Why is it hard to hire a Game Changer?

If it's possible to hire someone who'll make the journey from $0-$100m significantly easier, why isn't everyone doing it all of the time?

A big part of what we do at Notion is working with Founders to guide them through the process of making their first external Game Changing hire. Usually this is a Chief Revenue Officer, but sometimes it’s a CTO, COO or CFO.

We’re not experts in psychology or academics who’ve extensively studied the difficulties in hiring but, from a number of conversations with Founders who’re on the brink of adding the first non-Founder to the senior team, we’ve accumulated some knowledge around the theme “why making the first big hire is so hard”.

There are the usual concerns including “what will this person actually be doing?” and “can we afford such a senior person?”. But alongside those difficulties, there are a number of common themes that crop up that aren’t widely spoken about, so Founders often think they’re alone in their quandaries.

The common concerns are:

  • What if I hire a Game Changer and they figure out that I don’t know what I’m doing?
  • What if I relocate a Game Changer from San Francisco to London, they bring their spouse and kids and pets and then…I can’t provide a great work environment for them?
  • How much will I need to pay this person, and why do Search Firms cost so much?
  • What if I straight-up just make a bad decision and hire someone who can’t do the job?
  • What if I hire this person and they change everything for the worse?

To be concise, these concerns are:

  • Imposter Syndrome
  • Pre-emptive guilt
  • Cost versus investment
  • Hiring the wrong person
  • Culture and values

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