Is Being a Founder a Career Death Sentence? #HRTechConf

I’m out at The HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas this week and it struck me at the number of ‘Founders’ I meet when I’m here. The founders I meet seem like the perfect person you would want to hire. Super motivated. Smart. Creative. They believe in an idea and they are willing to do what it takes to make that idea a reality.

Sounds perfect, right?

Turns out, we actually hate hiring Founders! In fact, in a strange twist of fate, we actually hate hiring successful Founders more than failed Founders! Why? Well, if you’re successful we feel you will just leave us and go be successful again. If you fail at being a Founder, we feel you’re beaten down enough to come be your employee and you’ll probably be super happy to be an employee!

That’s why most all of us suck at hiring! We have no idea what really matters or makes a difference!

We know that like 99% of startups fail. So, we have these great people who are willing to go try and hit a grand slam, but they strikeout. Because they actually took that big swing and did all those things we think are great, we actually then don’t want to hire them. Um, what!?

Not only that, if these same folks are actually successful, but then decide to exit, then we really don’t want to hire them because we somehow don’t think they’ll hang around long enough!?! We are all insane and have no idea how to judge talent! “But we only hire the ‘best’ talent!” No, you don’t! You hire people who don’t intimidate you in any way.

Part of it is the concept around entrepreneurship. We all say we want to hire employees who are ‘entrepreneurs’, but not ‘real’ entrepreneurs. More like entrepreneurs who went to school to be entrepreneurs but they were smart enough to know they would actually fail at being entrepreneurs so they’ll come work for us and be entrepreneurs, non-entrepreneurs!

I find that most of the “Founders” out here at HR Tech are not the type of folks who went to school to be an Entrepreneur. I find most folks who go to college and get a degree in “Entrepreneurship” actually want to start a bar or a t-shirt clothing brand or have one nerdy friend who can code, so they go after starting some sort of delivery-service app.

I find most of the HR Tech founders have come from all walks of life, but mostly technologist, where they ran into an issue and said to themselves, “there should be a solution for this”. Very few were from HR or TA. Many did work in corporate environments which is where the idea came from. So, the reality is, they have already shown to want to work in the corporate world.

So, what does this all mean? We need to look at someone being a former Founder of a company as a great thing, not a bad thing. Those former founders can be complete rock stars in your company!

2 thoughts on “Is Being a Founder a Career Death Sentence? #HRTechConf

  1. Glad you do love us Tim, you won’t ever find someone that works as hard as a founder and we would be super grateful for having others to share the load with, and support our efforts without having to carry the burden single handedly! I think Founders bring a unique perspective and are super appreciative of others sharing the load of vision and execution…and payroll!

  2. We’ve often hired founders. One had failed and succeeded in two separate ventures. He’s been with us for 5+ years now and was recently promoted to our top executive level. #FoundersRule

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