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11TH January 2013

Business Tricks - Creative problem Solving - Leadership - Mobile - Timely - Uncategorized

An Open letter to Poachers: We already know who the good ones are

Sums it up.

Pretty much sums it up.

A recent post had me going on about my three word manta: Discover. Develop. Deliver.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be around five companies from founding to past the Dunbar line, and that’s where the people stuff gets real interesting. (see the Develop section of the post). Well, 2013 started out with recruiters ringing employees and we decided to fight for what we value: A Players.

Ironically, just as you are seasoning a team and kicking into growth mode, the rest of the market often takes notice and starts trying to poach your best. The more competitive the marketplace, the worse the soliciting gets (I’ll submit mobile ad-tech ranks right up there). It won’t stop, so what we have done is create every possible intangible and tangible benefit to being happy while working with us. So here’s what we’ve done at Mojiva for example, to deal with it:

First, I learned more about the Dunbar line, a fairly interesting social study about leading groups.

Dunbar’s number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. These are relationships in which an individual knows who each person is, and how each person relates to every other person. No precise value has been proposed for Dunbar’s number. It has been proposed to lie between 100 and 230, with a commonly used value of 150.

As we were approaching 100 employees I worked with my co-founders and core team to describe our core values. Everyone knows we try to govern by those values; it’s an early test as to whether a prospect matches up well with us (and if not, it’s eventually not going to work anyways). Once in the house, we all try to live and work by them. I’m proud to share them here


Next, I worked with our HR team to come up with every imaginable intangible program for start-ups (many of which I have to credit my EO group, Maximus for the ideas). We have bi-annual MAPs that people can self-assess their skills against their peer’s assessments, and identify places and skills to improve. We have bi-annual performance reviews, but so does everyone. We have Quarterly peer awards, where individuals are nominated for recognition (and swag!) by teams for their superior effort. We have a recruiting and retention program fashioned after GH Smart’s Who process, where most everyone who interfaces with new hires has a say in their fitness for offer. We have a 401k. We have a disaster recovery program that had 100% check-in within 3 hours of hurricane Sandy. We pay bounties for finding, and keeping people rated A Players. We have a cool office in SoHo. We have a 90 day leave bonus (yes!) where we actually look at people’s mojo after a quarter and offer them to leave if they want. We figure the cost of searching, recruiting, and training a new hire is expensive, so if they don’t confirm a perfect match in 90 days the company will suffer going forward. Better to part ways sooner.

But far and away, the reason people want to be around is to make their dent in the sky. We really believe that what they do in the coming years will echo through the rest of their careers. Working at a mobile ad-tech company growing 100% is about as exciting as it gets. They can point to that and say “I helped build that!”.

So if you’re looking to hire away someone from any of my portfolio, rest assured: we know who the A Players are, our core values are matched, and we serve them well. Most are just too busy for the flattery, and rarely do they take calls (we have a program for that too).

Face it: if your are a recruiter calling, you are likely speaking to someone who is not many of the above, and you will likely overpay for them. Happy hunting.



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