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Matt Douglas, Founder and CEO of Punchbowl.com

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Do You Have Start-up Hunger?

There are two types of people in a start-up: those who have the hunger, and those who don’t. If you’re working at a start-up and not sure if you are hungry, perhaps this article can help.

Those who have the hunger instinctually act in a certain way. They want to succeed, push through adversity, and don’t take ‘no’ for an answer easily. These are the people that founders and CEOs feel a natural connection, and they help build the culture of your start-up.

Those who don’t have the hunger treat their position as just another job. They check off the boxes, do acceptable work, and check-in and check-out. These are the people who don’t read blogs and books about their craft in their spare time and never go to industry events. They always have something else going on, and the signal they send to others is that they will do what’s expected of them, but nothing more. It’s not too hard to spot these people in your organization: they are the ones that never surprise or delight you with unexpected work.

Why are certain people hungry while others aren’t? In my experience, hungry people fall into one or more of the following categories:

Hungry because of their background
These people are hungry because they grew up in tough circumstances for one reason or another. They didn’t have lots of money and grew up with the passion and desire to build a better life than their parents had built for them. They envision a life where money isn’t a main source of stress for them or their family, and they strive to attain material things that they never had before. These types of people don’t know how to give up, and aren’t afraid of dealing with a lot of adversity to get what they want. They are innately hungry every day, and won’t rest until they achieve financial freedom.

Hungry because of their perfectionist tendencies
These people have a deep need for perfection. They revel in their obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and take great pride in their work. They are master craftsmen and women, and love the process of creating perfection as much as the finished project. The details matter: they re-visit the final product to see their work, and enjoy showing it off to others. When they work, they meticulously make progress. All of the while, they see areas for continuous improvement. They are hungry for perfection in all of its glory — and won’t rest because there is always room for improvement.

Hungry because they crave status
These people crave the limelight and status. They want to be known as the best in the business, and they work hard to make sure that people know it. They have 500+ LinkedIn followers, love the notoriety they get from industry events, and have hundreds of business cards sitting on their bookshelf from people they’ve met. These people write blogs and share tweets with thoughts they believe the world ought to hear. They love the recognition they get from their success.

What about the people that have ALL three of the above characteristics? They are called Founders.

Start-up founders love being surrounded by people who are hungry. Whether they are motivated by their upbringing, have innate perfectionist streaks, or just love the limelight, these are the people that make or break your start-up. Make sure you have a few on your core team, and cultivate the ones that have potential.

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©2019 Matt Douglas