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One Hundred Million Dollars For An Empty Chair

Even if you have an enormous amount of money to invest, you can’t be sure you’re hiring the best person for a role unless you take certain factors into account. Gord and Dan share what you should really be looking for when you’re trying to make a splash in the marketplace, with many examples that have worked well in Dan’s more than 30-year entrepreneurial career.

In This Episode:

  • Music streaming giant Spotify is betting big on podcasting, spending almost a billion dollars to attract the biggest celebrities to its platform.
  • None of their major investments have turned into a hit show for the platform because the celebrities won’t show up to work.
  • In the best working relationships, each person does something uniquely that the other person wouldn’t know how to do.
  • There are two types of relationships in business formation and growth—those with your customers and clients, and those with people in your organization.
  • When there’s work that needs to be done and no one at your company is right for it, you need to attract someone who would be passionate about doing this particular work.
  • You don’t need to hire someone at the top of their game, only someone with potential to grow into the role.
  • People who have worked together for a long time have a kind of wisdom that can’t be written down in a manual.


The Bloomberg article that inspired this episode

Unique Ability®




The Impact Filter

The 4x4

Episode Transcript:
Gord Vickman: Welcome to the next episode of Podcast Payoffs. My name is Gord Vickman here with Strategic Coach co-founder Dan Sullivan. And I thought about this because it comes on the heels of a Bloomberg article that's making waves right now. So Spotify is-- People see it as a music streaming service, podcast streaming service, in direct competition with Apple basically. They've spent a billion dollars. Their Chief Content Officer Dawn Ostroff, as of 2018, spent more than a billion dollars buying shows and studios, deals with big celebrities. And none of it is panning out. And I think it had something to do with Unique Ability, Dan, and that's a concept that's been integral to Strategic Coach for how many years?
Dan Sullivan: If I look back, when it was first introduced into The Strategic Coach Program, it's the very early '90s. So '90, '92, '93, so 30 years, 30 years. And it's really the foundational stone for my teamwork with Babs Smith, who's my partner. We're married. So we've been married 36 years, and we've been growing the company for 33 years. We value each other so much because each of us has something that we do uniquely that the other person in the partnership wouldn't know how to do. We both see that having access to that other person's Unique Ability was crucial in multiplying who you were as just a lone entrepreneur as I was and she was when we first met 40 years ago.
So I would say the big thing is that, how does the skill of the person that you're bringing on board—so there'll be two types of people you're bringing on board—but one of them is to your organization, and the other one is customers and clients. Those are the two fundamental relationships in business formation and growth. But generally speaking, we have a rule that there's important work to be done. And oftentimes, it's something new. And there's important work to be done. And we don't have anyone in the company who has a Unique Ability for being successful with this. Might be a new danger, might be a new opportunity. So we have to attract someone who would be terrific about actually doing the work related to this particular issue. And that's how we've really grown our company. You know, for more than three decades.
Gord Vickman: I've heard you mention before, Dan, that when you're looking to bring in new team members, it's not a cost; it's an investment. And you're not necessarily looking for someone who's at the top of their game, but you want to see potential, someone who you believe and you foresee growing into the role and growing into what you expect of them. So if someone maybe doesn't have everything that you're looking for, you're prepared to sort of facilitate that growth. I've heard you say that before.