How Mastery Can Make You Irreplaceable

Tech talent awards

The search for talent is one of the top challenges facing the Valley’s burgeoning tech community. In this episode of TechTalent, guest Greg Head, CEO of Greg Head Consulting and founder of Gregslist, talks about what truly makes for a rockstar employee in the tech world and where up-and-coming tech talent should focus their attention.

What qualities should top tech talent possess?

One trait is the mastery of their specialty. There’s a lot of people who say they do the roles, but aren’t really intensely focused on mastering those things. You’ve got to be able to figure it out at a very high level. The other thing I look for is people who admit they don’t know something but who learn really fast. If you give someone an idea or homework, and they never circle back or figure it out, or they keep asking the same questions –– that’s going to be slow going. The most talented folks are the ones who dedicate themselves to learning something and keep coming back for more, but at a higher level.

Is there an employee you can think of in your past that really stood out? If so, why?

Everybody starts off at the bottom, but people can move up really fast. Lindsay Bayuk, who I worked with at Infusionsoft, is now the VP of Product Marketing of Pluralsight, a $100M company in Utah. I knew her seven years ago when she was a student at ASU and was asking how to start a company and what things she needed to do to get there. She was really savvy and intensely interested in it. So, she went from being a college student to a VP at a $100M company in seven years. It was more about her tenaciousness and her attitude and approach to it than any innate thoughts. She’s smart, but there’s a lot of smart people out there that haven’t done what she’s done. People can really move fast if they go for it.

What roles do local tech companies have the toughest time filling?

Senior talented engineers to make their software –– that’s the brutal fight, to find those people and then have to compete with others who are trying to take them. Leadership roles are also in demand. Companies might need someone to be their first sales manager, which is very different than being a VP of sales with 15 people under them.

If you were mentoring a group of tech up-and-comers, what’s one thing you’d want them to know?

There are serious problems and opportunities all over the place. Focus on finding problems in the world that haven’t been solved yet that you care about. Get in and start helping them. Don’t worry about jobs, politics, salaries –– the games. Just worry about solving the actual problem.

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