When A Startup Founder Hires A Professional CEO, Does He Need To Have An Industry Background?

A good question, and one most professionals get wrong. Even professional recruiters. Although this can depend on many factors, generally speaking the CEO does not need to come from the industry. 


The existing employees and team should bring the industry and domain expertise. If it is a raw startup with no staff, that is really a co-founder, not a “CEO hire”. And no good CEO is going to work for a founder that has little experience. Most experienced CEOs do not want to take raw startup risk, they come in later when the risk is fleshed out and scaling up is the challenge. The founder better bring large industry experience and/or management experience and a killer business plan, having completed deep market research, competitive intelligence, and other development work. A company is worth zero dollars until this is done.  


It is often better if the CEO is not buried in the industry standard belief systems, as then they can go beyond it. Any company...

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Has the age of a manager affected your opinion of them?

And what to really look for when hiring

Age should never be a factor. Experience, or years doing that exact job, is a big  factor. Of course, there is often a correlation between experience and age. Some people continue to learn for life, while others stop learning all together at a young age.  So, you are asking the wrong question, really. 

When hiring there are 100+ variables, and you should always hire for these, with age not really mattering, except maybe for exotic dancers. Here are some factors I think are far more important:

  1. Raw intelligence and curiosity that drives a person to learn constantly. I always ask what book they are reading.  If none, then minus lots of points. 
  2. Grit, drive or stick-to-itivness = Personality of never give up, even self-confidence. Some see this as positive attitude. The "I can do it" mentality. 
  3. Creativity, if a management position or something requiring creativity. Thinking out of the box is important for many...
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Hiring Wisdom Collected From Many Sources

John F. Welch Jr., CEO of General Electric, identifies four types of managers:

1) People who deliver on commitments and share the new values—retain and reward these people;

2) People who don't meet commitments and don't share the new values—these people must go;

3) People who sometimes fail to meet their commitments, but who share the values—give them a second chance;

4) People who meet commitments but don't share the values—they must change or go, because their results aren't worth the price.


Southwest Airlines has been successful hiring by the smile.

Power vs. Powerlessness
Powerless Empowered
Create bureaucracy Do the right thing
Are insecure Are self-confident
See "them and us" See "we"
Focus on task Focus on result
Follow rules Take risks
CYA (cover your assets)  
See win/loss issues See win/win issues

Hire consultants for skills. Hire senior people for attitude and ability....

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Top 10 Hiring Tips

By Greta Kauffman
President and Founder, Target-Teams

Nothing is more important or can have a greater impact than the people you hire. A hiring mistake can literally cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and be magnified over the entire organization, or it can be the beginning of massive success. A bad hire at a senior level in critical areas, at critical times, can even ruin a company. Yet done right a good hire can make up for a lot of other issues and drive success.

The Tips:

1. Spend sufficient time thinking and planning before starting the hiring process. Recruit only after you know exactly the skills, values, background, and education you need for your open position.

2. Track your annual cost of turnover. This will help you understand the cost of losing excellent employees at your firm. It can help you to justify the use of hiring tools to help you reduce the incidence of hiring mistakes.

3. Maximize your referral network. People you know and trust can yield...

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The 16 Best and Most Revealing Interview Questions Ever

These questions are in no particular order, as they should be customized to the particular position and person.  You want to mix up the tougher ones with more social, calming questions, so people do not feel they are getting the first degree. 

Always do your questions first and theirs second, by saying upfront you have some questions first and then will answer any questions they have later. This way they cannot sell specifically to your needs. You are in charge and should control the first interview completely. Only after they have proven that they are a viable candidate should you start revealing potentially sensitive company information.  If this person is not a good candidate, you can terminate the interview early and save everyone time.  Real candidates will need and deserve this sensitive information, but you would not want this to be generally available.  Good candidates will often try to control the flow of the interview and learn more early. You...

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The Most Common Executive Hiring Mistake Made Today

With unemployment levels high today, many people are focusing on specific industry and domain experience with the idea that a large pool of candidates means they can write a very detailed list of experience and still get good candidates. This tends to create a process that ignores the overall quality and ability of the candidates in favor of a simple checklist of very specific experience. A person's broad experience, attitude, abilities, intelligence, work ethic, and other factors are much more important by a factor of ten for most managers and senior executives. The truth is that a high-quality executive can learn a new industry very quickly from the existing management team, but a lower quality executive with specific domain experience may NEVER become a high-quality executive! Which do you prefer, a high-quality executive or a short learning curve? Sure there are positions where 10 years of industry or domain experience will help, because of experience, contacts, and...

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Is HR allowed to veto a hiring decision by management?

Simply put, generally, no, but there are various scenarios and circumstances.  So, this is really not a yes or no question and requires more information to answer.

Legally, any Officer of the company (a legal status according to the Secretary of State filings in the state in which your company is incorporated) has the right to commit their company legally to any contract, and hence to hire someone.  This status comes with a large “Fiduciary responsibility” to act in the best interest of the company and its stockholders.  It also means you have liability in certain circumstances.  You have a responsibility to all shareholders and cannot make any decisions for personal reasons, only in the best interest of the company.

When on a "Board of Directors" there is a very high standard for that in law called "Utmost good faith". And you can and should be sued and removed for any violation of that responsibility.  But that's another article for another...

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Top Ten Tips For Hiring A Senior Executive


By Bob Norton, Serial Entrepreneur and CEO Coach 

There is no more important decision than choosing the people at the top of your organization. After all, they will hire or approve everyone else in the company, set the tome for values, and make virtually all key decisions that will mean success or failure every business day.

A structured approach to hiring that includes all of the following items must ALWAYS be followed for any senior-level hire (VP and above), where the cost of a mistake can often be a six-figure sum.

Understand the direction in which the Board of Directors wants to take the company over the next few years and how the requisite skills are represented or missing on the current management team. Understand and be prepared to provide the necessary resources for growth. These are not difficult to define at the macro level and the new executive will certainly fill in the details later. Consider the possibility of...

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