“When I hire someone, I make two promises. And I ask for two promises in return,” said Paul English — currently the co-founder of Boston Venture Studio but perhaps best known as the co-founder and CTO of travel platform Kayak. “I promise them that they will have the most fun they’ve had at any job.”
What he means by “fun,” he explained, was that he likes to give people the freedom to do what they need to do — to try things out.
“The second promise is that your skills will accelerate faster than at any other company,” he added, suggesting that he really values investing in staff and trusting what they do. A micromanager, he said, is failing at both of those promises: It isn’t fun, and the team isn’t trusted to work toward their goals.
“Are all the people sitting around you energy vampires, or do you have fun with them? Do they enhance your ideas? Do they stimulate you? Or are you sitting with someone who’s kind of an asshole?” Boston Venture Studio co-founder Paul English
“If you are micromanaging, you are already failing to realize that a person is no longer a good fit for the team. It doesn’t mean they aren’t talented — it may be just a case of the wrong person, wrong place.”
We caught English as he was talking at a conference organized by venture fund Baukunst in Boston yesterday. We wrote about the new fund’s first close back in April; yesterday, the fund announced that it had closed its full $100 million fund — the largest amount raised for a debut fund at the pre-seed stage.
So what does English ask from his employees? That’s where things get truly interesting.