Another hallmark of J.C. Faulkner’s approach to building D1 was thathe sought and attracted the highest level of talent. Doug Crisp andother members of his management team left senior posts and prom-ising careers with one of the largest banks in the United States to joinD1. As they attracted others to the venture, a positive talent cycletook hold, where talented people created an energetic, achievement-driven culture, which attracted even more high performers.
J.C. soonrealized that the high level of talent at D1 had the unexpected effectof reinforcing open communication and accountability. “The dangerof hiring very smart people,” he says, “is you can’t ‘spin’ things tothem even if you want to. You are held accountable.”
Likewise, as a new founder, you can lessen your susceptibility tothe passion trap by partnering with the smartest, most talented peopleavailable, people who are driven to succeed, who can discern fact fromopinion, who will tell you the truth, and, most important, who caremore about the good of the venture than keeping you comfortable.
These benefits are additive to the more fundamental fact that the qual-ity of your core team will drive your ability to create value over time.“Your biggest challenge will be building a great team,” says John Doerrof the powerhouse VC firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield & Byers. “Inthe world today, there’s plenty of technology, plenty of entrepreneurs,plenty of money—what’s in short supply is great teams. Focus on theteam. Teams win.”
It helps to include a few cage-rattlers on your extended team, peo-ple who will speak in unedited language and who don’t suffer foolsgladly. Cage-rattlers are not the savviest communicators, but you willalways know what they think. “It is very difficult for the strong-willedentrepreneur to really listen to critics,” writes Daniel Isenberg, pro-fessor of management science at Babson College.
If you find peoplewho will be painfully honest with you, get them on board.”6 These might include co-founders, team members, prospective or actual in-vestors, advisers, mentors, or old high school buddies who have seenyou at your worst, as well as early-adopting customers who relish theright to complain about your offerings after surrendering their hard-earned money. Whatever their role, the cage-rattler’s essential quali-fication is an unedited propensity to poke holes in your plan, ask toughquestions, and raise worrisome possibilities.