You Make Your Money When You Buy

I have heard variations of this quote from Robert Kiyosaki, Dave Ramsey, and a few others. The gist of it is this:

When investing in something, you make your money when you buy the something, not when you sell the something.

For example, when buying real estate, the deal is not in selling for more than you paid, but for buying for less than it’s worth.  This takes a lot of work and patience up front, and the passing up on many opportunities that are less than ideal.

I am just back from my first “meet up” with my team at Automattic, my new employer. This was a week-long get together in Austin, Texas, where our team of 12 worked together, played together, and got to know each other better.

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During the times we actually worked, we got together to brainstorm what our focus would be for the next 12 months, and what we should do to achieve it.

Having participated in strategic planning meetings before, I kind of knew the drill. I also knew that it could be hard to get 12 people who don’t know each other very well to communicate and brainstorm together to come to conclusions and strategies.

Our sessions, however, were a breeze.

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In meetings like these, there are typically individuals who either

  • Monopolize the conversation, or
  • Have their pet projects that they want to see realized, or
  • Don’t say anything, or
  • Make others uncomfortable, or
  • Show up late, or
  • Look at their phone the whole time, or
  • Don’t want to be there, or
  • Insert other awkward/offensive/unproductive behaviour here.

Well, not with this team.

These folks are engaged, hard working, funny, put-together, punctual, responsible.

We did what we had to do, made new friendships, and had fun in the process.

If you ask me why this was the case, this is what I would tell you:

The hiring process at Automattic is long and requires a lot of the applicant. It was created to filter out the individuals who, for example, would have been disruptive during our meetings in Austin. The process is long, but Automattic obviously understands that in business, people are everything. People buy your products, people write your cheques, people make your gadgets, people provide support for the people who bought the gadgets that people make.

Sure you can train your team after the hire.  You can invest time and money to mold them into a team player.  But that’s not the best way to go about this.

When it comes to people, Automattic makes their money on the buy.

After a week with my new friends, I couldn’t agree more.