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How To Hire (And Fire) The Right People: Turn Your Startup Into the Efficient Machine It Needs To Be


by Cyril Moukarzel, CEO and Co-Founder of LifeDNA

Hiring a great new employee isn’t just about reading resumes and throwing out the bad ones. It starts with attracting the right people.

After all, you can only choose from the resumes people send you.

Online freelance services make it easier to give people a “test-run” before hiring them full-time, but that still doesn’t answer the key question: how do you make people want to work for you?

If you’re eating ramen noodles to get your business off the ground, you probably already know that salary isn’t the most important thing.

Give People a Sense of Purpose and the Power to Make a Difference.

When pitching your company to potential employees, think about these things:

  • What’s the long-term goal of your company? How can the employee you need play a part in the grand scheme of things?
  • Five years from now, what impact do you want to have on the world and everyone in it? How will your company be improving people’s lives?
  • Forget about latte machines in the break room and an open booze policy: what about the company or the job specifically is fun? (Putting a latte machine in a hellish factory isn’t going to make the job fun.)

People are increasingly driven by a sense of purpose: 70% of young adults (the people most likely to join your startup) are driven more by purpose than paychecks, so if you want the best workers, you’ll need to appeal to their desire to change the world.

Firing the Right People: The Key to Efficiency and Growth.

Tesla made headlines recently when it fired 400 people on a performance basis, causing many journalists to jump on the bandwagon and throw ire at the innovative electric behemoth.

But Tesla has about 33,000 employees in total. That means they only fired the lowest-performing 1% of employees.

That means more room (and money) for people who are pushing the company forward and less drag caused by the natural bell curve of employee performance.

Of course, if you’re just starting out with ten employees, firing 1% of your team would be impossible. But in a smaller team, every individual’s contributions matter more. If you know in your heart that someone at your startup isn’t pulling their weight, you can’t delay firing them.

Even if you don’t fire them, the truth is that most unmotivated or underperforming people will eventually leave on their own anyway; it just might take them a few years to decide it’s not the right fit.

That’s a lot of money and resources wasted, not to mention the opportunity cost of hiring the right person for the job.

Choose Employees Based on Ability, Not Resume (And the #1 Most Important Indicator of Success).

Tech companies tend do a better job of this than most others, but even they have trouble discerning real ability from the appearance of ability.

By now, we all know that a college degree doesn’t necessarily create usefulness, but that doesn’t mean companies know what does lead to success.

Angela Duckworth, a MacArthur grant winner and professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania found that “grit” was the most important indicator of success, not intelligence or talent.

Grit, or the ability to persevere in trying circumstances and the willingness to fail repeatedly without giving up, has an obvious benefit, but here’s why it’s better than talent.

People with grit:

  • Can improve over time by preserving, whereas “talented” people may stay at that level forever. (According to Duckworth’s research, those people with grit surpass their talented cohorts.)
  • Are more likely to stay with your company long-term, building valuable and highly specific knowledge that short-term quitters can never gain, even with a higher I.Q.
  • Will not try to hand off jobs to other people just because those tasks are challenging, and will be more likely to step in during a crisis to do the heavy lifting.

College degrees, work experience, and even natural “talent” can’t compete with the ability to stick with difficult tasks over the course of weeks, months, and years.


Cyril Moukarzel is the CEO and Co-Founder of LifeDNA, where he creates supplements and skincare routines based on the customer’s DNA. He’s passionate about health and fitness, and is always looking for new, scientifically proven ways to optimize our minds and bodies.