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Warren Buffett has stated, “Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it’s true. If you hire somebody without integrity, you really want them to be dumb and lazy.”

My philosophy about hiring employees is this: I don’t want employees at all. What I want is peers with a congruent value system to share a personal and business journey. I want co-workers in a horizontal company who can teach me and make me a better human being and businessman. This means everyone, including the receptionist.

This journey begins with common values, particularly seeking out executive business associates who want their work to give back to the world through service and truth-telling to customers and potential customers. Under that rubric of shared values, I have always wanted to only hire executive colleagues who are better than me at both genuine caring for the client and creating efficacious results, in that order. However, the truth is we are all better and worse than each other in our variegated ways.

To me, the staffing ideal is a company that affords all associates the freedom to maximize their own service instinct and acumen with minimal interference from the big, bad boss (me). I’ve found that this philosophy makes for an enlivened, creative company and a happy business community. It incentivizes and vivifies autonomy as a core value.

Etymologically the term autonomy derives from the Greek word meaning self-governing. To be autonomous means to act in accord with oneself. When we are autonomous we all emanate service and salesmanship infused with energy, integrity, and a personal authenticity that sells at all points of contact with the public and with stakeholders.

Authenticity is compelling. Like the judge who, when asked to define pornography, said, “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.” Customers feel much the same way. They know authenticity when they see it. Stephen Colbert famously calls this quality “truthiness.” I see incentivizing “truthiness” in every associate as a primary leadership imperative. You want to activate truthiness, not just because it is moral, but because it is effective.

Therefore, part of incentivization is hiring people who innately share corporate values so they are always, without thinking, succeeding by propelling a corporate narrative from inside themselves. In my case I have hired educated, value-oriented, experienced people who are adults and self-starters.

Of course, everyone works for money. That has to be fair and appropriate. But I firmly believe that passion and commitment are not fundamentally incentivized by money. They are better motivated by a will to generosity, happiness, and autonomy.

As said, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing you will be successful.” (Herman Cain frequently appropriated this quote when he ran for President of the US in 2012.)

Thank you, Albert.

40 Responses to “Don’t Hire Employees. Hire Peers”
  1. Terrific swan song post! Hiring for shared values is the trickiest part of the hiring process and too often given the short shrift. I believe there are 2 driving reasons for that: 1) lack of clarity about what the company’s values really are, why they matter, and how they influence the brand, 2) overemphasis on “skills.” I’d sooner hire someone whose values align and have proven competencies, and then train them on skills they may lack. Those are the people who become the most important team players in the organization.

    Thank you for your years of dedication to the small business community. I’ve always appreciated your thoughtfulness and discipline in stepping up to the plate each week.

  2. Richard Hunter says:

    Sorry to see it go. I have so enjoyed the journey. Love you my friend.

  3. Tm Askew says:

    My Dear Karen,

    Thanks for your many eloquent comments over the years. Frankly, your comments have often been better than my posts. I have been honored by your participation in Making Rain.

    Tim

  4. Tm Askew says:

    Thank you, Richard. You have been a rich part of the Making Rain journey. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    ๐Ÿ™‚

    Tim

  5. Tim:
    It’s been a great journey. As a four time Inc 5000 winner I’ve admired your writing and learned a lot from your writing as well as my interactions with you in person. As an added bonus, your vocabulary validates my decision to study Latin for 5 years in my youth haha – I still encounter so many words I dont know. I wish you continued health and happiness – you inspire me

  6. Trent Oliver says:

    Whqthe. (Sent from my tiny keyboard.) Will miss your weekly words, Tim. Trent

  7. Katie Karlovitz says:

    Thanks for your magnificent blog! Hope you are well,

  8. Angela Beeching says:

    Thank you, Tim, for all the inspiration! And I wish you best of luck with all your new ventures.

  9. Todd Schnuck says:

    Good luck to you, Tim. Thanks for sharing these wonderful thoughts over the years. All the best. Todd Schnuck

  10. Chad Prawl says:

    Timโ€”What a decision! Congratulations on the progression. I would love to reconnect personally when we get a change. Iโ€™m excited to relay stories of my own personal development through the Mankind Project. Cheers! Chad

  11. Sandy says:

    Tim,

    I am so sorry to hear this as I have thoroughly enjoyed your blogs and humor. I totally understand the need to step back and refresh your outlook and energy. Tony and I wish you success on your second book and are looking forward to reading it as we enjoyed the first one.

  12. Sydney Finkelstein says:

    Tim, Iโ€™ve very much enjoyed reading your musings in these blog posts. I always walk away with something to think about, and sometimes a spark for one of my own blog posts.

    My very best,
    Syd

  13. Karen Gottschalk says:

    Tim,

    How are you? I’ll be sad to see the end of your blog. Hope you find some inspiration at this next stage of your already exciting life. I for one can’t wait to read what comes out of it!
    Take care my friend!
    Hugs
    Karen

  14. Carol Kinsey Goman says:

    Hi Tim,

    Will miss your blog – but look forward to the book!

    Warmest regards,
    Carol

  15. Brendan Lally says:

    Thanks Tim

  16. Jeffrey Grant says:

    Tim,

    This must be difficult decision in some important ways. I’m proud of your courage in taking some steps into the great unknown.

  17. Phil Patrick says:

    My friend:
    I’ve enjoyed your writing throughout the years and I wish you continued success!
    I’m enjoying life as a professor. Off the entrepreneur road/rat race
    Phil

  18. Marc Wager says:

    hi tim,
    iโ€™m going to miss your columns!
    but please keep me on the list for the inc columns

  19. Tm Askew says:

    Dear Phillip,

    You are a great entrepreneur who I have always admired. Of course, I thank you for your kind words and for being part of our blog community.

    ๐Ÿ™‚

    Tim

  20. Tm Askew says:

    Funny Trent. Grateful for your readership and support.

    Warmest regards,

    Tim

  21. Tm Askew says:

    Thanks for calling Making Rain a “magnificent blog,” Katie. My very best to you. Tim

  22. Tm Askew says:

    Hey, Angela. Thanks for being part of the community and for calling my work “inspirational.” ๐Ÿ™‚ Tim

  23. Tm Askew says:

    Hey, Todd, Thanks for your comment and referring to my essays as “wonderful thoughts.” Warmest regards, Tim

  24. Tm Askew says:

    Thank you, Chad Prawl. Warm regards, Tim

  25. Tm Askew says:

    Thanks, Sandy. I especially appreciate that you like my humor over all these years. Thank you for your very warm note. Tim

  26. Tm Askew says:

    Hey, Sydney Finkelstein. I am so pleased that my “musings” may have helped spark some of your superb essays. Thanks for reading and for your excellent book Superbosses. Cheers! Tim

  27. Tm Askew says:

    My Dear Karen Gottschalk,

    You have been a loyal and useful contributor to the Making Rain community. I’m honored that you will miss my essays! ๐Ÿ™‚ Tim

  28. Tm Askew says:

    Thank you, Carol. I love your useful books on body language and have freely borrowed your ideas over the years. Warmest regards, Tim

  29. Tm Askew says:

    And thank you, Brendan. Warm regards, Tim Askew

  30. Tm Askew says:

    Hi, Jeff. Thanks for your note. I just felt it was time to move on to other things. Do note that I will continue writing weekly for Inc. Magazine. Just follow me on Twitter and it will be sent to you. ๐Ÿ™‚ Tim

  31. Tm Askew says:

    Thank you, Phil. I particularly appreciate it when academics like my work, since I have zero formal education in entrepreneurship or business. Cheers! Tim

  32. Tm Askew says:

    Dear Marc,

    Well, I’m glad you will miss my writing. But don’t forget you can still get my weekly Inc. column by following me on Twitter. All good wishes. Tim Askew

  33. Terri G says:

    Bittersweet emotions fill me as I learn this is your final blog. I’ll miss them in my weekly in box and at the same time applaud you for listening to the inner voice that spoke “It’s time……” to leave the party. Thank you for the guidance and affirmations of what is most important not only in business but in life. Thank you for selflessly giving your time to write so we might benefit. My deep respect in building the success of Corporate Rain based on your beliefs. Thank you for creating the pause in us to define how success is measured and to remain mindful of what we in business are called to do and more important how to do it. On a personal level thank you for building my vocabulary!!! There has not been one writing that did not require Merriam Webster beside me. I wish you only the best and every blessing moving forward. Terri G.

  34. Shawn McBride says:

    Thanks for it. I have enjoyed a few of the messages.

  35. Trent Oliver says:

    I wish I were a writer! My life and content creation would be easier.

    I hope that you are well and happy.

  36. Jim Fugitte says:

    Sounds like you may be moving onto a new life game, Tim. Congratulations! Jim

  37. tim askew says:

    What a wonderful note, Terri! It does hurt to cease my blog and to not have the weekly feedback of good people like you. Thank you for your wonderful encomium. However, if you wish, you can follow me weekly on Twitter at @TimothyAskew. Very warmest regards, Tim Askew

  38. tim askew says:

    Thanks for reading Shawn. Tim

  39. tim askew says:

    Thanks for being part of the Making Rain community for all these years, Trent. Warmest regards, Tim

  40. tim askew says:

    Bingo, Jim. I am off to a new life plan. I just wish I knew what it is! Good to hear from you. You’re my favorite banker. Warmest regards, Tim

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