Sam Altman

How to build a team to execute your plan

Entrepreneur and investor Sam Altman explains how to recruit a team to execute your plan.

In this talk at Stanford University in 2014, entrepreneur, investor and former Y-Combinator President, Sam Altman, covers topics such as important founder characteristics, founder relationships, founder disagreements, employee equity and the role of the CEO.


  • 2:22 Today’s topics: How to hire (Team) and how to execute (Execution)
  • 2:45 Cofounder relationships. Among the most important. #1 cause for YC blowups.
  • 5:35 Characteristics to look for in a cofounder. “Relentlessly resourceful.”
  • 7:27 Second part of how to hire: Try not to. It sucks to have a lot of employees. Anyone with a bad employee in their first few destroyed the company.
  • 10:20 When hiring #1 goal: Get the best people. If you’re a rocket ship, then good people will notice and join. A single mediocre engineer can kill a startup.
  • 13:21 Where to hire? The best source is from people you know. Choose aptitude over experience in the early days.
  • 15:00 Things to look for when hiring.
  • 18:44 Employee equity. Aim to give 10% to first 10 employees.
  • 22:25 Fire bad employees fast. e.g. Negative or politicking people.
  • 24:55 When to have equity talks.
  • 29:06 Execution. The company culture models the founders.
  • 20:35 What are the jobs of a CEO?
  • 31:45 100’s of things competing for your attention. One of the hardest things as a founder. You need focus.
  • 33:50 The best founders talk about their goals over and over. You need good communication.
  • 34:36 Growth and momentum are extremely important. Have the right metrics and focus on growing them.
  • 38:50 Best predictor of success for founders: They continually get new things done.
  • 43:35 Disagreements between founders are settled by asking the users.
  • 44:45 The best thing a board can do for you: Review metrics & milestones.

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