Posted by randfish

Some people just "get" the web. I don’t know how to explain this phenomenon effectively or convey a reasonable set of criteria upon which a person could be judged, but there’s no doubt about it. I think back to the first time I heard Greg Boser or Jessie Stricchiola speak at a conference, the first few blog posts I read at MindValleyLabs, the SEOmoz comments I read from Shor, the first time I talked in depth about the business of being online with my friend (and now colleague) Nick Gerner and the first time I met Kelly Smith from Curious Office. Every experience had that same "click" in my head that went something like "hey this person’s pretty smart, they really seem to know their…. Oh My God…. They actually get ‘it.’"

I spoke with a fellow Seattle startup CEO about this subject just the other day, and he noted that he tries to spend 75% of his time or more coaching his best people, his "it getters," because this produces the highest ROI for the company in the long run. I’ve heard similar advice from a lot of management coaching books and articles – invest in the best people you can get and they’ll drive the business to do incredible work.

From my experience, it seems that the "it getter" scale looks something like this:

Scale of It-Getting

In great organizations, it seems to me that there’s at least one, and on rare occassion two or three true "it-getters." At amazing companies, during amazing times (like Google over the last 10 years or Microsoft in the ’80’s and ’90’s), I’d posit that there might actually be more. Companies filled with "it-getters" are magnets for other "it-getters."

The problem is, companies get big, add staff and eventually, the hiring gets a bit sloppy. Thus, you can accidentally add lots of "doesn’t get it" and "causes others to lose it" to your organization, sucking away the ability of others to produce more amazing times.

I’d say this all seems pretty basic and intuitive to most entrepreneurs and even most people who are aware of their work environments. Unless you’re on the bottom rungs of my scale, you can probably ID most everyone on this scale fairly accurately. Except… Some people get "it" when it comes to certain topics, but not others. I’ll use myself as an example. I think that generally, I get "it" when "it" is SEO. But I don’t get PPC, I don’t get landing page optimization, I don’t get personas or display advertising. I might not even get management – I’m probably in the "sorta" or "mostly" gets it barrel there.

So let me propose a short, and extremely simple set of recommendations for anyone running a company, starting a company, managing a team or planning their professional life:

  1. Discover what "it" is that you get.
  2. Apply yourself ruthlessly to "it"
  3. Become competent at identifying "it" getters in your areas of weakness
  4. Surround yourself with them

I’d venture to guess that this "simple" process is something very few organizations of any kind and very few people ever get right.

Close your eyes and think of the best meal you’ve ever had – the one where every piece of every dish sung with flavor and texture. It was probably prepared by an "it" getter. Now consider all the devices you use in your life – your chair, your phone, your laptop, your TV, a set of headphones, a car. That very best one – the one where everything works intuitively and harmoniously to make using it so simple and pleasurable that you recoil at the thought of any substitute – designed by "it" getters.

I’m not saying that competent people can’t do good work. I just have this nagging feeling that when the stars align and every piece comes together just right, it’s because the people behind it are doing something they "get."

Sorry for getting off the SEO track this week – I’ll redirect my writing back to those topics soon 🙂

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