Podcast Awesome

Character First: Why Font Awesome Doesn’t Hire “Rock Stars” and “A Players”

June 13, 2023 Font Awesome Season 1 Episode 10
Podcast Awesome
Character First: Why Font Awesome Doesn’t Hire “Rock Stars” and “A Players”
Show Notes

In this podcast, Font Awesome founders, Dave Gandy and Travis Chase, discuss how hiring the right people to the team is the first and best approach to building a strong company culture. 

The 37 Signals blog, and their books gave Dave and Travis inspiration on how to do business and software differently. Dave and Travis had both built software together and had proof that they knew how to create user-centric product design, so why not also build a people-first company, too? But they’d have to rethink standard hiring practices. 

Often, nearsighted companies hire so-called “A Player”, or “Rock Star” employees. Unfortunately, folks with this reputation are often egotistical jerks that cause more problems in companies than solutions. Why hire a new employee for their skills first, to only fire them for issues of character later? Dave believes this is backward. A key ingredient to creating a different sort of company is to hire folks who are first of all humble, possess the necessary skills for the job, and have a love for learning. The rest can be taught.  




Creating a Unique Work Culture


Exploring the Possibilities of Entrepreneurship


Adding Humanity to Business: How BaseCamp Found Success Through Dignity


Conversation on Hiring Practices and Bringing Dignity Through Software


The Impact of the Rock Star Mentality in the Workplace


Evaluating Work Product and Hiring for Character Fit


Hiring for Character and Personality


Strategies for Building Trust and Resolving Disagreements in a Collaborative Environment


Humility in the Workplace



Everybody that we hire, we want to spend some time working on a project with you. And we get the opportunity cost there, right? We get that when people are really, really in demand professionally, they may not want to take the time to spend 20 hours on a side project to see if it's a good fit. We get that this is time where we learn something and they learn something in a much clearer way is these the people I want to live my life with for a while? I want to wake up and go and to hang out with these people and build stuff with these people? The very people who are willing to have that question answered because they care about it are the right people we want to be working with anyway. We're willing to worry about that risk.

Most companies will hire for skill or competency first and then fire for issues of character, and that it's completely backwards. Right? This goes back to just running a company with common sense. In a lot of ways, that is how people tend to get fired. They did something, so we fired them. But what if you were hired for the same thing? 

What if we hired adults and we treated them that way? Because the truth is, so many of what other companies define as rock stars are terrible employees. But so often a lot of the employees that other companies have deemed B and C players are actually just A players currently under bad management.




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