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People on the Bus

In listening to another entrepreneurial podcast yesterday, (I love venture voice, which to me represents the future of media..extremely targeted niche shows, but that’s for another post) I heard yet another tale of the importance of building a good team. David O. Sacks was a founding member of Paypal, the world’s largest online payment service, which was sold to eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002.

While the idea of being able to send and receive money via email seems so simple and necessary, yet brilliant, it wasn’t always that clear.  In fact, paypal was at one time not headed anywhere near this path.  Paypal wasn’t started with this grand vision of transforming how people send and receive money on the Internet, they actually started with a different goal in mind: to allow people to send and receive payments on palm pilots…what?  That’s right, that was their business model, a model that certainly was doomed for failure from the start.  But it was a boom, boom time and money was everywhere.  They were able to raise some money on this business plan, and create the company.  But the key here is how they spent the money…on people.  They set out on hiring the very best they could find, not worrying necessarily about what roles needed to be filled, but more so on just getting great people.  Once they assembled a great team, the team determined that beaming payments on palm pilots was not a business worthy plan.  They created a new, more powerful model to allow anyone and everyone to send payments via email..and the rest was history.

The moral of the story, for me, is that it really doesn’t matter what your project or business idea is. A good idea certainly helps, but for the most part isn’t worth much without a good team behind it.  If time and money is spent on attracting and hiring the very best people available, then everything else falls into place.

As Jim Collins says in his amazing book, Good to Great, the great companies just put the great people on the bus, knowing the great people would know where to sit and even more importantly where to take the bus. If  you want to make a difference, you need the right people on the bus.  I’m working on that now.

3 comments on “People on the Bus

  1. Larry Baker says:

    Bravo Dan. Boy did you inherit some brains…but/and you have converted it into wisdom beyond your years!


  2. Teddy Scherpenberg says:

    That is so funny you bring up the bus. I read that book this year. Actually I was required to read it for a Deloitte Leadership class. What a great book. The things mentioned: Level 5 leaders, the Bus, etc. make so much sense. The Bus phrase originated with some hippie acid eating guy. I think the guys name was Tom Wolfe an the name of the book was Electric Kool – Acid Test. I think the original quote was from a guy name Kesey?


  3. Don’t obsess with finding the “great idea..” at Life Putting - Dan Putt says:

    […] finding the “great idea,” even though I’ve always believed what Jim said above. This idea really made sense to me after listening to a Venture Voice podcast last year about the fou… While I think it is definitely important to have an idea or even more importantly a mission (such […]


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