• Matthew Lerner

Hiring for growth (the 50% + 90% rule)

Updated: Mar 16

The most common question I get from founders? How to hire good growth people. (It’s hard; “marketing” is only a subset of growth).

My standard advice:

“Hire someone who can do 50% of what you need, and can figure out the other 90%.” No, that's not a typo.

50% of what you need

What are the hardest things you need this person to do? (Using analytics tools and running Facebook ads is not hard). What is hard? Interviewing customers to discover their underlying psychological motivations, refining and testing a winning proposition, creating irresistible lead magnets and landing pages, brainstorming and testing bespoke channels, drawing surprising insights from data to make great decisions, managing priorities amid chaos and ambiguity, inspiring people to do their best work - those are hard things.

Come up with 1 - 3 hard things that matter the most for you.

… and figure out the other 90%

By the time you hire your growth expert, your “backlog” will be twice as long. The truth is, there is no set playbook – I guarantee they’ll need to figure out how to do things that they've never done before. Get someone who is not afraid to jump in, make a mess and figure stuff out... Someone who is constantly learning, comfortable messing stuff up, and then reflecting to learn from those missteps. In other words, avoid perfectionists and hire for growth mindset.

How do you hire for Growth Mindset?

Read my 3 best “growth mindset interview questions” #1 here, #2 here, and #3 here. I also use this interview technique to figure out if people have an internal locus of control.


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