.

File this one under “Interview Hacks.”

The Surprising Key to Team Coherence

May 25, 2022

Great cultures ,Hacks ,Hiring

“Adversity creates cohesion.”

That’s what Rob Angel said. He created the game Pictionary.

At one point their team had to work around the clock together to collate half a million cards. But during that time they talked and found out a lot about each other.

“We experienced pain together. That really cemented us and gave us the belief that we can overcome anything.”

That’s the same thing we felt after 4 weeks of Zappos training – showing up at 7am every day. And of course if you look up the Navy Seal training, you can see how their “hell week” of  200 miles of running, within 20 hours of physical training per day. And only 4 hours of sleep… for the entire week.

What can you do as a team to bond you in shared struggle?


The Real Key to DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion)

August 5, 2021

Hiring ,Values

DEI is a contentious, complex subject. But sometimes problems are complex while solutions can be simple (but not necessarily easy).

There are many books, programs, and teachers on the subject of DEI, but in my work I continually hear stories about how it divides people rather than brings them together.

I always remember my experiences at Zappos, and how we made it a very diverse and inclusive company. Even my team of just 20 people was a diverse group of men/women, black/white and various ethnicities — even though we never brought them on for those reasons!

So how did that just happen naturally?

My belief, formed from a career from a career helping others achieve this, is that companies that have very strong values produce a diverse workforce. When the hiring process looks for these qualities, the perfect candidates will naturally span all races/genders.  But think about what happens without hiring by values. What do people go by after experience?

Personal preferences and biases.

There used to be a maxim in Silicon Valley to hire people that you could “get a beer with.” But that means you only hire people you like or are like you.  And from a business perspective, we need a diversity of talent that can challenge us.  So the people we need may not be the people we necessarily like.

This is not to gloss over all the pain and injustices that the employees of a company may go through. I’ve found that having a crowdsourced conversation like Open Space helps to “empty the closet” and put everything on the table. And if tensions are really bad, the Obstacle Breakthrough process in my book, The Culture Blueprint, is a tested framework to work through it.

And once that is done, the company (through its leadership), must determine its core values that are unique, so that they attract the right people, and detract the wrong ones.  If a company’s values can easily be used at another company, then the leadership has not tapped into the true uniqueness of its own culture.

My book The Culture Blueprint has a process that I believe can work for any company that approaches it seriously.  You can download the entire audiobook here, at no charge. And if you want guidance through the process, I’m here to help.

Adding Friction to Onboard Customers and Employees

March 12, 2018

Hacks ,Hiring

I just signed up for a Virtual Assistant Service.

They made it easy on me, by making it challenging.


Yes. Stay with me here…

They could have simply given me a button that said, “Sign up here.” Then they could have taken my money. Yes, that would have been an “easy” process. But how many people would do it, and just sign up cold like that.

Instead, they added friction to me buying their service, and it made it easier.

Let me show you.

First, they didn’t ask me to buy. They just invite me to try.

After clicking that, they entice me to try it for free, and take my info…

They don’t stop there, because you know how many of us sign up for something like this, let it hit our email and do nothing, right?

So instead, they get me into action, immediately. They ask me to pick a task area, and if I do it within the time limit, then I get a $25 credit.

And then step by step, I pick the kind of task I want done:

I then go on to give them exact information…

And we’re on our way.

Yes, it’s a lot of steps, but, I believe it drivers higher conversion rates because:

a) They’re very easy.
b) It screens out those who are not serious.
c) I get immediate value, and they are selling by doing.

So how does this relate to your company internally?

Add friction to the hiring process.

1) Rather than post your job opportunities, put up a form to take their email address and their interests, so that you have a way of contacting them if a relevant job comes up. If you just show them the jobs and one doesn’t apply, then you’ve lost them forever.

2) Have them contribute a video of why they are a good candidate.

3) Ask them to use a very specific subject in an email to you, just to see if they can really follow instructions and pay attention to detail. If they can’t do this simple thing, they’re out.

4) Interview people in a group, have them work together on something and have each person say a recommendation for the others to get a job. You can tell how well they play in teams, and how much they’re willing to support the bigger goal.

Add friction to a new program.

When I started up the Goals Coach program at Zappos, we had only one coach for 1500 people. Rather than just opening up for coaching, we had them:

1) Apply to be in it, making them think about what they want and why.

2) They had to take a class about coaching and how it works

3) Now that they have had all their prep, the sessions only took 15 minutes, rather than a full hour, thus quadrupling capacity.

Where might you add friction in your business or in your culture in order to serve the higher goal?

Are you hiring for the right team?

June 16, 2015



In my book, the Culture Blueprint, I go over how to structure a hiring program.

More and more I’ve found that diversity on a team is key. I spoke with an entrepreneur who only realized that he had hired people exactly like him once he had them all take the DISC personality test.

There are three tests I’ve seen effective. Once you’ve reached the stage of seriously considering a hire, you might ask the candidate to take them.

If you already have a team I would recommend spacing these out so that people are not overwhelmed with the testing and the data.

DISC – Tests work behaviors

Kolbe – Determines how you get things done.

Strengths Finder – Helps you locate your unique abilities.