Steve Newcomb on building teams ("Cult Creation")

Steve Newcomb wrote a brilliant essay a few days ago, on building teams and, more broadly, creating a good working culture for engineers.

I love, love, love this essay.  It’s far more important to read this essay than my blog, so please go read it 😉

I found out about this essay from Nivi, one of the Venture Hacks guys, whom I’ve been reading for years.  Nivi dislikes that the essay came from Silicon Valley, but loves everything else about it.

It’s worth noting the essay contains insight and tips from other people, like Peter Thiel (co-founder and CEO of PayPal, one of the first investors in Facebook, and more…) and others.

One of my favorites parts of this essay is his “Try Before You Buy” (TBYB) practice.  Basically this means bringing each engineer on as a consultant for a set period of time, like one month (his suggestion) or three months (my default at HubSpot when I was hiring folks).  This gives both sides, the person and the company, a chance to see if the person gels and fits in, can do their work, and is someone you really want.  If it doesn’t work out, it’s a clean, automatic break, with no legal hassles and no bad karma.

Everyone seems to think this is hard or impossible to pull off, but that’s not true.  As long as you do it consistently, with everyone from day one, you can make it happen.  It works with people who already have jobs, with people who are relocating, and in other situations as well.  It works with junior folks and with seniors folks.  You just need to be able to honestly say everyone on the team has done it, and that’s the way it is.