How This Woman-Led Company's CEO Chooses Her Staff
Sufferfest beer company
Caitlin Landesberg is the founder and CEO of Sufferfest beer company.
Starting a company? You might need a drink. More importantly, though, you will need a strong staff in order to succeed.
Caitlin Landesberg is the founder and CEO of Sufferfest, which employs 17 individuals, including 4 part-time employees.
Landesberg dreamed up her functional beer to quench her thirst after running in San Francisco. She teamed up with an all-star brewmaster to perfect her recipes in 2015. The beverage assists with workout recovery, containing vitamins and micronutrients.
Sufferfest has 17 employees, 10 of which are female.
Before establishing her own company, Landesberg worked for Strava, an app that tracks workouts.
Throughout the years, Landesberg has recognized a few important points when it comes to hiring and retaining her employees. And judging by the brand's ability to flourish in a competitive, male-dominated market, she knows what she's doing.
Read on for the seven tips Landesberg uses while looking to hire new rockstar team members, help them flourish and keep them happy. (Including what brands should note about their own shortcomings.)
1. Hunger Over Experience Any Day: Enthusiasm and work ethic can be an incredible combination in a start up environment. "If someone has the can-do attitude to roll up their sleeves and wear 10 different hats in a given day, I want them," says Landesberg. "Too much experience too early can be expensive, bring bad habits, and leave a lasting impression on culture that may not actually reflect your core values. A little bit of experience with the right motivation is a gift that keeps on giving."
2. Embrace Your Unfair Advantage: When larger businesses are offering candidates more money, remind yourself what you value. "Find that like-minded diamond in the rough," says Landesberg. "The right person assigns real value to the right culture fit: flex time, limitless vacation policy, volunteer days, educational and athletic pursuit opportunities, and of course the opportunity to be one of the first at a burgeoning brand. Underscore the benefits and perks that impact real happiness, and you’ll be surprised what wins someone over."
3. Plant the Seed and Watch it Grow: Align the team with the same vision and the same message. "During the interview process, I like to feed the candidate key messages, company terms and soundbites, painting the vision for Sufferfest in all of its glory," says Landesberg. "A promising candidate gloms onto the messages and repeats them back in each interview, becoming well-versed and bought into our mission. If things go well, they’re selling us on the way out!"
4. Live the Brand. Truly: Be authentic! "I look for teammates who genuinely live a lifestyle that fits with our brand and office culture," says Landesberg. "For my team, we are rooted in a love for adventure, we embrace change, and we sincerely respect others. When we hire people whose values align with ours, they will be happier, are less likely to burn out, and will positively contribute to the workplace environment."
5. Check Your Own References: Do your homework and tap into your own network to learn more about the candidate. "Adding a new team member to a small team is a big deal," Landesberg. "Headcount is costly and each addition influences culture permanently. The benefit of this extra step is invaluable and usually results in me feeling even greater affirmation about the decision."
6. Meet Again Over a Meal, or at Least a Cold Beverage: A more casual setting as a follow up helps interviewers get a more accurate read on a potential teammate. "A meeting room is the best place to conduct a job interview," says Landesberg about calling back candidates for a second chat. "Are they able to move past the nerves and ideate on the fly? Can they be open about questions or concerns? Supporting a deeper connection during the interview process sets up both parties for long-term success."
7. Show You Care: Retaining important players is key. "A business is nothing without its people. Keeping your stars shining bright doesn’t always mean a pay increase," says Landesberg. "In fact, many studies show that the number one thing an employee desires is acknowledgment. Number two is to be heard. Routine reviews, handwritten thank you notes, gift certificates for a date night after a long road trip have all helped me show my team how important they are to a building a booming business. With so much effort spent on finding the right hire, losing good people becomes a very expensive prospect.
Hilary Sheinbaum , WOMEN@FORBES