This is a reverse-guesting episode where I was interviewed about my story in starting up SEO Hacker as the leading SEO Services company in the Philippines.
What are the bigger mistakes that taught you some very valuable lessons?
Some people say that when you’re a person standing atop of a mountain, you’re successful.
The reality is no I’m not. I am standing at the top of my failures. These things help me get to where I am.
If I chose to stay below these failures, I’d have nothing. I would be the laughingstock.
I chose to be gritty enough to get back up and try again. That’s why when people see you standing, it’s all because I failed a lot of times.
One of my biggest failures, especially in hiring, is to not take enough time in hiring.
When I hired before, I would just sit down with the applicant and talk with them. I didn’t have any in-depth knowledge that true HR and Psychology graduates have and use in the interview process.
This is partly the fault of my trusting people too much too early. It’s a strength and a weakness as an entrepreneur because if you give it to the right people, they will bloom. If you give it to the wrong people however, then they will stab you in the back.
When I was the one interviewing. I hired a lot of bad people. There were some gems in the rockpile, but even if you get good people, when you put them beside the bad ones, it’s going to end poorly.
I call the bad people donkeys and the good ones’ stallions. When you put a stallion by a group of donkeys, two things will happen. It’s either the donkeys will try to get rid of the stallions, or they will try to convert them into donkeys.
Stallions make donkeys look bad. They do the job well. On the other hand, donkeys are noisy, they don’t like being told what to do, and mediocre.
The bigger difference can be seen when a group of stallions and a group of donkeys are threatened.
When stallions are threatened, they face each other with their hind legs facing the threat and they kick outward to eliminate the threat.
When a group of donkeys is threatened. They face the threat, and with their hind legs kick each other to death.
A group of donkeys in your team, it makes for a stupid, gossiping and horrible working environment.
You won’t be able to hire and keep good talent this way. No stallion will want to work with you if you have a stable full of donkeys.
Our way of discerning the donkeys from the stallions is by making them endure the hiring process.
In SEO Hacker, we elongated the hiring process into 6 steps instead of just one. We send them home after each step so that they can accept another job offer from another company.
We want people who really want to work with us.
A lot of people apply. We have a huge number of initial applicants. But only around 2 or 3 survive the six-step application process.
It really helps filter out the incompetent, and those who don’t fit the culture.
Are there any other mistakes that have to do with other aspects of the job?
Most other mistakes that I have made are a lot less impactful to me.
Something that could have been done earlier is to hire and train salespeople earlier. I used to do that all on my own. I always thought that it should be the last thing to build on the team.
The operations team was built and running great. But the sales accounts team was just me.
It was very difficult because I had to juggle being the only sales and account manager and being the main SEO specialist in the team.
I should have looked for people who can replace me as the main sales and account manager sooner. I should have delegated to them slowly so that I could have worked on the business instead of in the business earlier.
Now that I’ve done this and am free to work more on the business, I could focus on leadership development. We’ve grown a lot since 2019. By the end of that year, we were around 52 people. We may reach around 80 people by the end of the year, only God knows.
When that time comes, I want us to have leaders already that will rise up to the challenge.