If you hire salespeople who won’t sell, engineers who can’t code, and there’s no accountability structure in your organization, where do you expect to land as a company? Especially when funding markets are dry, and investors are tightly scrutinizing product and revenue milestones. Startup founders and CEOs need to foster a culture of action, ensuring every hire contributes actively to growth, backed by a balance of support and accountability, to turn vision into reality.

Like a few other million Hulu subscribers, I was recently watching “The Bear” with Jeremy Allen White. It’s a really great show, and if you’re looking for something to watch, I highly recommend it. But this isn’t a streaming show review, so I’ll get to the point. In one episode, Carmy, played by White, was sitting down with his primary investor, “Uncle Jimmy.”

He was already into him for a lot of money and asked for even more. He’s got a lot on the line as he marches towards the opening of his new restaurant. A chaotic staff, exploding renovation costs, an unfinished menu, and the emotional torment of losing his brother, who left him the restaurant when he died. But like all founders, he has a vision and a determination to see his idea come to life. So, as he was sitting and going over the mountains of debt and all the reasons it wouldn’t work, his “Uncle Jimmy” said, let me give you one piece of advice… “You have to care about everything, more than anything.” and that really got me thinking…

In the high-stakes arena of startups, the difference between success and failure often hinges on the dynamism and action-oriented nature of its leadership and team. The absolute mandate for startup CEOs is not just to dream but to do—to cultivate a bias towards action that permeates the entire organization. This philosophy extends to hiring practices, where the emphasis must be on securing individuals who are not just proficient in their roles but are also deeply committed to executing and delivering results. The cost of hiring engineers who can’t code and revenue people who won’t sell (for example) goes beyond monetary loss; it’s a critical blow to the momentum and spirit of a budding enterprise.

Startup culture thrives on agility, innovation, and execution. A structure of support within such an ecosystem is indeed commendable, but without a robust system of accountability, it risks becoming a breeding ground for complacency. Accountability is the linchpin that transforms good ideas into tangible results, ensuring that each team member not only understands their role but is also driven to fulfill it with urgency and precision. In the absence of this accountability, even the most promising startups are doomed to falter as swiftly as their ideas once seemed to promise revolution.

The recruitment landscape is littered with candidates who “look good on paper,” boasting impressive resumes laden with experience. However, experience without the will to act is akin to a vehicle without fuel—incapable of progression. Far too often, these individuals hide behind the veneer of busyness or fractional commitments, offering excuses rather than solutions. This is not just disappointing; it’s fundamentally opposed to the ethos of startup culture, which demands not only the capacity for hard work but an unwavering commitment to drive results. True talent, driven by the necessity of impact, finds a way to overcome obstacles and deliver efficiently, regardless of constraints.

In the embryonic stages of a startup, there is little room for those who position themselves solely as strategists or thinkers without the readiness to roll up their sleeves. The reality of startup growth is not just conceptual but deeply operational. Every strategy must be actionable, and every thought process must lead to tangible outcomes. CEOs and founders must, therefore adopt a discerning eye in their hiring practices, looking beyond the surface of qualifications to identify individuals who are genuinely motivated by the mission and capable of contributing to its advancement.

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Holding people accountable is not about fostering a culture of fear but about building one of empowerment and ownership. It’s about setting clear expectations, providing the necessary resources, and then trusting individuals to do what they were hired to do. However, when performance falls short, a CEO’s willingness to address issues directly and decisively becomes critical. This may involve difficult conversations or even parting ways with those who are unable to align with the organization’s pace and objectives.

The evaluation criteria for new hires must, therefore, evolve. It’s not enough to assess what someone has done in the past; CEOs must gauge what the individual will do—and, more importantly, what they are eager to do within the unique context of their startup. This perspective shift from potential to proven action orientation can significantly mitigate the risk of opportunity cost. In the dynamic startup environment, where every decision can pivot the future, the opportunity cost of inaction or misdirected action is astronomical. Investing in someone less experienced but more driven can yield far greater returns than sticking with a seasoned professional who lacks the necessary drive.

The sentiment “You have to care about everything, more than anything” encapsulates the essence of what startup culture and leadership should embody. It’s a call to action for CEOs and their teams to invest wholly in their venture’s success, treating every decision, no matter how minor, with the utmost importance. This holistic care extends beyond product development or market penetration; it encompasses the team’s well-being, the company culture, customer satisfaction, and the broader impact of the business on the world.

For founders, this means leading by example, demonstrating an unwavering commitment to the vision and a relentless pursuit of its realization. It involves creating an environment where action is celebrated, where every team member feels personally invested in the outcome, and where accountability is not just a buzzword but a foundation of the company’s culture.


In conclusion, the path to success is paved with action. Hiring must be approached with a bias towards individuals who not only have the necessary skills but also the intrinsic motivation and determination to apply them effectively. A support system without accountability is a recipe for stagnation; conversely, a culture that champions execution and responsibility is a blueprint for achievement. As startups navigate the turbulent waters of innovation and growth, the mantra must remain clear: prioritize action, demand results, and foster a team that is as passionate about realization as they are about ideation. The ultimate victory lies not just in what your startup aims to do but in what it actually accomplishes.

About the Author: Jeremy Mays

Is the Founder and CEO of Transmyt Marketing. He's an accomplished, award winning marketer, responsible for guiding companies though the complex challenges of navigating and succeeding in today's digital economy. To get in touch, you can email him at jeremy@transmyt.com

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