6 Hiring Lessons from Vince Lombardi

The following guest post is from Dan Monarko, Online Marketing Manager at The Resumator, a SaaS applicant tracking system and hiring platform trusted by many of the fastest-growing companies in the world, including: Pinterest, Tumblr, Hootsuite, Klout, Posterous, Bitly, Atari and Mashable. I am a Board Member and an investor in The Resumator via Rincon Venture Partners.

Vince Lombardi is widely considered the best football coach of all time, and ultimately may be the greatest coach in the history of all sports. He is widely accredited for his success because of his ability to inspire and motivate players, however that is only part of the story.

Vince Lombardi was a truly great entrepreneurial leader. He was successful because of his ability to find players that had the passion and desire to win, which inevitably made his job easier. How can today’s entrepreneurs leverage the teachings of Vince Lombardi to identify talent that will drive the company to success?


“The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.”

It’s not just about hiring brilliant people – it’s about building a brilliant team. Hire applicants that show a desire to be a part of something truly special — to do their best work for the team — not just collect a paycheck. Coach Lombardi put teamwork first (which is why we did, too). As probably the most famous football coach of all time, it seems to have worked.

Tip: Pay attention to folks who are used to working as a part of high-performance teams. Veterans, college athletes, and people who donate their time to good causes are all experts at thinking about what it takes to make the organization succeed.


“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

Hiring someone who is short on commitment can be a tremendous weight to carry around. But it goes beyond looking for dedication to your mission. You have to create an environment that encourages, facilitates, and rewards real commitment.

Build commitment into your culture with small prizes and rewards for people who go above and beyond on special projects. Let your team know you’ll take great care of them if they help you achieve success.

You’re very much in this together; work to make commitment infectious in your organization by articulating your mission and keeping everyone motivated in pursuit of it.


“Success is like anything worthwhile. It has a price. You have to pay the price to win and you have to pay the price to get to the point where success is possible. Most important, you must pay the price to stay there.”

Life on a demanding team sometimes requires sacrifices, whether that means late nights, working on a weekend, or going the extra mile when it really counts. Employees that are committed to your companies vision understand and embrace these occasional sacrifices because they believe in the work they’re doing. It’s the root of real achievement.

Again, work hard to make it easy for them. Be upfront with candidates in the interview process on what a typical day/week/month is like at your company. Make sure they are aware what they are signing up for, and okay with a little extra legwork in exchange for rewards later on.

Will to Win

“The spirit, the will to win and the will to excel – these are the things that endure and these are the qualities that are so much more important than any of the events that occasion them.” 

You simply cannot teach competitiveness; people either have it or they don’t.  Hire people that refuse to lose and have the competitive drive that is essential in achieving greatness. Competition makes everyone better; it makes people think of new solutions to problems, new ways to innovate, and new ways to succeed.

Healthy pressure is an amazing tool for a young team — just make sure you never push to far. Guide your team to greatness, don’t shove them there. Set goals that represent amazing accomplishments, and work to help your team achieve them every step of the way.

Tip: Ask interviewees when’s the last time they won something, if they have that competitive spirit they will be able to quickly answer with a confident smile.


“Some of us will do our jobs well and some will not, but we will all be judged on one thing: the result.”

At the end of the day on a fast-growing team, only one thing matters…. the results. Will-to-win doesn’t always translate into results; it takes aspiration to make the last jump. Do your candidates truly strive for greatness and success in their work?

Do you think they’ll let you leave the office with a smile…knowing they’re kicking butt every day? Look for specific evidence of past successes when they’ve been in the driver’s seat. Hire people who get things done.

Contact Dan at dmonarko@theresumator.com or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/dmonarko


John Greathouse

John Greathouse is a Partner at Rincon Venture Partners, a venture capital firm investing in early stage, web-based businesses. Previously, John co-founded RevUpNet, a performance-based online marketing agency sold to Coull. During the prior twenty years, he held senior executive positions with several successful startups, spearheading transactions that generated more than $350 million of shareholder value, including an IPO and a multi-hundred-million-dollar acquisition.

John is a CPA and holds an M.B.A. from the Wharton School. He is a member of the University of California at Santa Barbara’s Faculty where he teaches several entrepreneurial courses.

Note: All of my advice in this blog is that of a layman. I am not a lawyer and I never played one on TV. You should always assess the veracity of any third-party advice that might have far-reaching implications (be it legal, accounting, personnel, tax or otherwise) with your trusted professional of choice.

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