Humility, Passion & Intelligence: Foundations of a Great Marketing Team

By October 26, 2015
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My mentor and friend Maureen Kelly once told me, “Bad marketing costs more than good marketing. Hire and spend on great people and you win. Hire bad people and lose”. Maureen has a way of summarizing things into a cogent, clear, and comprehensive statement and I certainly don’t like to lose.

Obvious to everyone, hiring great people is a LOT easier said than done. I’ve had some hiring hits and some misses but have also been lucky enough to be on some of the greatest teams ever assembled.  And, if I think back to the characteristics of the standout individuals on these teams, a pattern arises.  The constitution of each person comprises three key characteristics: humility, intelligence, and passion. Let’s explore each.

But, before I do—I have to fit in a shameless plug—EverString is hiring and we would love to hear from you. So be sure to check out all of our open jobs.

#1: Humility – Your life is a Beta

Humility is the #1 trait I look for when evaluating candidate,  and I guess my interview style is predictable…there’s a lot of questions followed by “what did you learn from that?” or “how would you have done that differently?”.  This is such a critical trait to uncover—and to me, the most important part of the process.  Having a stubborn know-it-all will poison an otherwise great team.  Having a crew of people that are all learning and promoting each other will fuel a creative, productive rocket ship of a team.

Evaluation of humility doesn’t end with the interview.  Everyone should continuously keep themselves in check. Some of you may be surprised by this, but the younger version of me (version 1.0) was not the most humble.  Yeh, yeh, as hard as that is to believe…it’s true (ok some of you, stop laughing).  There was a time when I thought I knew everything, and man, was I wrong. There have been a few key moments in my career/life that taught me to have more humility, and while painful, I endured and emerged a stronger human. I’ve learned a lot along the way, but no lesson more important than this…your life is a beta. There is always another way and you should intently listen to learn what that other way is.

I found a quote this morning that sums up what I mean . They are words to live by and they summarize an important trait you should seek out when hiring team members.

“I am professionally and personally in beta. My life is a constant process of debugging, exploring new functionality, adding new features and, yes, sometimes rewriting legacy code”.

Liza Sperling
Alpha girl, forever in beta 

#2: Intelligence – Some People Just “Get It”

Intelligence is a funny word. In this context, I think of it less as “book smarts” and more of a combination of “street smarts” and common sense.  Ultimately, my definition of intelligence is an evaluation of how quickly somebody “gets it”.  We live in a complex world.  There are systems, processes, and concepts that are continuously evolving.  Having a team of people that can not only get it quickly, but can also keep up is critical. In fast growing organizations, this is super important, as it contributes to the overall speed of the group. I love it when we, as a team, finish each others sentences.

Identifying this trait during an interview is tricky, and I often drill into this characteristic as part of the reference checks. I’ll ask their references about pace of work, leadership of ideas, or how well they worked within a collaborative environment.

#3: Passion – Driving Change Through Leadership

Passion comes from people in many ways. Some people, like myself, are animated and loud. We can’t hide our passion and naturally expose this trait.  At the other end of the spectrum is the silent killer who will not overpower you in an argument but will follow his passion to transparently drive change. Both personality types are great because, ultimately, passion helps your team and your organization believe in the mission.  Is there anything better than a team of passionate believers?  Passionate people not only deliver high quality results, but they can also be effective change agents in an organization. One note of caution…passion by itself can be dangerous. However, when it is combined with humility, it is killer.  Make sure to keep all three traits in check and interview for them.

Scorecards: Evaluate and Measure all Three Traits

I think I was always aware of these traits, but it didn’t synthesize into a framework until recently.  I use them as a candidate scorecard because, ultimately, if you can find people that are humble, intelligent, and passionate—you win.  Of course, hiring rock stars who have mastered their craft is important, but if they don’t have these characteristics, you are taking a risk.

Are You Humble? Intelligent? Passionate?

Do you personally have these traits? If so, we’d love to talk to you and encourage you to visit the EverString careers section. And finally, another shameless plug, we need you on our marketing team!  We currently have five openings and would love to talk to you.  Explicitly, we need:

  • Marketing Ops
  • Event Management and Coordination
  • Social and Influencer Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • And a great Graphic Designer

If you or anyone you know are interested in these roles or the myriad of other positions we have open, we would appreciate all referrals.

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