Everyone Is Replaceable — But a Great Team Isn’t
Out of context, Rodolfo Saccoman’s assertion that “everyone is replaceable” sounds like the coldest expression of cutthroat corporate politics. But Saccoman, a winning Shark Tank contestant and the founder of AdMobilize, is no arrogant tyrant. In fact, he includes himself on his list of “replaceable people”; he really does mean everyone.
“I tell my team, ‘Look, I am replaceable,’” Saccoman says. “Everyone is replaceable — but as a team, we are not replaceable.”
See, Saccoman’s point is not that companies should treat their employees like cheap paper plates, used and then disposed of when they’re no longer good for their purpose. Rather, Saccoman wants to point out that the team is the true unit of success in a company, not the individual.
To illustrate his team-oriented worldview, Saccoman points to the Golden State Warriors, winners of the 2015 NBA Finals.
“Steph Curry was probably the biggest superstar on the team, but without the rest of the team, they would have never won,” Saccoman says. “He can’t do it alone.”
Teamwork is especially critical in the high-pressure environment of the startup world, where an emerging company’s success depends entirely on how well a small team can work together to pull off something marvelous.
Saccoman has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to putting together business teams, and his extensive experience has culminated in AdMobilize, about which he has only great things to say.
“I’m 38 now; I’ve been in business since I was 21. This is the best team I’ve ever been a part of,” Saccoman says. “I think the other team members would say the same thing, if you asked them.”
And how did Saccoman build what he considers to be the greatest team of all time? He drew on his years of experience and created a hiring process that focuses on four key principles — principles that may help you hire the best team for your business, too.
The first thing Saccoman looks for in a potential employee is aptitude: what is their skill set like, and can they immediately contribute to the company? Saccoman notes that a proper aptitude fit is beneficial for both the company itself and the new employee.
“The team member feels that they can make an immediate impact on the company, and the company receives a worker who can contribute in valuable ways right at the start,” Saccoman says.
It can be difficult to gauge a candidate’s attitude, Saccoman says, but “you need to figure it out really quickly.”
“In a team atmosphere, attitude is a really big deal,” Saccoman explains.
Some questions to keep in mind when assessing candidate attitudes include:
- Is the person a team player?
- Are they willing to hear constructive feedback?
- Do they understand the company’s situation?
- Are they able and willing to wear multiple hats?
Especially at the startup stage, employees need to be truly passionate. The going will get tough, and the company will need employee passion to carry it through rough times.
Rodolfo suggests assessing hunger in a few different ways:
- Is the person hungry to learn new things?
- Is the person hungry to create a company whose products are loved around the world?
- Is the person hungry to succeed and make some money?
4. Good Energy
Does the person energetically exude good vibes, even when the pressure is on? Saccoman admits that this is a thoroughly intangible criteria, but he also feels it is one of the most important.
“When things are really tough — and every company will face such moments — a person’s good energy can be contagious,” Saccoman says.
That contagious energy can lift the team’s spirits and motivate the squad to keep working toward the goal.
Remember: Building a Team Is Not a One-Size-Fits-All Activity
“This is the recipe that works for AdMobilize,” Saccoman says. “Someone else might have a different recipe. If you are a stockbroker in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, then maybe all you care about is finding someone who is very aggressive.”
The principles upon which a company can build the right team will depend on the company’s environment. Saccoman doesn’t intend for anyone to take his principles as gospel; they should feel free to use and modify the principles as needed.
That being said, Saccoman does believe that two of his principles apply to every company, no matter its situation: attitude and good energy.
“If you don’t focus on these things when hiring, you reduce your probability of being as great as you could be,” Saccoman says.
The overall lesson here is to never rely on superstars and to always hire with a team-building mindset. How a prospective employee will fit into the team makes all the difference in the world.
“You want to put all those pieces together, and when that happens, people can think creatively, they can push each other, and they can achieve greater things,” Saccoman says.