Elad Gil is a Silicon Valley legend. After selling his startup to Twitter, he helped the company scale from 90 to 1500 people in under 3 years.
He’s also had enormous success as an angel investor, investing in startups like Airbnb, Coinbase, Square and Stripe.
So I was very excited to dig into his book, The High Growth Handbook. In it, Gil lays out his best tips for scaling a company at warp speed, along with interviews with a who’s who of tech.
Here are some of the best pieces of advice I found:
How to Hire
Gil’s approach to hiring is carefully structured. He suggests writing a job description for every position and asking each interviewee the same questions.
But even better than questions are actual tasks. The best way to assess someone’s skills is to have them complete a task similar to what they’ll do on the job.
He also counsels interviewers to write down their opinion of the candidate before speaking with other interviewers, to avoid groupthink. This is the same process used at Amazon.
And when you do find the right person, move fast!
How to Lead
So you’ve got your ideal employees. Now what?
In an interview with Sam Altman, Altman says that setting the company’s direction is just 5% of a CEO’s job. The other 95% is making sure it happens.
Gil also recommends holding skip level meetings with junior employees that don’t report to you. They tend to have their finger on the pulse of the market and are closer to the customers.
How to Rest
Gil used to work every weekend and even on “vacations.” But now, he tries to fully unplug.
This is something I struggle with! I was meeting with a company founder at nearly midnight on my vacation in Barcelona while my wife waited patiently upstairs.
We have to remember that if someone as successful as Gil can unplug for a few days, we can too!
In all, I found this book a very practical guide to building startups. My only criticism is that with the mix of interviews and Gil’s writing, and the jumping between topics, the book feels disjointed.
I think it would be more effective if it followed a company from birth to IPO, examining the challenges it faces on the way.
Nonetheless, if you’re interested in startups, Gil’s advice will help you. Check it out!
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