Talking Talent With 4 Successful Silicon Valley CEOs

Talking Talent With 4 Successful Silicon Valley CEOs

Fred Toney (Launchpad Digital Health), Geoff Zawolkow (Lab Sensor Solutions), Mihir Shah (Drobo) and Sam Parr (The Hustle)

Talking Talent was a Drobo sponsored educational and networking event in San Francisco, California on December 7th, 2016.
What is the CEO really thinking? We uncovered how 4 successful Silicon Valley startup CEOs hire and manage different generations of individuals in the workplace at Talking Talent.


8 Key Takeaways From the Event:


1) Talent is Not Enough

It all begins with the hiring process; companies interview multiple talented individuals, but what makes you unique? The CEOs agree experience is important, but attitude and passion are indispensable. They want to see your desire to learn and the ability to be a “team player”.
“We look for someone who may not have a lot of hard skills yet, but is young, can hold a conversation with me and have me on the edge of my seat,” CEO of The Hustle, Sam Parr, said.

2) Stepping up the Game for Millennials

Millennials are changing work culture by verbalizing their expectations. In result, CEOs are stepping up their game in order to compete with the other companies to bring talent in the door. “They work at a fast pace and they are enthusiastic,” CEO of Launchpad Digital Health, Fred Toney, said. “They have new ideas and work with collaboration. They are working that speed; I think that energy is what companies need… They are huge contributors to what’s here in the Silicon Valley.”

3) Is the Semi-Annual Review Dead?

Transparency has replaced the semi-annual review. Whether it be positive or negative feedback to your employees, it’s important to know what is working and vice versa with constant communication. Sam Parr communicates to his employees by handing out High Fives on Slack. Not only does this allow him to show appreciation for their work, it also provides an efficient means of communication within his company. CEO of Drobo, Mihir Shah, implemented a weekly Transparency Tuesday, during which he sits with the company to review sales numbers, marketing events, and engineering updates for the week. This orients the team to present business conditions, in addition to providing a platform for future growth.

4) Work Culture vs. Flexibility

Flexibility over stability is becoming ever the more desired by job-seekers. Even if the job is temporary, they want the ability to work non-traditional hours. However, the CEOs foresee concern with this freedom. A little flexibility is decreed as OK, as long as the job is done. So what’s the problem? Managers want employees to be invested and passionate about their company. Temporary employees may not share this sentiment as wholeheartedly. Since work culture plays a crucial role in the expansion of a company, remote and contractor employees won’t grow with the company in its changing environment. “The key is trying to pull them (contractor workers) into a work culture that you are building with your vision,” Fred Toney said. Another CEO emphasized the importance of communicating to the team that it’s not just the success of the executives when the company is doing well, but the success of every individual worker. “It’s important for everybody to understand it’s their success, not just mine,” CEO of Lab Sensor Solutions, Geoff Zawolkow, said.

5) Work-Life Balance

Do CEOs have downtime? CEOs work hard and long hours. Many of them admit that much of their time out-of-office is spent on work-related activities. Fred Toney believes it’s important to have a hobby that is separate from work and business, that will ultimately foster innovation. “The most creative people spend time doing something else with their mind,” Toney said.

6) Does Unlimited Vacation Mean no Vacation?

Silicon Valley startups are offering unlimited vacation as a perk, but is this too good to be true? In many cases this policy has led to no vacation-because nobody takes time off. However, the flexibility in the work schedule can add to a balanced lifestyle among employees. Opinion on this highly debated matter remains split by CEOs. In conclusion, some leaders believe it’s good to have set time away from work, yet others regard that their employees will know when to take a break from work.

7) Are Meetings Useless?

The CEOs unanimously agree that traditional long meetings are unproductive; they waste time and delay project deadlines. Meetings are handy for coordinating tasks and exchanging feedback, however, should be limited to under 30 minutes.

8) What are Key Skills for the Next Generation?

The CEOs provided insight into what will be the most vital skills for the next generation of techies. CEOs concurred on skills including employing effective communication whether in person or through email, thinking critically about complex situations, and utilizing the power of written word. The ability to persuade consumers is important for bringing your vision to life. Gaining an insight of what Silicon Valley CEOs are looking for is crucial step for being a successful asset to a company.   About Drobo’s Work Culture: Drobo was featured in “The Top 10 Silicon Valley Companies You Wish You Worked For (or Started)” by WIRED Magazine. Drobo’s work culture is unique because the team revolves around core key values of working with passion, pride, confidence, family spirit, and customer centricity. Welcome to the World of Drobo.

By Alex Herbert

Alex designs and coordinates social media campaigns and events for Drobo. She has a Journalism degree with an emphasis in Strategic Communications from the University of Nevada, Reno.

    Watch the Live Stream of Talking Talent!