‘What We Learned in the Valley’ Part 1 – Building Successful Teams

December 10, 2013 Mark Dineen

This post originally appeared on the Titanfile blog on December 10th, 2013. 

TitanFile CTO Mark Dineen gives his notes on building teams that scale.


Sukhinder Singh-Cassidy at Adobe, December 3rd, 2013. Photo by Kris Krug.

From December 2-4, TitanFile got the opportunity to go to a program run by the wonderful C100 group called 48 Hours in the Valley. Here, we got the chance to take part in multiple seminars chock-full of advice for start-ups that want to make it big. The first seminar I attended was lead by Sukhinder Singh Cassidy: CEO of joyus.com and a very intelligent lady. She spoke on the topic of teams and how to make them successful. Unsurprisingly, it all starts from the hiring process. Her advice to us was:

As a CEO, only hire ‘A’s; don’t hire ‘B’s or ‘C’s.

Translation: your potential hire has to be a rockstar. The thought behind this being that ‘A’s will continue to attract and hire more ‘A’s while ‘B’s will only hire ‘B’s and lower. This is an obvious theory, but as most theories go, it becomes more complex in practice. Here are 3 tips to make it easier to find those shiny needles from a dull haystack:

  1. Realize your company strengths and definitely realize your weaknesses; this will enable you to hire people that will fill the gaps and solidify your company.
  2. Do not limit yourself by looking only at experience and education. Look for intellectual capacity and ability to think outside the box; remember – it is the person you want, not their function.
You might be surprised that when I was hired to TitanFile as a developer, I had no experience with Python which is the programming language that our back end is built on! I had to scramble to make it happen, but I made it work. Pick these kinds of people to be a part of your company!
  1. Gauge your potential employee’s operating range. Ask your interviewee complex questions on the topic of your expertise; aim for questions with a higher difficulty level than you expect to be answered first and go down from there until you reach a level that you deem to be un-hireable. This will give you great understanding of their capacity to think outside of the box and hopefully, their capacity to put your company ahead of the competitors.

Analyze the value of your hire after 3 months – if they can tell you more about their craft than their managers, then you have done your job as a recruiter. Successful organizations do not micro manage, they allow individuals to own their work. Having this attitude will give your employees the chance to progress further than you ever thought possible.

I would like to leave you with these last words: If your hire is not working out, don’t be afraid to make changes; a company must always be recruiting new and better talent in order to progress into the future.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of ‘What We Learned in the Valley’ – Years of Mentorship Crammed into 48 hours.


Titanfile Team at 48hrs Day 2! Photo by Kris Krug. 


About the author: Mark Dineen is the CTO of TitanFile. He is a veteran tech leader with over ten years experience in compliance and privacy-sensitive application and data management. 

About Titanfile: TitanFile is focused on creating better ways for people to communicate and collaborate online without having to worry about security and privacy. Using TitanFile, professionals can set-up secure communication channels to share files and messages, track who, where, how and when accessed the shared information, making compliance easy.  TitanFile extends the security and compliance perimeter of the enterprise beyond the firewall to include external communication with clients, vendors, and partners. 
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