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Hire people who love their work, they will work 24/7

Love their work

Does your team love their work?

Confucius say:  Choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life.

HRNasty Say:  Hire people who love their work, and they will work 24/7.

I used to think the first quote by my Asian brother Confucius was Bullshit. That is something your parents and mentors would tell you to either demoralize you or perpetrate a wise man. I have always been a big fan of his work here:

It is better to keep one’s mouth shut and let everyone think you are a fool rather than open it and remove all doubt. 

(I am generally very quiet, Mrs. HRNasty is a little louder)

We are always trying to hire folks who love their work. These folks have that thing we call FIRE. FIRE is a term our CTO came up with and is explained in more detail on slide 9 of his FAAAC doc here. Natural Curiosity, passion for what they do, an internal desire. Think about it this way. Who do you want working on your car? The guy that goes home and works on fixing up his hot rod, or someone who goes home, turns on the TV with a six-pack of beer.

Every week, our developers “demo” what they worked on in the last weeks Sprint.  This week was a little different.  One of the dev’s demo’d something he had been working on for the past two weeks IN HIS SPARE TIME. His Demo was amazing.  It will save ALL of our devs a ton of time, and make our Biz Dev team and CEO’s lives much easier. It will make a HUGE impact on our workflow. Yeah, I was proud.  This is a team that loves their work. 

3 weeks ago, another Dev came up with a game using our API that we are going to take to conferences and have on display at our company booth. He developed something that will help our company  – in his spare time. He even wanted to donate the hardware to ensure that it would be put into use. That is FIRE!

HRNasty says:  Hire people who love their work, and they will work 24/7.

I recently met a developer/product manager who was talking about how he was reading the Retrospectives on some larger rollouts from BlueChip tech companies.  (For those of you not familiar with a Retrospective, think about it like a PostMortem.  A review of what went well, what didn’t and how to improve the next time. In Agile Development, this process is called a Retrospective)

Whoaaaaa. You read that stuff??? Seriously? Most people would think this guy is too much of a geek. I didn’t even know these things existed.

But think about it. Who wouldn’t want to hire this guy to be a developer? I know we wanted him on the team. Not because he was a cool cat, (there is something about a $15K stereo in a brand new Scion with a custom paint job that says “bad ass” to me.  Epitome of a Brogrammer)  but because this guy had FIRE.  He had that natural curiosity. He isn’t just learning from the mistakes his team made. He is learning from others IN HIS SPARE TIME. This is a guy that might not be writing code for the company around the clock, but I am pretty sure he is thinking about how to write more elegant code most of his waking hours. Yes, we got him!  He is working with us!

A few months ago a friend of mine asked me for feedback on his team’s lack of passion. This guy is an entrepreneur and has a very successful business where he teaches people how to make money in Real Estate.  Sounds schlocky I know, but this guy is really successful. He has a bunch of customer service folks that answer calls on his series of books. He asked me in disbelief: why don’t any one of these guys take the lessons from this course and make a ton of money in real estate? They know the course; they are answering questions on the topic every day.  He even said that he would fund their first home.  Not a single person took him up on his offer. No Passion.  Nada, Zip.  They don’t love their work.  

I sometimes think I have one of the best jobs in the world. I know that sounds very “HR”, very Polly Anna, and NOT HRNasty. But I do really dig what I do.  After hours, I am working on this blog. On the weekends, I am helping folks with their resumes, interviewing skills, career roadblocks and reading HR books.  (yes they exist).  Currently, I am reading You’re Better than your Job Search by Marc Cendella, CEO of and Find a Job through Social Networking.  (I am not looking for a job, I am trying to figure out where to look for more candidates)  I think that the after-hours stuff helps my day job between 8-7 and the day gig gives me the opportunity to become better at helping folks with their careers in my after hours.

I and a buddy submitted a product feature to our technology that has a good chance of going into development on our API.  The idea came up because I wanted to see it on this blog. Our idea isn’t as sophisticated as this guy’s thought leadership and work that is posted here, who I am proud to say is also on the team, but I am happy to say the HR guy had input on the product.

I used to hear the phrase “Do what you love and you won’t work a day in your life” a lot, especially from my parents’ generation.  But when I saw them working, I never really thought they loved what they did.

I must be getting old, cuz now I am saying it. “Hire people with FIRE, they will work 24/7“.


See you at the after party,


nasty:  an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something.  “He has a nasty forkball.”  

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  • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

    Fire is a great intangible that adds that extra sauce to any new hire. It’s difficult to find, but when you do, organizational magic can happen. Congrats on finding some good candidates, especially from the Gen Y set. Your recruiting service providers must be slacking.

  • Larry McKeogh

    There is certainly some truth to the title and content of your post.  I also applaud the learning you are doing in the after hours.  I do this as well, but it only takes me so far.  Here’s a nasty maneuver for you: organize and train some of your fellow HR-ites. Don’t think small <10 think BIG – 100's.  You don't personally train them, but bring together others and allow the best to shine.  HR is getting a bad rap and could use some serious assistance. (I happen to know some good ones thus reserve a blanket generalization)

    How? Start an unconference.  Google "hr uncoference" the only one I see is in London.  I did this locally and it turned into a great thing.  Ask your product manager dude if he's going to San Fran or Seattle Pcamp.  If not why not?  Maybe use that as an opportunity to check out what they are and talk to some people about how to get one off the ground.  If you need ideas let me know.  If not you, I'll get someone locally to do it.

    If this is already happening in the HR community, I'll be quiet. Please delete this comment.  It's not my focus.

    • Larry, thanks for the comment, much appreciated Brother of Influence.  I totally agree that HR gets a bad wrap.  I too know a few good ones, but for the most part, I believe we only have ourselves to blame.   We do not have “unconfernces” for HR, but we do have a number of large groups that meet monthly, including one of the largest on the west coast, but usually very organized.  Not as “on the fly” as what ProductCamp Seattle appears to be.  I  know a few folks on the guest list, so I will sign up and attend.  Thanks, I hadn’t heard of this before, and be a great place to gather new ideas.  

  • larryhope

    One of the reasons for lack of FIRE is the coddled folks coming into the workforce.  Not ALL are slackers but many (more than 50%) are just that.  Please don’t simply write me off as a crotchety old man (just 43).  I have the opportunity to deal with people daily in generations on either side of my own.  There is a distinct difference and I think a great deal has to do with “feel-good, everybody-wins, everybody-get-a-trophy” culture in which the Gen Y’s were raised.  We’ve, as a society, ROBBED them of the normal ups and downs most well rounded people experienced while growing up.  The following video summarizes this problem perfectly.

    The big question though is…. Can this be “un-taught”?

    • Larryhope, thanks for sharing the video.  I have never seen this.  I agree with this guy on a lot of fronts.  I am also proud to say that everyone of the folks I mentioned in the above post are just a few years out of school.  They are GenY.  I think a very high percentage of our folks have FIRE.  We hire for it.  Those that don’t have it, do learn to step it up.  It doesn’t happen over night, but they do learn over time.  Being surrounded by great players forces everyone to raise their game.  We are lucky, but I like to think that to a certain degree, we create and promote the luck.