I’ve often found myself referring to candidates as first-, second- or third-wave. I believe I stole this categorization from Bob Cringley’s Accidental Empires.
- First-wave people want to create success from nothing. They are the entrepreneurs, the founders. They see an opportunity, create a product, and yearn for success.
- Second-wave people want to make something popular more successful. These are the people who take an established idea and scale it up to fulfill its promise.
- Third-wave people want to join a successful environment and preserve the status quo. These are the operators who make sure business run smoothly.
This is not a measure of smartness or competence – we’d find similar levels of IQ and education across these groups. Instead, it’s an estimate of their appetite for risk and their payoff expectations. Entrepreneurs have a higher hill to climb, but treasure awaits at the summit.
It’s important to hire the right kind of people at the right time: Google and Microsoft are sourcing from the second or third waves. As a startup that has yet to release its product, we want to hire from the first.
Thanks to Adam Smith for discussions.