The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten on Smash Notes

The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten podcast.

Unfiltered insights and actionable advice straight from the trenches of startup and business life. The show hosts, Steli Efti and Hiten Shah, are both serial entrepreneurs who have founded multi-million dollar SaaS startups. Being busy CEOs of fast-growing companies, they know the value of your time and make sure you get the most out of each 22 minute episode. Tune in for new episodes every Tuesday and Friday.



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Do you ever feel like someone on your team is out to get you? Or maybe an employee has learned to tune you out? When you’re struggling to manage your team, or handle your employees, then this episode is for you, because Steli and Hiten are going to talk about what to do when your people are being difficult. They will also share their thoughts on the importance of personality and company culture, and how these two should fit into your business.

Time Stamped Show Notes:


00:05 – Today’s episode is about dealing with difficult team members

00:36 – Steli got an email from a sales manager who’s having problems with a member of his team, and wants to know how to deal with her


01:07 – He had a team meeting and told people they should not demo more than 4 features in the product during the first call, everybody followed his advice but this person shared 10-11 features and told other people on the team that she was doing that

02:02 – She was also underperforming


03:01 – Hiten addresses the sales manager – why do you think she doing that? Have you talked to her about it and what has she said about it?


03:35 – There is a myriad of reasons why she is doing that and to make assumptions is not as good as speaking to her

04:24 – Hiten says his gut feeling is the person is not a good fit for the team and does not get the process


04:42 – Steli says why the person is doing what she is doing matters


05:15 – There are good and bad reasons , a good reason is the person is passionate about an idea or approach and wants to champion it as opposed to those who just want to do the opposite…to “stick it to the man”

06:04 – Some people just think their ideas are always better and can’t adapt


07:53 – Steli says the manager was able to have a conversation with his team member, but was unable to convince her to only demo 4 features


08:21 – If that’s just her personality and it cannot be changed, the better option is to help her find a team where she can be herself and align with the company culture

08:53 – If there is no team, then her personality is not a good fit for the company


09:16 – A personality is not fixable


09:37 – People don’t always need to agree for there to be a healthy culture


10:14 – If disagreement is the norm then it’s toxic

10:21 – At Close, people did the exact opposite of what Steli told them to do and they were right, an example of this is their company logo

11:36 – Another example is Quora and one team member wanted to market thru there


12:04 – Steli told her to not waster her time on Quora but she went ahead and did it anyway and Quora became their highest source of traffic and conversion


13:10 – Steli says he loves that people on his team are comfortable enough to not follow everything he says

13:50 – If you are a good leader, it should not be about you and your ego

14:11 – A good team culture is one where you have diverse opinions, people are comfortable arguing and when people can convince each other with results

16:13 – There are companies who would complain even if the results were good just because someone disobeyed them


16:24 – “A lot of people are insecure about their authority and how they are being perceived”  


17:10 – Nuance and context matter


18:41 – Know the difference


19:30 – Hiten says he tries not to have strong opinions on something unless it is necessary

20:36 – Depending on what the culture is, team members need to know how to operate and leaders need to be clear and consistent in their handling

21:50 – Hiten’s tip: Be aware of patterns in other people especially if you are in a leadership position


3 Key Points:


Do not be reactive to your employees and their patterns, be cognizant and proactive of them so they never become a problem.

Key points in this episode

Key Highlights

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