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We’re in the middle of a few things here in the US, and hiring season is one of them. I constantly get DMs and emails about how to attract and retain great talent. I’ve spoken about hiring a lot over the past ten years and while some thoughts evolve, others stay the same. Keep reading to learn my three top tips for hiring professionals in 2021. 

Big Egos Lose Talent

First up, when it comes to hiring, you have to put aside your ego. I promise you, indecisiveness, debate, and pontificating is ultimately–ego. That’s what’s stopping so many people from being successful. I promise. 

Everyone wants to be someone that’s good at hiring and that’s one of the biggest flaws in companies today. I implore you to look at what your team needs as a company, what skills you lack as a leader, and where a new hire could fit into what you’re trying to build–rather than look at subjective measures of success. For me, if someone on my team tells me they went to an Ivy league school, and another tells me they went to community college, I look at them the same. If anything, I aim for people who like “dirt” because I know they don’t let their pride make them insecure. It’s all about where your new hire fits and it’s short-sighted, and incredibly micro, to wrap your pride around how “good” your hires are. 


Let me tell this story. I feel like my EQ and people skills are off the charts. Yet, I am baffled by how many horrible hires I’ve made in the last 20 years. They just weren’t a good fit. So, when I think about my intuition and ability, then deploy that against the masses, I know a lot of you have made huge amounts of hiring mistakes. Therefore, I don’t worry about what you think about me.  I’m very comfortable and excited about admitting that I was wrong.

I quickly hired around 300 people when I first started my company because I was willing to admit when I was wrong and make changes when necessary. I don’t like to fire, but as long as it’s handled with empathy and respect for the person you’ve hired, you have to accept it as a part of running your business. 

Most people sit on new hiring mistakes for a year or two, because they don’t want to be exposed as having made a wrong decision. In that time, enormous amounts of bad stuff happens to your business. If I can convince one person reading this to admit to themselves that they made a hiring mistake, I will have written a successful article.   

Because I’m not afraid to be wrong, I’m not afraid to hire. If anything, I always overhire, always because I’m anticipating growth and that’s how you grow. I think a lot of this comes down to knowing yourself first of all. So I’ll give you a very good piece of advice (I genuinely believe this):  hiring people for things you don’t want to do is unbelievably powerful.

I couldn’t be more bullish on it. If all of you right now just truly take a step back and say, what do I do every day that I don’t want to be doing and hire for that, I couldn’t be more proud. 

Redefine potential. 

When we had just hired our first chief creative officer, I had spent six months prior trying to find the person with what mattered to me the most: emotional intelligence.

This might upset you, but I don’t respect talent, not to the degree that most people do. It’s stunning when I run my business how secondary pure talent is to people skills.

This notion that some creative people are so special that they can be impersonal, and bully everyone else is the exact opposite of how I run my business. I’m very unpopular in tech-land because I don’t want to run a business where being mean brings the best out of people. I don’t care if you’re a creative genius; act like a normal person or leave. 

Second, I believe continuity trumps everything. It’s just like sports. A team that stays together usually beats a team with superstars that were put together for one season. I believe that and I love continuity at Vayner. We have enormous continuity for a young company and I want to keep it forever.

Hiring is guessing. Firing is knowing. 

When it comes to hiring, I look for intent. I look for intent and I look for a lack of insecurity. I think insecurity leads to disproportionate worst behavior. Also, I look for somebody who compliments me or has a communication style that works for me because I hate to micromanage. I’d rather pick people I believe in and empower them. I want to provide flexibility. That’s humility.

Still, hiring is guesswork and it’s okay to admit that. It’s okay to admit when you’ve made a mistake. I know no one likes to do this, but if hiring is guessing, then firing is knowing.

Hiring and firing, you need to do that because it’s a part of every business. In a way, firing is more important to company culture because it sets the tone for the culture. You can’t be afraid to fire someone who’s cancerous in culture. It builds your credibility, it says, “No matter how talented you are, you have to treat people with respect.” It says, “I don’t care how I know you or how long you’ve been here–we reward people based on merit.” This is why self awareness is so important; it helps your company, your community, and ultimately, it helps you.