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 kind of traits do these people have to have for you to entrust the gatekeeper position to them?
We have two Human Resource personnel. They do all of the hiring and legal work in terms of application. They do a thirty-minute drive-by interview just to get to know the applicant. After which they’re sent home. If we need to talk to them again for a second reason, then we’ll call them.
The second interview is all about the DISC and culture tests. Everyone in the next steps will look at these exams.
The third step is the exam for the position that they’re applying for. The team leader is the one who will interview them.
The next step is the interview with my wife. She has this amazing gut feel that I listen to. If the applicant is not good with her, then she doesn’t need to bring the applicant up to me. I trust her 100%.
What is the culture like in SEO Hacker?
Culture is the product of the DNA of the founder.
When I was starting out SEO Hacker, I was still a freelancer.
I had to respect what I was doing by respecting my time and efforts. When I did that, I finished everything ahead of time and I was able to experiment after finishing meetings and my legwork.
I would always push myself to learn something new.
I wanted to have a dream team. I wanted us to be united, have one vision, and one direction.
All of these culminated in our core values. That is the direction of our team.
Our core values are Grit, Respect for Work, Challenger, Clarity, Unity, Experimentation.
We depreciated some because we realized that they’re not core values. Integrity is a necessity. Beyond Technology is all about hard work. Empathy was not used correctly.
To live out the core values, it should first be set in your mind so that it will settle in your heart.
Culture is something that you just realize once you step into the room. I think it’s best described in a YouTube video called the Smell of the Place.
I can’t tell exactly describe what our culture is. What I can tell you is that It’s young, dynamic and unified.
How does one cultivate this self-awareness? What are the right questions that you have to ask yourself?
The first time I was able to draft a set of core values was in 2014. I’ve changed them three times now.
The first one was a huge failure. It wasn’t working.
One thing I learned in a podcast I listened to was that it was a gift from the past. It was something that your past self gifts your present self. But it’s your choice whether to accept that gift or not.
My first core values sounded nice, but it wasn’t working, and it didn’t make sense. It was useless.
Jim Collins, in his book “Built to Last” says that you can only have six core values. 7 or more will be to remember and practice.
The first ones that came to mind were integrity beyond technology and empathy. They are so important that if someone doesn’t have them, then they shouldn’t be here.
These became necessities that we set aside. We chose core values that not everyone would have at the get-go.
There are three kinds of core values. Aspirational, Accidental, and Permission to Play
Integrity and Beyond Technology are both Permission to Play. Our core is Grit and Respect for Work. Challenger, Unity, Clarity, and Experimentation are Aspirational values. We want everyone to practice it, but not everyone has it as of now.
These core values are a culmination of a lot of things including my experience and the books that I’ve read. I didn’t give much attention to accidental values.
I learned these things from big mentors like Jim Collins, Patrick Lencioni, John Maxwell, and Dave Ramsey. I read their books, listened to their podcasts, followed their advice, you develop this court sense meaning you’ll know when and who you should pass the ball to in your team.
It’s that court sense and the many experiences that I had over the years that culminated in our core values.