Hiring Tips from Senator Ben Sasse | Conversations with Tyler

Hiring Tips from Senator Ben Sasse | Conversations with Tyler


COWEN: Before we get to the questions of others,
two final questions from me. When you’re hiring staffers or hiring in
other capacities, such as the university, obviously, we look for people who are smart,
people with good values, people who work hard. But what is it you look for in particular
that maybe other employers or other senators or other people don’t think carefully enough
about? SASSE: I think the only two talents I have
from a work standpoint are, I’m pretty good at sussing out when a strategic vision is
missing and building a menu of choices about what strategic choices we should be making. What do we need to decide for this corporation,
this small business, this not-for-profit, this college? And the second is, I’m decent at team building,
and the reason for that is, I only hire people who are big cause, low ego. And that pairing is hard to find. Yeah, great to be smart, and of course, there’s
a minimum threshold of how smart people need to be. But fundamentally, what I want is people who
want to be a part of a cause that’s bigger than themselves and they want to do something
that matters. They’re always asking that deathbed-like
question, “If I get the cancer diagnosis at 50 or in my old age at 85, when I look
back at my life, will I think I spent my 30th year well?” Well, it depends on whether or not I was pulling
on oars for some cause that’s bigger than me and doing it in a way that I didn’t care
who got the credit. And I want people on a team who, in that Aristotelian
sense, distinguish between deliberation, decision, and action, such that you have a team of people
who want to fight really hard when you’re deliberating among strategic choices. You want people who really are not bashful
about trying to lay out pros and cons of both their position and everybody else’s position
in the room and fight really, really hard. But then finally, when you pull the trigger
and make a decision, I want people on a team who don’t remember what side they fought
for because this was the decision we made. And once we made this decision, we’re going
this way, and nobody’s going to get credit because it was originally their idea or get
blamed because it wasn’t their idea. We want it to succeed because we’re on a
team. And that big-cause, low-ego impulse, those
are the people that are fun to work with, too.

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