Setting the 'Leadership DNA' of your Start-up: Five Lessons I've Learned

In a post earlier today on Fast Company, I discuss why the first five hires are so critical for all start-ups, and why that "leadership DNA" makes or breaks companies. Have a look below, and be sure to head over to Fast Company to read the full article:

For any company — whether you’re manufacturing athletic shoes, selling medical devices or developing cloud-based software — talent is the most important piece to the long-sought-after puzzle to long-term success. Talented people want to work with other talented people. You need to keep the proverbial bar high.

That philosophy is never more important than it is when you’re looking to build out the leadership team for a start-up. Many accomplished technology executives have told me that a new company establishes its culture — and its bar for talent – based on the first 20 hires. Now, that’s well and good, but the most important trait of any company is what I call “Leadership DNA,” the strands that not only define its values and vision, but that are replicated across future hires.

In my mind, a company’s Leadership DNA is set even sooner than its culture and created by the first five leaders of any company in any environment. Getting it right often makes or breaks start-ups. So, how do you get this combination of people right for that next breakthrough idea and the team that will support it? Here are five pointers:

1. Picking Your Co-Founder(s) is the Biggest Decision You’ll Make: Perhaps the most important decision in life you make is picking the right person with whom you walk down the aisle. I’d argue that picking the right person with whom you start a company is right below your spouse in terms of importance. If you’re throwing all your chips in on as risky bet as is a start-up – particularly after attaining a successful, stable role elsewhere (for me it was founding Okta after running engineering at – you better find someone you can trust and someone you know will match you in terms of drive, stamina and creativity.

To read the rest of the article, please visit Fast Company.