Leading After Raising A Seed Round

So, you’ve raised a seed round and now what will you do next or better what is the next trick you’ll pull out of your hat(Humor)? Who will be your first big hire? Why hire someone at all. What to build out first – Human Infrastructure or Technology Infrastructure?

“Our immediate goal after investing in your seed round is that you get to your next round by hitting your numbers/projections in around a year so,” says Trace Cohen, managing director at New York Venture Partners. The reason for investors’ urgency is simple: Most startups don’t make it to their next round. The majority run out of financial runway long before they hit the numbers required for the next round, taking their company — and investors’ capital — down with them. If you’re progressing through your growth plan, you’re going to be constantly recruiting for new roles. In order to sustain this, you must develop a rigid structure for hiring, including:

  • A talent-dedicated team member who is responsible for hiring.
  • Clear avatars for every role on your roadmap.
  • Company-wide buy-in to the hiring process.

1. Define your talent structure

When you were hiring on an as-need basis, you didn’t need a recruiter or head of talent. Now that you’re executing a long-term hiring plan, you need someone to lead the initiative.

2. Research roles you know nothing about

After your seed round, you’re going to be hiring for very specific roles—often ones you’re completely unfamiliar with. This can make it tricky to build good avatars. For example, how do you hire someone to run your financials if no one on your team has ever done accounting? How do you hire your marketing department if your team is full of engineers and operation leads?

The answer to this problem is simple. Go talk to someone who is already in that role.

Dave Koslow, COO of DocSend, is an advocate of this method. For him, it serves two purposes:

“On the one hand, it’s very direct. You’re using the insight to speed your interview process. On the other hand, you’re making really good connections. You might be hiring for one content marketer today, but six months down the line, you’re going to need another, and so you might be in a really good position to actually recruit that person.”

3. Build an employee referral system

Now that you have money to spend, you can incentivize employees to refer candidates. Pam Hart, head of talent at Flipboard, offers a referral bonus to any employee who suggests someone they ultimately hire. Referral bonuses are common practice for companies with the necessary funding, but Flipboard has a unique approach for paying them out.

All new hires are introduced in an all-hands meeting. The new hire then stands up, walks across the room to the employee who referred them, personally delivers their bonus check, and thanks them in front of everyone. 

Caleb Kaiser

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To Leave Your Current Employer Or Not?

Four positive effects of changing your job and/or career.

  1. Stress Reduction
  2. Pocket A Higher Salary
  3. Change Of Zip Code Could Work Wonders
  4. Improve Your ChancesFor Career Advancement

Don’t take my word for it, take in sage advice from another professional – 

click here -> 16 Reasons Why You Should Quit Your Job. 

That said, buyer beware, when you don’t love your work, a change of employment can sound alluring. It’s easy to pin your hopes on attaining a dream job, believing that over the horizon lies more fulfillment and better quality of life. But if you’re looking to jump ship from your current position, there may be surprising mental health factors at stake. Before making a career switch, it’s important to take stock of the potential effects on your psyche — both positive and negative — this major change can have.

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Recruiterbot Interviews

OK, it’s the 2020s and we are interacting with chatbots regularly so, it’s not crazy to think that your next interview will most likely be with a chatbot. How will you dress? What is the best way to interact with the chatbot? What type of questions should I ask? Take a look at this video from CBSNews. 

Beat The Bot: Chatbots Take Over The Interview Process

Here are some chatbot interview tips:

  1. Pretend you’re not actually texting

Abbreviation-heavy textspeak is gr8 with GFs, BFs, or BFFs, but in the case of an interview, avoid emojis, embrace punctuation, and don’t leave sentences unfinished, Bernstein says. The medium may seduce you into feeling relaxed and casual but stay on guard against stray LOLs or TYs.

  1. Ask questions  

It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s wise to ask recruiter bot questions. The software is coded to understand a range of possible queries and natural language, including, “What’s the culture like at the company?”

Not only will you most likely receive a coherent answer, but your questions will be recorded and eventually seen by a person who will then get in touch, already informed about your desires and interests. “You’ll have a much more successful secondary conversation,” says Bernstein.

The worst that can happen is that your bot won’t understand your question, in which case it will probably offer to make a note of it and forward it to the right person.

Lila MacLellan

  1. Chatbots In The Morning

AI is becoming increasingly interwoven into our everyday lives, making it possible for us to tackle old problems in new ways. Alexa has been around for about four years now, but as technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, the virtual assistant’s capabilities have increased. Chatbots like Alexa are being touted as the new aids that can help candidates prepare for a face-to-face interview. For example, candidates can use the tool to prompt them with hundreds of different interview questions covering any industry or specific questions relating to specific sectors such as marketing or IT.

Ideally, candidates would be able to rehearse with a person who can give them constructive feedback. However, many people don’t have access to a volunteer to help them practice. This means that candidates often prepare for an interview by anticipating questions and rehearsing answers in their heads. Rehearsing with the help of a chatbot can help the candidate consider a broader range of questions, while random selection can also help them to think on their feet.

Alexa’s ‘Interview Prep’ function can be accessed on any Echo device, but in many cases, candidates will need to enable a specific ‘skill’. In order to do this, open the Alexa app, tap on the hamburger icon, and select Skills. Tap on the Categories button and select the Business & Finance category. In addition to the ‘Interview Prep’ function, there are many other related skills that candidates can enable, such as ‘Interview Me’, ‘Job Interview Questions’, and ‘Job Skills’.

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Leadership After A Pandemic

How will your company move forward after the pandemic? Do you have a plan? If not here are some recommendations.

  1. Manage the post-crisis “new normal”

After a crisis has abated, you should expect a “new normal”—new processes, strategies, and culture—to emerge. Adjusting to the new normal both emotionally and cognitively may take a while, but it’s your job to help your team recover and heal. Once the most immediate and challenging aspects of a crisis are under control, think about the kinds of crises that your organization is likely to experience in the future. What should you and your team be doing to prepare? What worked well this time, what not so well? Are there any preventative measures you can put in place to keep a crisis from occurring to begin with? –  Vanessa Bhimanprommachak

  1. Tell an honest lullaby.

Leaders emphasize the importance of truth, transparency and hope and speak from authentic optimism that inspires aligned action.

It is important to communicate what is known, acknowledge what was unknowable or unknown and address challenges realistically. Champion the critical importance of regular and increased communication while always ensuring that communication is thoughtful and purposeful. When trying to think about the best thing to tell your employees, make sure to: 

• Practice saying, “I don’t know, let’s look for a way to find out” and “No hiding bad news.”

• Know that by trusting your people with the truth, you will be perceived as more trustworthy. – Joseph Michelli

  1. Encourage your workforce to come up with better ways of working.

Employees and front-line managers often have the clearest insights about the tools, technology, policies, and procedures that aren’t helpful. Now is a good time to streamline processes and remove hassles. Doing so will increase efficiency and probably boost employee engagement as well. Consider efficiency-focused interventions—many of which can be deployed virtually—like GE Workouts, hackathons, and triz. –Patrick Hyland, PhD  & Adam Pressman 

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Startup Leadership The Good & The Bad

Dear Brave Reader,

In his book The Heart of a Leader, management expert Ken Blanchard expresses it this way: “None of us is as smart as all of us.” It’s about the collective. He adds that “the key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.” You get more out of people who are on your side, working on the same unobstructed path, with the same motivation as you. That said if you fail to get people on your side moving in the same direction as you, well, you fail. 

The Good

  1. Encourage employees (and motivate yourself) to speak up

Mel Robbins, a CreativeLive teacher who is revered as one of the best motivational speakers in the world, created the five-second rule to help business leaders. She believes that we are only motivated to do what we want to do. The problem with this is that we avoid what we don’t want to do. We end up never scratching off items on our to-do lists. And we are consequently held back in life. Instead of sitting around and waiting to feel motivation, she says you can count down from five and then just do it. Don’t think. Take action. If you’re lying in bed and don’t want to get up, start counting down from five. If you have an amazing idea in a shareholder meeting but are afraid to speak, count down from five and then say what’s on your mind. You can inspire your employees to do the same. Explain the five-second rule to them and see how it transforms your startup. Employees will not be afraid to speak their minds and let you know what they truly think. If you encourage employees to be honest, they are going to feel like their opinions are valued.

  1. Flexibility

“No plan survives contact with the enemy.” This variation on German Field Marshall Helmuth von Moltke’s original quote could not be more true. Leaders of start-ups need to be flexible and be able to alter (or even throw out) plans as their business rolls forward. And they need to be able to do it without getting angry, stressed, or insulted. Emotions like that from a leader crush company morale. —Matt Peters, Pandemic Labs

  1. Focus

As a leader, it’s easy to get off track with your investment, your time, and your energy. You want to go to every event, every speech, and every dinner. Focus is what really matters. You need to put time and energy into activities that are the most effective for your business and its success. Have a litmus test for what those are and only accept invites and spend time on what passes that test. Susan Strayer LaMotte, exaqueo

The Bad

  1. Throwing unwarranted challenges at employees

Are you Han Solo, quick on your feet and always rising above every challenge?  Chances are many of your employees do not fit this archetype. It has been documented in books and movies where a startup leader throws challenges at a new hire hoping that he or she will stumble their way up and that once they meet the challenge, any other work will be simple. By doing this, you are ignoring the impact that the mistakes will have, both on the startup, and the newbie. You must understand that everyone goes at their own pace. Some employees are slow in the learning stage, but once they get the hang of things they can do better than anyone else. Others may learn fast but are not necessarily that efficient as performers. If you want to keep the employees you cherry-picked, you must understand who they are, and give them responsibilities accordingly. People want to grow in their roles and that requires a challenge. When you don’t know your employees, you might keep throwing what you think are doable challenges at them and they fail to do them. When that happens they get frustrated and their self-confidence takes a hit. As a leader, your job is to boost everyone’s self-confidence, not the opposite.

  1. Lacking Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm is sometimes hard to muster when you are up against the numerous challenges that running a startup can throw at you. But without demonstrating motivation to those who work for you it will be almost impossible to succeed. In one study published in the Journal of Experimental Education, authors Brian C. Patrick, Jennifer Hisley, and Toni Kempler looked at how teachers motivate students. It was found that “among the teacher variables, enthusiasm was the most powerful unique predictor of students’ intrinsic motivation and vitality.” This principle has the same relevance for a manager’s interaction with the team. People respond to enthusiasm with positivity and belief in the leadership. Walter Chrysler, who founded the automobile company that carries his name, said “the real secret of success is enthusiasm.”

  1. Blatantly Ignoring The Competition 

I have heard many young startup founders say things like, “if my product is good enough and my marketing is good enough, I will succeed”. Not true! Competition is a crucial factor in the success and failure of your startup. You cannot encourage yourself and your employees to live in the world of blissful ignorance – not if you want to succeed! Competitive analysis is an important step in formulating your startup’s success strategy. It’s not enough to do well, you must out-do your competition. Okay, let’s try this: Name a successful company which had/has no competition? I bet you can’t. But, it’s amazing how many startups claim that their idea is unique and hence is the key selling point. 

Good startup leaders: 

– Analyze and learn from the mistakes of their competitors

– Work on understanding the successful aspects of their competitors and try to match up to them

– Work on differentiating themselves in the marketplace

Corey Hubbard
Corey Hubbard


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Impactful Leaders Build Effective Hiring Teams: Are You?

Dear Brave Reader, 
How are you planning to improve the productivity of your hiring teams? If you have not considered any changes please allow me to present some suggestions. 
1. Invest In Team Building Events: Different types of team-building events will develop strong relations and a sense of community within the team.
2. Measure Productivity: Human Resource managers should also measure productivity by managing objectives, benchmarks and targets, sales productivity, and more.
3. Learning and Training Opportunities: An important thing to practice in an office is to have the training and learning opportunities. Learning new things and improving the skills they already have is great for a person’s self-growth. Even asking for feedback by finding out your employees, opinions, or concerns to see how they feel about their tasks, colleagues, or anything bothering them in the office. Human Resource teams should make sure their employees have the right tools. It’s a great benefit for your business too.
4. Implement Low-Cost HR Digital Tools: Remember Human Resource’s role is changing? DreamHighr is a candidate vetting and interviewing Human Resource tool that takes care of all of the little things that used to take up your hiring teams’ time. Our technology scans, reviews, and ranks a candidate’s resume, phone-screen viable candidates, coordinate the next interview between the hiring manager and the candidate, tracks progress and creates a candidate biography report. We will track the quality of candidates in your staffing pipeline so your hiring team can focus on their new job of improving your company’s productivity and engagement. 
5. Monitor & Review: Evaluation techniques are part of the process of developing a great team. You need to use obvious metrics, such as financial measures to evaluate the success of the team and each individual in it. When you set precise goals, you must measure the achievements at precise intervals of time.

Corey Hubbard
Corey Hubbard


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5 Trends HR Pros Are Preparing For in 2021

Human Resources is one of the most exciting domains to be working in these days. With such fluctuation in the type of work available (remote vs in-house) and a slowly diminishing gender disparity (thanks to more women entering skilled positions), it looks like 2018 will be another interesting year for HR departments across the world.

Here are some of the major trends to look out for as the year unfolds:

  1. Retaining Talent Via Recognition Software

Companies are well aware that employee loyalty is a tenuous rope that could snap at any moment. According to data compiled by HR Drive, as much as 75% of employee turnover could be prevented. When you consider that losing an employee costs the employer $15,000, the incentive to hold on to talent is real. 

Recognition rewards are now in action for many companies, the goal of which is to provide small cash rewards to an employee when they have done something out of the ordinary. While it certainly keeps people motivated in their current position, whether it keeps them from looking for another job is still unclear.

  1. More Flexibility

While remote workers often have the luxury to plan their own hours, this open orientation to productivity is being applied more and more to in-house staff as well. The flexibility to work from home has been seen across a number of companies – as has the tendency to hire more freelancers. What does this mean for role responsibility? Plenty of change in these waters too, as traditional positions are being replaced by hybrid jobs based on an individual’s talents and proclivities.  

  1. Better Pay for All Talent 

Wages are going up for the most in-demand talent out there, and that has a trickle-down effect on all employers and employees. In order to keep their top talent, many of whom are looking to get the best work/life balance for themselves, companies are offering all kinds of benefits they would never have to make in the past.

  1. Analytics is Taking Over HR Too

Every industry will benefit from big data analytics – and HR is seeing the change as we speak. One excellent example can be seen in the way Salesforce used HR talent analytics to help them hire web developers. HR analytics isolated key gaps in the talent market that had been overlooked by other employers, and Salesforce was able to fill their positions expediently and with low cost.  

  1. Accountability Scores

What is human resources other than an exploration of accountability in business? The #MeToo movement has galvanized female minorities in the workforce to demand better ethical standards and a positive working environment for all. HR departments must take a more proactive approach to set and enforcing workplace standards for existing employees and future hires – an approach that can start with the government’s definition of sexual harassment.  

HR Will Help Guide the Future 

One thing is certain about the role of human resources in 2018: it will be a stabilizing force in what is otherwise a very turbulent time for companies navigating work from home packages and female employees dealing with the menace of sexual harassment in the workplace. 

Corey Hubbard
Corey Hubbard


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Three Lessons Inspired by the Life of Michelangelo

Michelangelo once said: “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” 

And aim high, he did. He was a true Renaissance man who mastered many different fields. He was an accomplished sculptor, painter, poet, and engineer. His famous works, like the magnificent frescoes of the Sistine Chapel, the grand statues of David, and the Pietà, all expressed deep emotionalism, realism, and intensity never before seen. 

He remains relevant today not only because of his glorious creations, but his work ethic continues to provide valuable insights and inspire us today.

Here are some life lessons we can learn from the great Michelangelo, the greatest artist of all time:

The complex folds of the Virgin’s robe form a rich background to the body of Christ and are carried out lovingly to the smallest nuance of detail. Its strong naturalism is nonetheless …

1. Quality is in the details 

The works of Michelangelo are known for their extraordinary attention to detail. You can see it in the complex folds of the Virgin’s robe in the Pietà, in the veined hands the statue of David, and in the elaborate ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The ability to pay attention to the smallest details is important because it allows you to reach a level of excellence not easily achieved by others. If you carry this into your work—whether you’re in customer service, marketing, and more—then you have a chance to create something of real quality.

2. Step out of the box

Michelangelo was passionate about sculpture. It was his true love. When he looked at a piece of marble, he could already see the statue inside it and all he had to do was to chisel away to set it free. His love for sculpture did not stop him from painting. He worked on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with little knowledge of frescoes. He ended up employing the same meticulous attention to detail, discipline, and radical insight and created two of the most astounding frescoes the world has ever seen: the scenes from Genesis on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and The Last Judgment on its altar wall. If you want to expand your knowledge, step out of the box and push yourself. You might discover a hidden talent.

3. Believe in teamwork

In creating his masterpieces, Michelangelo was never quite the romantic lone wolf everyone thought him to be. He drew sketches, created miniature models, and directed a team of artisans to help bring his vision to life. Experts believed that he worked with at least 12 other painters to complete the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. This is a prime example of teamwork. Other people are on the team supporting and helping each other to achieve success.

What have you learned from Michelangelo’s life and incorporated it into your own?

Corey Hubbard
Corey Hubbard


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Six Social Media Posts That Can Get Your Rejected for a Job

When looking for a job, you want your resume to present you at your very best. But what about your social media accounts? In our social media-obsessed world, your image in social media is just as important as your resume. Recruiters today will view your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram accounts in their attempt to get to know you better. Your social media accounts are extensions of yourself and if they like what they see, they’ll most likely call you for an interview. While it seems easy to maintain a respectable image on social media, it’s also easy to make mistakes that can jeopardize your job search. 

Here are six social media posts that you should avoid while looking for a job:   

  1. Post inappropriate comments, pictures, and videos

The general rule is, do not post anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see. I’m talking about nude and semi-nude photos, sexy videos, inappropriate angry outbursts, comments that suggest or encourage illegal activity, etc. Be responsible because your image is on the line and your future employer is watching.

  1. Post nothing 

It’s a bad sign if employers can’t find you online or if you’re not posting anything online. It suggests that you’re hiding something or you’re a terribly boring person who has nothing to show. The solution is to start posting. Post a picture of your cat or even the beautiful view outside your window is a great start. The key is to appear active online.

  1. Post everything about your life

On the flip side, employers also don’t want anyone who posts all their private thoughts by the minute or hour. A little privacy helps. Posting constant status updates on Facebook is annoying not just for some of your friends but for prospective employers as well. Oversharing is worrisome because prospective employers may see you as someone who has the propensity to share confidential information.

  1. Post any disparaging comment about your previous employer

Bad-mouthing a former boss can turn off future employers. It shows bad judgment and says so much about your character. Employers prefer people who can make good decisions. Remember that it’s important to be aware of your own emotional response not just in the outside world but in social media as well.

  1. Post a picture of yourself drunk or doing drugs

You might think it’s cool or even funny for your friends to see you drunk or enjoying recreational drugs, potential employers will most likely reject you. Although a few snapshots of you in intoxicated condition certainly don’t mean that you won’t be a good employee, employers would rather stay on the safe side and look for an applicant who strikes them as someone responsible, self-disciplined, and conscientious. 

  1. Post any politically incorrect statements

Any statement that is disrespectful or objectionable to a particular group of people should be avoided. These include racist, bigoted, homophobic, and sexist statements, biases against religion, and other discriminatory comments. 

Corey Hubbard
Corey Hubbard


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Six Things to Cut from Your Resume (And Two You Should Add)

Most people spend hours tearing up resumes and sweating over each and every word until the ideal picture of themselves shines through, which, ironically, might only reflect the stylized version of yourself that society wants to see. This is all played out in a much more dramatic fashion for women, who remain a minority in the tech industry and as such are exposed to assumptions and negative stereotypes on a regular basis. 

So how do you do justice to your intelligence and ambition without accidentally objectifying yourself? Aside from removing that personal headshot, here are six things to absolutely cut before applying to your next job:

1. The Buzzwords 

Billowing, grandiose, and superlative language is all empty from the perspective of a recruiter or a hiring company. 

2. General Descriptions of Duties

Going fully objective may come across as too ice cold, too rudimentary. You want to write about how you innovated the position you held by finding unique ways to solve problems. If you need to be slightly creative in this regard then go for it – it’s better than listing rudimentary duties.

3. Basic Software (like Microsoft Office)

Why state the obvious when you only have 30 seconds to make an impression?

4. Don’t Use Paragraphs

The most frustrating thing for a recruiter or boss is having to read through sentence after sentence to get to the point. It shows you are not clearly focused as an individual and therefore not cut-out for the position. 

5. No Hobbies or Interests

Assuming it’s not your first job in the field, anyone with a little experience should have more valuable things to add than what they like to do on the weekends. If you want to keep the conversational tone flowing, putting a Skills section below your work experience is a better fit.

6. A One-Size Fits All Resume

A study from CareerBuilder found that most employers (61% to be exact) want to see a resume tailored to the specifics of the open position. Getting into specifics by showing how your skillset matches the particular responsibilities of the job will set you apart like nothing else.

What Helps My Cause?

Like every industry, the world of tech is all about skills. All kinds of skills. But how do you get them in there? 

  1. Divide and Conquer. The first thing you need to do is make a ‘Professional Skills’ section AND a ‘General Skills’ section (which emphasizes the soft skills like communication and diligence)
  2. Super-Short Objectives Statement. Focus on a one-sentence phrase that defines what you are looking for in the job. 

The Stakes Are High 

A dream job only comes around once in a blue moon, and you want your resume to be that deciding factor in calling you for an interview. We also know that being true to yourself as a woman in the tech industry means carefully avoiding stereotype potholes that give the wrong impression. Start making the right impression by taking these things off your resume and adding these two!

By Corey Hubbard

 Corey L. Hubbard
Corey L. Hubbard


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