Annoyance is a good thing for startups

I’ve hired a lot of people, let go some of them, a few of them went to Facebook & Google and a couple to start their own companies.

In all these ups & downs, the one strong quality I’ve noticed with people whom I enjoy working (and who are really damn good) is… annoyance. In a positive outlook, it may be called obsession but the feeling expressed to show your obsession is usually annoyance at something wrong/missing.

There are so many variables in a startup that it’s not possible to control everything. An easy solution can be to just give up or put the blame on someone else or something external (“oh.. I didn’t know we’ll hit HN front page, else I’d have done a better job”).

Startups require an extraordinary amount of sustained persistence with a continued obsession about the product. I’m super proud that *everyone* in the current team exhibit that quality which is what keeps us moving.

An e-mail from our designer..
I have spent the day working on designing the homepage below the fold and specifically submission-details (which would be carried over to the submission page) but I am frustrated with where the home page is. I can ‘t justify how the current content we are presenting entices a user to request an invite, or continue to tweak their bot….. <some info redacted>. Basically, I find myself rearranging deck chairs on the titanic, when I feel the real issue is the content that we arepresenting (not what it looks like)…I think this permeates into the interface.

An e-mail from our VP, sales
There are four items in the milestone. For the next week, everything we do should be to complete these items. If you’re working on an issue thats not on this list, please adjust your priorities. If I ask you to do something thats not on the list, tell me to shut up. :) If you have a “blocker” because something isn’t ready… Speak up! :) If you need text, copy, or something, just let the team know and we’ll all pitch in.

I can list a sample e-mail like this for everyone in the team. Remember that it’s an almost flat hierarchy and we’re just 15 people.

I realized that each individual has their own priorities set. However, to build a company requires the collective effort of all of them. The sales guy requires a feature from a developer, the developer requires elements from the designer and so on.. Add a bit of default startup chaos on top of all this. It becomes a mess.

Only someone who’s truly obsessed about her work can clear through all this and come out because she “owns” the piece. And naturally, there are going to be instances when you’re annoyed.

If you have never been annoyed, you have never been obsessed about your work. If you have never been obsessed about your work, you shouldn’t be working at a startup.

Hire obsessive, opinionated people. They’ll not only stimulate great discussions but also help in building a great company.