Jan 30 2007

Half Your Waking Hours

Half Your Waking Hours

I just came back from our annual Board/Management ski trip (and Board meeting) — we had about half of both groups join, which is typical given the time commitment.  We had a great time, and the conversation for the three days was a nice blend of business and personal. 

The thing that struck me during the weekend — and I am reminded of this regularly in the office and at other work events as well — is how much I genuinely enjoy the company of the people with whom I work.  Whether it’s my senior staff, my Board, or anyone I can think of in other roles within Return Path, we can manage to have a good time together and have fun as well as be productively thinking about and discussing work.

With generic assumptions of 8 hours of sleep a night and 8 hours of work a day (neither one being true of course, but canceling each other somewhat out here), we spend half our waking hours on the job.  So we might as well choose to work with people that we get along with!  That doesn’t mean everyone we hire at Return Path has to be like-minded or have the same sense of humor.  But it does mean that we look for people who have that spark in their eye that says "I get it"; it means we want to find people who are articulate and have strong convictions and are not afraid to speak their mind; and it means we screen for people who can be light-hearted and don’t take themselves too too too seriously when we recruit, interview, and hire.

Think about that "half your waking hours" thing the next time you’re hiring someone.  Which candidate (of the technically qualified ones who are in the right zone in terms of compensation) would you rather spend your day with?  In my former career in management consulting, we used to call this the "Cleveland Airport test" — as in, if you were stuck in the Cleveland Airport with this candidate, would you be happy or sad about it?