"...keeping you great"
"He has a home" -- living in no place for more than 8 months, T.J. Peeler was taken in by a family when he was 14. Four years later, he'll be the first in his original family to graduate from high school and he'll have a full ride football scholarship to University of Pittsburgh, as one of Virginia's top high school running backs. It's a modern-day "Blind Side" story in our own backyard. And his goal? "I just want a family and kids, that's it. I just want to be a man and take care of my kids."
Joanne and John Costello -- The community in this story is Ashburn, VA. The family is our own Joanne Costello and her husband John. Joanne runs operations for Gazelles; John is the local high school (championship) basketball coach. Please take five minutes to read this heart-warming cover story in the Washington Post last Friday (and click on the photos -- there is definitely some resemblance between Joanne and Sandra Bullock). Joanne and John are truly "A+" people -- at work, in the community, and at home -- and this is a perfect holiday story worth sharing with your children. We are so proud of them!!! BTW, TJ's team did win a second state championship last Saturday.
#1 Book in Canada, #5 in China -- speaking of "A" players, it was announced this week that Geoff Smart's book entitled Who: The "A" Method of Hiring, was named the #1 best business and management book for 2009 in Canada by The Globe and Mail newspaper. A month ago, it was named a "Top 5 Business Book for 2009 in China" by the Shanghai Daily (the Chinese get it). And a year ago, it hit every major bestseller list in the U.S. after being ranked #1 out of 2.4 million titles on Amazon the two weeks following its release.
$170 million Topgrading Story -- and yesterday, Brad Smart, Geoff's father and the father of Topgrading, shared the story of 28-year old genius Aaron Patzer, who earlier this month sold Mint.com to Intuit (Quick Books-fame) for $170 million. Patzer is staying on as the head of a new personal finance division for Intuit. Patzer credits Topgrading as critical to his success, helping him achieve a 90% successful hiring rate (no time for amateur-hour hiring practices). Patzer's amazing story is below. And take a look at Mint.com's Dec. 4 amusing video questioning the U.S. government's unemployment statistics.
Geoff Smart Jan 21 Webcast -- Gazelles is hiring (new person in January) and I hear that many of you are as well. As such, Gazelles' top 250 customers will receive a holiday gift of Geoff's book next week. And on January 21 we kick off a new Growth Series of LIVE video webcasts starting with Geoff Smart January 21, noon -- 1:30pm ET walking you through the details of hiring "A" players. This webcast will be highly instructional, not just an overview of the book. $199/individual; $495/company license (unlimited browsers) and it will be archived for a year. And the three month series will be $995/company license. The other three webcasts:
|Geoff Smart (People) January 21 noon -- 1:30pm ET -- author of bestseller Who: The "A" Method of Hiring|
|Jeff Jarvi (Strategy) February 18, noon -- 1:30pm ET -- author of bestseller What Would Google Do?|
|Chip Heath (Execution) March 25, noon -- 1:30pm ET -- Stanford Prof and co-author of bestsellers Made to Stick and Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard which will be released Feb 16, 2010|
Monthly Web-Based Education -- schedule it now for 2010 and "...keep your management team great."
MOVED TO VEGAS -- Sales and Marketing Summit, April 20 -- 22, we landed Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, as a keynoter. And the Gazelles 22 participating executives will have a private tour of Zappos Headquarters, which is in Henderson, NV, so we moved the event to Vegas. The rest of the faculty is set as well -- here's a link for a sneak peak. On Thursday, April 22 (since there are limited flights out Wed night) there will again be three half-day workshops including one led by Eric Keiles and Mike Lieberman, authors of my favorite "how to" marketing book Reality Marketing Revolution.
Aaron Patzer Story -- from Brad Smart's "Topgrading Tip" (to listen to this Topgrading Tip, click here)
This short case study is amazing, the title is not hyped, and the case study has some great lessons for all managers.
Meet Aaron Patzer, founder of Mint.com, and a 28-year old who just sold his company to Intuit for a cool $170 million. I read that he attributed some of his success to using Topgrading methods. So I called Aaron, and here's a brief version of his story ...
Aaron grew up in Indiana, got into computers at age six, paid for school by designing websites starting at age 16, graduated Duke in computer sciences and electrical engineering, dropped out of a Ph.D. program at Princeton, and received a MSEE instead.
He joined IBM, got three patents on Play Station and quit because IBM seemed to promote people on the basis of seniority and Aaron guessed he would not have a fun job for more than a decade. He joined a start up, wrote code and soon he was interviewing candidates on the phone.
With about a 600 IQ, Aaron wasn't satisfied with his interviewing skills, and he picked up my big, fat book, Topgrading: How Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching, and Keeping the Best People. I suspect he memorized the book and particularly the Topgrading Interview Guide. He asked the questions about education years and then investigated a person's career by asking about - for EVERY job - successes, failures, bosses ("I figured if a candidate's last 3 bosses were jerks, I'd be one to hire him."), boss appraisals, and reasons for leaving. Aaron "got it," the power of gleaning patterns and the importance of asking "why?" 1,000 times. He used the TORC (Threat of Reference Check) Technique and asked finalists to arrange reference calls with past bosses.
Aaron says Topgrading is the best business book he's read, although he says the first part included name dropping with famous Topgraders, and too much "selling" of Topgrading. He instructs his managers to go to Chapter 11 for the practical advice (which today is available in a much more exciting tool, the Topgrading Workbook - click here). And I suggested that his managers read Chapter 12, the legalities of hiring, written by the largest employment law firm in the US and written to keep managers out of a minimum security prison.
Back to his success story - at age 25, Aaron was working 75 hours per week and frustrated with the additional hours necessary to manage his personal finances using Money or Quicken. The bolt of lightning struck - he'd create the best personal finance software.
So he did it, he launched Mint.com, with occasional self doubts. After all, he was attacking Microsoft and Intuit with no business experience, no leadership experience, no knowledge of Java web services, and by the way - no money. Ahh, but he already knew how to hire A players.
Google Mint.com to see details of his business, videos of how someone can enter a few super secure credit card and bank accounts in 6 minutes and immediately begin saving money and time. And it's free.
So, at 26 years of age Aaron started hiring people for Mint.com and now he has 40 employees. When he sold Mint.com to Intuit, the company made him head of their personal finance division, so there will be a lot more opportunities to Topgrade.
How did he Topgrade Mint.com? He used the Topgrading hiring methods, with a few tweaks to really, really zero in to be sure he wouldn't make a mistake. For example, he asks engineers general questions about their methods to determine if they are so customer service oriented that they sit with users and note any frustration.
And what is his track record? Four mis-hires out of 40. Not bad! A couple of others quit for good reasons - a dad died and another one of Aaron's employees returned to Asia to take over the family business. Looks like a 90% success record, with successful hires not just "okay," but true high performers.
Aaron Patzer makes assembling a team of outstanding performers look easy. He didn't happen to mention one small factor that actually does make Topgrading "easy" - he's clearly an A player!
Recommended Resource: The "Cliff Notes" for Topgrading is the 176-page Topgrading Workbook, a bit shorter than my 650-page tome! The Topgrading Workbook explains each of the crucial Topgrading steps, and then presents the fun, illuminating exercises that teach how to do it. Those are the same exercises we use in our Topgrading workshops. For more information or to purchase, click here.