[Column] Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten: People
When I interview people for a job at TNW, I like to meet them in a bar, or during a walk around town, or for breakfast at a nice restaurant. Anything but the plain vanilla, fluorescently-lit meeting room that’s normal for these kinds of meetings.
My goal is to find what kind of person I’m dealing with and get past the ‘holding my breath’, ‘be on my best behavior’, and ‘clenched butt cheeks’ atmosphere as fast as possible. Skills and talent are fairly easy to assess, but finding out if people are the right fit for your organization is a lot harder.
I once joked that you shouldn’t hire people until you’ve seen them drunk. Not that I want to have a company made up of frat boys — quite the opposite — but because alcohol seems to emphasize certain character traits which make you easier to read.
Another entrepreneur I spoke to had a similar idea. He told me he invites the partners of people he wants to hire. His theory is that people are more honest that way. They might be good at pretending to be another person, but that’s harder when the person you love is standing right next to you.
I similarly love meeting the parents of people who work for me. Somehow meeting parents gives context to a person's character.
My conclusion is that when people say ‘hire the best people’ they’re not just talking about skills, but just as much about character and personality. That’s what defines your humanity.
To really understand you, I need to know what kind of human being you are, and I can’t do that by just reading your resume. You are who you are because of how you were raised, who your parents are, and how you love the people around you.
My key insight here is that we should stop talking about employees, clients, users, or consumers. All those terms take away our humanity. Instead, we should all try to hire people, work with people, interact with people, and sell to people.
From one human to another, I hope you have a great week, surrounded by great people.
Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten is een serial internet entrepreneur en is oprichter en eigenaar van The Next Web, een techmediabedrijf dat zich focust op Generation T; de generatie met een groeiende interesse in technologie. Voor The Next Web schrijft Boris wekelijks een blog die tevens wordt gepubliceerd op Marketing Report.
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