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Today on The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about the idea of nurturing talent internally vs hiring proven talent externally.

When it comes to key positions that need to be filled at a company, founders are usually faced with the dilemma of nurturing talent within the company or hiring people with a proven track record.

This decision typically depends on the amount of work a company is willing to do; nurturing talent means the company needs to put in time, effort, and resources in training its own staff while hiring one can be a much quicker process.

In this episode, Steli and Hiten highlight the pros and cons of hiring proven talent from outside the company vs nurturing one from within. They also talk about reasons why some people aspire to management and leadership roles, what motivates people to do this and much more.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:34 – About today’s topic.

02:56 – Steli is always big on potential and talent who always want to nurture people.

05:56 – Hiten thinks the decision is all about context.

06:50 – What makes management more important.

08:13 – Why it’s rare to see a successful company without managers.

09:06 – What making decisions really depends on.

10:16 – Why homegrown talent usually have a cultural bias towards the company.

13:22 – The reason why people aspire to leadership roles.

14:00 – Steli talks about a blog post that examines the leadership role vs being an individual contributor.

15:44 – One key reason why people want to be managers.

18:58 – Why you should give a chance to someone who’s eager to learn.


Hiring a proven talent or nurturing one internally depends on the circumstances/situation of the company.

Not all internal talents want to take on leadership roles for various reasons.

The only way to prove if someone is serious about changing is to give them a chance.


Steli Efti: Hey everybody, this is Steli Efti.



Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah.



Steli Efti: Today, what I'd love to talk to you about Hiten, is the idea of nurturing talent internally, versus hiring proven talent from externally. So, when you're a startup, you put together a small team. Typically, in the early days it's a group of incredibly entrepreneurial people, high risk takers. High buy towards action. Usually, maybe erring on the less experienced side of things. That's the typical startup, I would say in many cases, but more generalist type of people. People that could just pick up work, fix things, get things done and get shit done. They don't need to have a ten-year career in an area in order to tackle it and progress it, and move it forward. As the startup grows, there's still, I think always going to be some value in having these super-entrepreneurial generalists as part of the team. But you start becoming more specialized, and you hire more people that have done a certain job for a few months or years, because your expectations are higher, and now you're not a scrappy startup anymore. Now you're a little business that's growing. One thing in particular that I'm interested in, is the leadership perspective of this. You'll have people inside of your team that have a lot of talent, a lot of potential, and have the desire to grow as leaders, but are totally unproven and have never managed people, have never grown a team, have never hired people. Then, on the flip side, you can nurture talent to become more, to grow into leadership roles within your company over time, and invest heavily in seeing if they can go from being a specialist or, not a specialist, but somebody that's just doing ... An individual contributor, to growing into a leader in the company or a manager in the company. You coach them into that transition. Or, if such ends, you just look for outside talent.

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