Steve Explains: The Un-Crush Objects and His Broken Heart

Last week I talked about what makes a Fan-To-Pro Crush Object and/or a Resume Worthy company, at least for myself.  In figured this week I'd take the time to explain what gives he the hiring heebie-jeebies when I see a company in the news.

So in no real order, here are the red lights that set off my warning bells . . . and push me into mixed metaphors.  Not all of these immediately make me say "hey, no one should work there," but as they build up . . .

  • Job cuts.  Look, not all job cuts are bad, but still when you need less people, then certainly I'm not sure that you're resume-worthy for the readership.  Also I find they're often made in desperation.
  • No direction.  Who are you and what are you doing, company?  If I can't make it out and all I see is meandering, then I'm going to be concerned you're not a target for the readership's career choices.  Size doesn't matter here.
  • Bad location.  Good companies can be anywhere, but some places show more promise than others.  As cool as you may be, do people want to live where you area?  For that matter, are you in the kind of place where investors rain down Venture Capital or not?
  • Clueless advertising and marketing.  Sure it's almost certainly done by some outsourced agency who creates your ads and adulations, but if you can't give those people good direction or clamp down on dumb ideas, then you've got an issue.  Bad management is bad management.
  • No stability.  Stability is a bit hard to classify – or expect – in tis day and age, but at least make a try.  If everything is changing all the time, you're moving, the product is changing, etc. it doesn't look dynamic and innovative, it looks desperate and insipid.
  • Disrespect.  Show some respect for your customers, employees, and competitors.  Otherwise you're not only a jerk, you're undermining your relations with the people that pay the bills, do the work, or can crush you.  It also shows that you've got too many people who are egomaniacs, and even if they succeed, the company may not.
  • The wrong kind of retro.  There's old-school that's hip, then there's just backwards and clueless.  If you're old-school, show enough savvy to show you know it – otherwise you may look backwards or even be backwards.
  • A lack of a sense of humor.  A lack of humor is a lack of awareness.  I am not too turned off by not being humorous, but an extreme lack of humor is a dangerous thing.
  • Follow the leader.  Innovate, OK?  Even a little bit?  If you imitate at least imitate your way?  Otherwise you seem unoriginal and unoriginality isn't a confidence builder.
  • Doesn't provide value.  If all you do is shift cash around and do nothing then I'm not interested

So there's the rather abstract guide to what makes me take a company out of my "the readers should work for it" lists.  I hope it helps.  it was at least therapeutic to write on my end.

Steven Savage

What Makes a Crush Object For Steve?

Here at fan to pro, we talk about our Crush Objects, what goes into the Resume-Worthy Roundup, etc.  But we don't explain our philosophy about it.

Well Bonnie and I don't exactly have a unified philosophy about it, but here are the things that makes me crush on a company – and make me think that you might want to send that company a resume.  Next time you see a News of The Day or a Resume-Worthy Roundup, here's what I'm thinking, in no particular order, and not that every company has to meet all these requirements:

  • Bright Idea or Right Idea.  I want a company with good ideas, either really innovative, really stable, or both.  If a company can innovate and have a stable, reliable idea then I'm bang alongside it.  Just remember sometimes a dull idea that works is better than an unsure brilliant idea – and a brilliant idea may be better than a dull, plodding approach.
  • Right location.  This isn't always important to me, but some locations seem more promising than others because of prominence, recruitig opportunities, and the fact investors do seem biased to some physical locations.  My biases tend towards Seattle, the Bay Area, Greater Boston, Toronto, Vancouver, New York, Baltimore-DC, and Chicago.  The megaregions, in short.
  • Money.  The company should be financially stable or have some great Venture Capital.
  • Venture Capital.  Steve's Rule is that if someone invests $10 million or more in a company, I pay attention.  It's sort of an intuitive thing with me.  $10 million is the magic number – though in some cases, less is OK if there are other good factors.
  • The right person.  You hire some CEO or innovator with a good record, and I'm going to pay attention.
  • Savvy.  I want to see smarts, an edge, something clever – or something so functionally dull I can't deny it works.  I also want to see that you've addressed concerns before others raise them.
  • Communication.  This is amorphous, but I like companies that can communicate their ideas and are open about what they do (though in the case of stealth startups I know that doesn't always happen).  Tell me and others why you're good, talk to us.
  • Demo.  If you can show me why you're good, even with a prototype, I pay attention.
  • Right Time.  Are you coming in at the right time, or planning for a time that's right in the future?  Then I pay attention.
  • Survival.  I admire companies that ride out bad times.
  • Personality.  This is amorphous, so I think it's obvious.  I do like a company with a human side and that is "itself."

So that's what gets companies to crush object status with me and/or gets them into the Resume Worthy Roundup.

Now, feel free to argue – or tell me your standards!

Steven Savage