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Thoughts for the New Leaders of the New Dot-Coms

June 16, 2000
Related Topics: The HR Profession, Your HR Career, Featured Article
There are quite a few new members of this site who have captured--or in some cases stumbled onto--HR jobs (or CEO/VP jobs with HR responsibilities) at young dot-com companies. You've been writing to us en masse seeking pearls of wisdom.

Well, 21 pearls. Just one man's opinion.

1. Nap. I used to work with an attorney who could nap in his office for 20 minutes and upon awaking from his slumber churn out work like you've never seen. He can't be the only one.

2. Meet with your CFO and the company's accountant. There are tax breaks you may not know about, including the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for hiring certain disadvantaged job applicants. Talk to your financial people about other ways you can add to the company's bottom line--or not take away from it. Focus on making money, on profit. Show how much your people are what will get your company to that goal. Everyone has ideas; people implement them or foul them up.

3. Don't get all caught up trying to offer trendy benefits like free massages. If your employees are so stressed out you need to bring in a physical therapist, it's not going to help to put a bandage over the tension.

4. Buy phone cards for employees who travel; outsource copying jobs; don't fax anything you can e-mail. Phone cards are a lot cheaper than calls from the hotel phone. Mass copying jobs waste a lot of time. Faxes require new cartridges and paper.

5. Learn to merge. You'll want to take an active role in evaluating merger and acquisition candidates based upon corporate culture, ease of integrating benefits, company strategy and values, and other factors. Once the marriage license has gone through, you'll want to be even more active in trying to make it work.

6. Hire people with hobbies. Whether someone's in Rotary or Sierra doesn't necessarily matter to your business. What matters is that those people often have the most energy.

7. Consider getting rid of sick days. You'll want to consider providing one pool of Personal Paid Leave--not a set number of sick days and a set number of vacation days. Why make people lie and say they're sick when they really just need a day to recoup?

8. Don't panic when your employees demand San Francisco salaries. Count your blessings that you're sitting on such a gold mine of human knowledge--the proverbial currency of the digital age. Then panic.

9. If you think Human Resources has a negative connotation in your organization, consider omitting those two words from your title. Use Vice President of Human Capital or Chief Workforce Officer.

10. Set aside time each day to learn more about the Internet. Hire a project worker at,,,, or other sites. Post a question at the General Forum at and search or Learn the search engines that work better than the big name engines--try northernlight, google, metacrawler. Bid on eBay. Even if you've done all these things long ago, by doing it all again you can learn something from eyeing new features and jotting down notes.

11. Don't think of policies as enforcement crutches. Sure, it's important to have a harassment policy. But it's more important to foster a culture where harassment is unlikely to exist and persist. A policy should be merely a written articulation of something you breathe daily.

12. Resist the temptation to hold long, ongoing conversations over e-mail that you could have in person or on the phone. Digital communication is absolutely wonderful for newsletters; seminars; e-learning; the transmission of documents; connecting people across geographic barriers; reminders; memos and more. But it's not always the most efficient way to have an ongoing on-on-one dialogue. Talk.

13. Remember April 7, 2000. That's the date President Clinton signed legislation repealing the earnings limit for Social Security recipients ages 65-69. They can now work without losing benefits, which means a large pool of untapped labor available.

14. Write to your members of Congress, Parliament, or the equivalent. Tell them what laws and regulations stand in the way of you making a bigger profit and in turn hiring more people. Ask for those laws to be changed. Ask why not.

15. Every week, learn something about another country than the one you live in. Your future employees, colleagues, competitors, peers and suppliers may very well be in Singapore or Australia. We're hearing from people who come to this site regularly from the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Barbados, Singapore, South Africa, Malaysia, India...

16. Think about the time you first learned to read and write. That's about the time (or later than the time) people under 30 first began to use high-technology (computers). These thoughts will remind you that the digital world is so second-nature to your future customers that it couldn't be a fad. Wires and cords and networks will disappear, but if you're using both offline and online opportunities effectively, your business won't.

17. Recruit your own employees. Headhunters, especially the dot-commers, are like pit bulls salivating over your best employees, calling them regularly at home and at work. To ward off the drool, fight hard to keep your own people and do your own preying on the competition.

18. Brush off that freshman psych textbook. Science tells that us positive feedback works best.

19. Work as closely with your marketing veep as you can. You'll need a unified strategy that brands your company as one that's attractive to both customers and employees.

20. When interviewing, focus on job duties; not preconceived notions everyone has based on appearances, perceived 'disabilities' and personality differences. The only thing that matters during an interview are the words that are spoken. Score interviews objectively.

21. Quote Shaquille O'Neal, who quoted Aristotle. Shaq recently repeated the words of Aristotle--that excellence is not a singular event; it is a habit. Try to do everything as well as you can. Those that report to you--and those you must report to--will respect you for it.


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