Why I Only Hire "Full Stack People"

Why I Only Hire "Full Stack People"


The difference between "exceptional people" and "good people" isn't incremental, it's exponential.

Exceptional people are 10x better than good people. They produce 10x the output.

Our social and education systems mislead us on this fact. We think an "A" is only 1-step above "B" and exceptional is only 1-step above good. This is dead wrong.

Why are exceptional people 10x better than good?

It's because they're good at a broad range of things, they're generalists with wide and deep worldly wisdom and extreme talent on something specific.

Google calls this "t-shaped people", we call them "full stack people". And...

Once you discover this kind of person, you will never hire a normal person ever again.

Today's video shows you how to become one of these people, identify them, hire them and train them so you can build an army and win.

Here's what we cover:

1. How we hire talented people at our company by looking for "full stack people".

2. What "full stack people" are and why they produce 10x the output of a good person.

3. Why you should never hire people with narrow ranges of knowledge and skill.

4. Why good marketers are good at: Copywriting, photoshop, photos, psychology, art, english, statistics, conversion rates, accounting, finance, tracking, funnels, technology, attribution modeling, user experience and more.

5. Why all successful people throughout history have been full stack regardless of their field.

6. Why communication is inefficient and a warning sign that you have a dysfunctional company/team. 

7. Why radical transparency and full stack people don't need to communicate and get things done at a blistering pace.

Check out the video and let me know what you think in the comments below?

To Your Success!

Sam Ovens & the team at

Transcript / MP3

Hey everyone, Sam Ovens here, and today I want to tell you about how we hire people for our company. So when it comes to hiring, we look for something that we call full stack people. So you're probably thinking full stack people, what does that mean, who are they and why? Right? Well the reason why we hire full stack people is we want people that are good at a range of different things. So they're generalists. They have a base of generalism, which means that they know a lot about a lot of topics. They have good worldly wisdom and they know a lot of things like a bit about marketing, a bit about social media, a bit about the Internet, a bit about software, and also a bit about accounting or finance or numbers and statistics. They also know a bit about psychology and they're well read, they read lots of books, and they know a lot about a lot of things. Why we hire people that have this good broad general knowledge, which is what we call full stack people, is because I'm sure you've noticed this yourself. When you hire people who are just specialists, like they only do this one narrow thing, then nothing really gets done. Like you imagine you as an entrepreneur, if you only knew how to do sales, right? Let's say you're very good at sales calls, but nothing else. Well, how would you start a business? You'd go to your laptop and you'd be like, how do I do anything? I know how to do sales calls, but I don't know what my business is. I don't know what my product or service is. I don't know how to come up with a product or service. I don't know how to run a business, and I don't know how to generate any sales calls or do any marketing. So you're stuck. You go to your computer and you're just completely screwed. All right? Well, the same is true when you hire people like this. If they only know how to do one very narrow, rigid thing, then they're going to get stuck. That's probably the main problem with people who are just good at one thing, is that they really can't do anything because there's no such thing as really only doing one thing. You need to be able to do a range of different things. The other problem with people who only know a narrow field is that they're just like, "Oh, that's not my responsibility." You know? They're like, "That's not what I do." So someone might be good at one particular thing, and then something pops up where they need to do something else and they're just like, "Oh, that's not my responsibility. That wasn't in my job description." That's something to watch out for. If someone ever says that, that's a warning sign. It wasn't in my job description. Make a note of everyone who ever says that to you and watch them because that's a warning sign, right? Someone who is a full stack person would never say something like that, and what they actually do is they seek to understand the entire business. A full stack person is never satisfied. They're always curious, and they're trying to understand everything. They want to know how support works. They want to know how the financial part works. They want to know how the product works. They want to use the product, they want to go through it and play with it, and they ask why so many times that people want to kill them. Right? They're just like, "Why? Why, why, why, why, why?" They're asking why, they're talking to everyone, they're trying to understand everything, because full stack people, they are very good at seeing the big picture and the detail and every single layer in between. It's only when you can understand the big picture and the detail that you know how your piece interconnects with the greater whole, and these are the best people to hire because if someone is really good at marketing, they're not going to be just good at marketing, they're going to be good at sales, they're going to be good at accounting and finance too. They're also going to be good at advertising, psychology. They're probably going to know a little bit about Photoshop and what makes an image appealing. They should even have a little bit of an artistic flair to them, and they should also be very good at numbers and statistics and all of this, and they should also be very scientific, and they should also know a bit about technology and landing page conversion rates and all of this. They should also know about marketing automation. They should know about copywriting and how to write good emails. They should know about tracking and attribution modeling, right? This is what makes a good marketer. This is why we want full stack people, because if someone's just good ... Another thing that I see is if someone's just good at Facebook ads, running Facebook ads, then you're screwed because to run Facebook ads is one thing, but to create an ad from scratch, to find a good image, to test everything, that's another, but then it's also interconnected to the landing pages and the funnel and the product and the conversion process and the tracking and the overall statistics and numbers and KPIs that drive the whole machine. So a good Facebook advertiser is good at landing pages, conversion rates, statistics. They're good at attribution modeling. They're are also good at finance. They understand accrual accounting, cash accounting. They know the difference between cash and revenue. They know how accounts receivable works. They know how to allocate an allowance for doubtful debts. They're good financial thinkers, and they're also good artistic and creative thinkers, so they know how to make things different, push boundaries, push buttons, break the rules, and they're also good copywriters so they're good at English and all of this stuff, and also they're good at psychology, so they can get inside the mind of the person they're talking to and they know what buttons to push, and they're good at conversion rates, split testing, and they will also see how the product and the funnel and all of this affects the results that they are able to achieve on Facebook. They care about those things so much that they go out and they try to learn these things and they talk to these people over here. So this is a full stack person, and I got this term full stack from the engineering world, so like computer developers, right? So in the developer world, there's this term called a full stack developer or full stack engineer, and what it basically means is that they can code the full stack because in development, software development, there's people who can spin up servers and networks and all of that, and then there's people who can set up databases and basically good architects, and they can create the data modeling and the structure and all of that. Then there's people who can code back end engineering in different languages, and then these people who can do the front end, which is like the thing that you see, the UI, and they can code that up too, and then they got to know about scripts and things like that, right? There's all of these N-API and all of these things. There's all of these different things. And if you try to ever build a software product or anything with an engineer who can only do one of those things, you're screwed because you're going to need like six engineers to do something, but if you have what's called a full stack engineer, they can do it all, all by themselves. What's crazy is that when you have a full stack engineer, they are actually about 10 ... A good one will be 10 times faster and produce 10 times more work and output than a normal engineer. So there's a 10 times difference. If you had 40 good full stack engineers, that would be the equivalent of 400. You're probably thinking, how is it so much faster? Well, when somebody can do the full stack, they don't have to stop working and then try to tell this other person what they want, get that person to understand what they want, then get that person to do the work, come back to them, make sure it's good, probably make some changes, make some changes, make some changes, and then it's good to go to the next step. Then they've got to go and brief this other person, tell them what they want, get them to understand it. That other person does the work. Then it comes back, a couple of changes, right? You can see how this process, most of it isn't actually work. It's handing something off to somebody else and then getting it back from somebody else and then handing it off to somebody else again, and you want to watch out for this thing. Whenever work is not being done and it's being transported to another person or being ... If someone's waiting for something to come back, that is waste. That is what kills productivity, and that is what kills performance and everything. It's basically work that is being handed off to somebody else. When you have a full stack engineer, they can just do the whole thing, and they just go ... They only have to go back and forth in their minds. They don't have to talk to other people. And I see this a lot. A lot of people say that ... I see people, and this has happened with us too at, my company. Sometimes people think, oh, we have a communication issue. Like, oh, our team needs to hold more meetings or our team needs to communicate better with each other, and this team should tell this team, but most of the time when I really dig into it, it's not a communication issue. It's just that that person should like ... Let me give you an example, because it's hard to understand if I just speak like this. My team was saying we've got a communication issue and I said, "What happened? I'm not going to accept we've got a communication issue." I was like, "Why? Tell me what happened." And what had happened is marketing had sent out an email and this promotion, and then a support started to get emails from people who had received this promotion and they were asking different questions about it and how it worked and things like that, and support didn't understand how it worked or how to respond to these questions. So they thought that marketing didn't communicate well with support, and they thought we had a communication issue, but really, that's not a communication issue. Really, that is like an intelligence issue. The support team should have been able to figure that one out on their own without needing to talk to marketing. So what they could have done is, if they were fully well-trained, full stack people, is they could have gone, "All right, so marketing must've sent out an email campaign with this particular thing. Now, how can I find this email campaign? Well, it's going to be the email that people are replying to in the support inbox. Easy to find. All right, what's in this email?" Read the email. "Ah, okay, it's this offer and it does that. Oh, I wonder how this works. Well, instead of asking marketing, why don't I just try opting in for this particular offer myself, and just reading about it and testing out how it works." Click on the button. "Ah, this is how it works ... Try it out yourself. All right, got it. Now I understand. Now I can solve this problem, and now I can create a quick help document to help everyone else in my support team solve this problem because they're probably going to run into the issue that I just ran into." So create the help document and then message on Slack everyone else in the support team, "Hey, heads up support team. Marketing just sent this thing out yesterday. This is what it does. Here's how it works. Here's how to solve these sorts of responses." Bam, done. All right? That is a full stack person. We had that exact thing occur in my business, and you've got to be careful of this thing. As a CEO or a manager or any leader of a team, you've got to really look at what's going on. And what I've found is that communication is often not necessary, because if you've got good transparency, if everyone can see what's going on in the business and you don't have siloed information and things like that, then everyone should really be able to get the answers they need themselves, and if they've trained to think for themselves and they're full stack people, they should be able to figure everything out on their own from the information they've got access to, and then they shouldn't need to go and ask the other person. Because the moment they go to ask the other person, they stop working, and then asking them is stopping the other person from working, and then they have to understand each other, which takes some time, and then that person has to explain it to them, and then there's a period in there where two people aren't working, or God forbid if the whole team stops and the other whole team stops, and then they decided to schedule a meeting. Like, meetings are dangerous, too. Watch out for meetings. Then now we've got two whole teams stopped sitting in a meeting room, right? That is bad. You don't want that sort of stuff going on. So really you should watch out for meetings, watch out for phone calls, and watch out for anyone that says communication issues. Don't get me wrong, sometimes there can be communication issues, but what I've found is that the best remedy to communication is transparency. Like in my company, every single person at every level, just everyone can see all of our sales. They can see how much money we're making, how many sales we made right now, real time. They can see everything. They can see all of our customers, all of our products, everything. We have it fully transparent and open, and we even make our P&L, our profit and loss statement, and our balance sheet all transparent and open. So every single thing that I have access to, my team has access to. Obviously if there's like private matters about an individual, that will be private, right? But everything else is transparent. Even our performance reviews are transparent. Everything is transparent. And because it's that way, it's easy for the team to understand, what are we doing and how am I impacting the whole, and it's very easy to understand what's going on and what other people are doing and how they are impacting the whole. It's, most of the time, they don't need to go and ask other people or have meetings or things like this because they can just see it themselves. So we've gotten a little bit on a tangent here, but it all comes back to the same thing really, is you want to hire full stack people. What I mean by that is that they're good at a range of different things, they've got good worldly wisdom. Now you might be thinking, Sam, this is kind of different because you preach about being a specialist, and why are you talking about being a generalist? Well, being a specialist is important, but it has to be built on top of a foundation of general knowledge. Right? And Google knows this, too. We call them full stack people, but Google calls them T-shaped people, T. And why they call them T-shaped people is they've got good broad base knowledge. They're very good at a range of things. They understand how the world works and all of this. And then they're very, very good at something specific. So with a full stack engineer, they can code the whole stack, front end to back end, server config and everything, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're average at all of that. They probably average at all of it, and then very good at one specific thing like front end. Now that person, most of their work's going to be front end, probably 80% is going to be coding front end, but that 20% that isn't, instead of them having to be like, "Oh, this isn't what I do, this isn't in my job description," they just do it. They figure it out. They get it done. This is why you want to hire these people. Google calls them T-shaped people. We call them full stack people. These people literally are ... They're the equivalent of 10 normal people. No exaggeration, 10. Like if you have 40 full stack people, you have the manpower of a company that has 400, no exaggeration at all. So you want to make it ... If you're just starting out in business, if you're an entrepreneur and you haven't started yet, or if you want to be an entrepreneur and you haven't started yet, or if you're just running a one man or one woman business, then really what you want to do first and foremost is become a full stack person yourself. I see this happen to entrepreneurs all the time. They might think that they're above doing sales, or they're above doing ads or marketing or any of this, or they're above creating a video, or they're above doing all of this stuff, right? Or they don't know how to do marketing ... I mean, so they don't know how to do accounting because they don't know that, so they just want to get an accountant to do that. Now these people really aren't successful, I've noticed. They aren't successful really ever. And I've looked through history like crazy, and I've seen that in every case, pretty much the most successful people in the world, they're full stack. Like Leonardo da Vinci was a full stack artist. He was an engineer, he was also an artist. He was also a chemist, and he wanted to learn chemistry just so he could mix the pigments for his paints and get his paint right. He also studied optics, how the eye works and all of this stuff. He also studied light and reflections and all of this. He also studied geometry, studied mathematics, and he even studied human anatomy. He even dissected dead humans to understand the bone structure, skeletal structure, the muscles and all of that just so he could create better detailed paintings. He mastered all of that just so he could be an amazing painter, and it worked. He was able to do things that other painters couldn't because he had better worldly wisdom at the base. He was probably T-shaped, like he was an amazing painter, but he knew a lot about a lot of things and that enabled him to go really far on the painting. You see this with musicians too. Like just last night I was watching a documentary called The Defiant Ones. If you haven't seen it, go and watch it right now, The Defiant Ones. Probably the best documentary I've seen, and it's about Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine and how they went from nothing to basically starting the world's most famous record label, signing pretty much all of the major hits from like the '90s and into the 2000s, and then creating Beats by Dre and then selling it to Apple for like $3.3 billion. Right? Pretty impressive. And this documentary covers their entire story. What's fascinating is Jimmy Iovine, he started out as just a guy sweeping the floors in a recording studio. So he knew the recording studio from sweeping the floors, and then he started just by being like an assistant in the recording studio, just pressing like, play, pause, stop, all of this. Then he learned how to become an audio engineer and mix and do all of this, and learned from other people. Then he learned how to do the producing, and then he learned how to basically manage an artist, publish an artist, all of this. Then he, once he got really good at that, he started producing hits for major artists and everyone wanted to work with him, and then he started switching to the business side and learning the ins and outs of making money when it comes to producing music. Then he mastered that whole side. He knew how to market things. He knew how to sell things. He knew about legals and contracts. He knew about accounting. He knew about technology because as soon as Napster came out and then people were streaming music and the CD business died, he had to go and learn all of that. He was a true full stack person and that's what made him so successful. He wasn't just an audio engineer. He wasn't just a producer. He wasn't just a businessman. He was all of these things. And also, Dr. Dre. Dr. Dre, he was like ... First of all, he was a rapper and an MC. He mixed his own stuff, and then he started producing his own stuff, so he learned how to record. He learned how to adjust all of the audio levels and all of that and produce really good sounding music, and then he worked with other artists and he knew how to produce them. Then, like when he brought his CD to Jimmy Iovine when he was still in the music business himself, Jimmy was like, "Dre, who mixed this thing? Who produced this," because it sounded so amazing. And he was like, "Oh, I did it," and he was like, "Wait a minute. You came up with the concept for these songs. You wrote the songs and all of lyrics. You created all of the sound in this whole song. Then you produced the whole thing. Then you did the artwork for the whole thing, and then you put together the entire thing, packaged it up, and got it ready for sale, and even produced the marketing angles for it?" And he was like, "Yeah," and that's when he knew that he was going to hire him. What's fascinating is when they look at all of these different artists, like Gwen Stefani and Eminem and all of these different ones which they signed, they were all really full stack people. They would create their own outfits, and this is true with Michael Jackson too. Michael Jackson would write his own lyrics, make his own songs, the sounds and everything in it. He would also create his own dance moves and practice that, and he would perform himself. He would create his own costumes, the lighting, and everything. He would do the entire thing, and because he could control all of these variables, he could produce something exactly the way he wanted it. He didn't have to have these different parties all involved producing an inconsistent experience. Steve Jobs was full stack too. He learned about the hardware side, the software side, and he owned it the whole way through. He just didn't want to produce an operating system and then have it on someone else's computer. He wanted to produce the operating system and the hardware and the software, just everything end to end so he could control the full experience and have it as perfect as he wanted it. So if you look ... And we could look into sports too. Michael Jordan. All right? When Michael Jordan was playing basketball, most NBA players have a specialty that they just stick to and are kind of rigid with. They might be just real good at playing defense. They might be real good at shooting three pointers, or some of them might be real good at a just like scoring points. Right? They might be good at these different things, but Michael Jordan mastered it all. He was good at everything. So he could play defense. He could shoot three pointers. He could score lots of points. He could do it all, and not just at an average level. He was probably better than everyone else at everything. Now, he was T-shaped in that he was really good at hitting points just constantly and being like ... like attacking all the time. That was probably where he was extremely good, but he was definitely T-shaped. And so no matter where you look in the world, no matter what era of time you observe, you'll notice that the people who do really well, the people who are successful ... And this, it doesn't matter if this is business, it doesn't matter if this is like software technology, it could ... It doesn't matter if this is even health, like personal trainers, the ones that are really good, they learn about nutrition. They learn about sleep. They learn about psychology and how all of these things interconnect, right? It doesn't matter what ... Like even if you're an artist or a musician, doesn't matter what you are doing, you want to become full stack or T-shaped, whatever one you want to call it, because that's when you can really start doing things fast and that's when you can really start becoming the best. I think back in my business career, which is ... I've been in business for like seven years now, I think. It seems like quite a long time. But when I first got started, I couldn't really get much traction or momentum or anything, mostly because I didn't know what to do. I'd start doing my thing and then get to this point and get stuck because I didn't know how to do it. Until I really mastered the full stack, I didn't really start making big progress because I had to learn how to sell. I had to learn how to market and do copyrighting and advertising and PPC ads and all of that. Then I had to learn how to do accounting. I didn't pay any attention in accounting at school. I failed it, so I had to go and learn all of that. I had to learn taxes. I had to learn international markets. I had to learn corporate structuring. I had to learn copywriting. Then I had to get into psychology to understand and get inside other people's heads, and then I had to really master myself because I had noticed that I was coming up against all of these barriers and boundaries and I had emotions and different states which I couldn't really control that were affecting my work output, and so I had to learn how to deal with all of that. It's quite fascinating to think about because as soon as I became full stack and I could do legal stuff, accounting stuff, statistics and numbers, PPC ads, marketing, sales, products development, and technology. As soon as I could do all of that, I just started flying because I didn't have to stop, brief someone else, wait for them to come back to me. I could just go ... and just get it all done and move really fast. So if you're just getting started in business, make it your objective to become full stack. If you run into something that you don't understand yourself, don't think, "Oh, I'm just going to get like a contract or I'm just going to give this to someone else because this isn't my responsibility." Learn it yourself. I'm not saying don't hire people or don't use contractors because that's dumb. You want to delegate things. But the thing is, you want to understand them too, because if you're just delegating something to somebody else, like an employee or a contractor or something, and you don't understand it, you don't know how to brief it to them, you don't know how to judge their performance of it, and you don't know anything, so you're really in trouble. So even if you are using other people, you need to understand how it all works. If you're a business owner or an entrepreneur or CEO that already has a team or is looking to hire a team, make it your duty to only hire full stack people. Now, you're probably thinking, "Well, how do I know someone's a full stack person?" Honestly, like if you get resumes or you're looking at people's histories or something ... This is before a phone interview or an in-person interview ... just look for interesting combinations of work history and life, because if someone's just rigidly done the same thing for a whole time, they probably don't have that much worldly wisdom, knowledge, or things like that. But if somebody has quite an interesting history and past, then they probably are full stack. Then the only way to truly know is during the interview, and what I like to do in the interviews is totally counterintuitive, but I just like to ask questions about all sorts of things. Just weird things, and I don't ... Like I change the topic from this to that. I might go over to discussing government systems, something that happened a hundred years ago, history. Maybe I'll even ping it over to world views, religion and conflicts, and things like this. Then I'll bring it to finance, accounting. Then I might ask some numbers questions. Then I might bring it into marketing, technology, then different companies and how they think that these companies have an edge while these other ones don't, what mistakes different people are making, what they think is going on in the world that's blatantly wrong that people all believe but they think they're all wrong. All sorts of just weird different things because if a person can answer all of those questions and ... It really tells me and it shows me that they're good observers, you know? They don't just sit in this world with glazed over eyes, just thinking ... They're not really even thinking right? Because if someone's going to be alive in this world, you're going to see a lot of shit, you're going to notice a lot of things going on, and you want to ask yourself, "Hey, what did that thing happen or why is that the way it is?" People who are curious about these things, observe these things and then they can't live without knowing why, these are full stack people. And this is how you can really find them, by just drilling them in interviews about all sorts of stuff because if they're able to answer it, then it shows you that this is a good observer of the world around them, and that they're curious and want to find out why, and people who want to find out why and are always curious and self-teach themselves and never think they're done, these are the people you want to hire, and if you are an entrepreneur and you're not ready to hire people yet, this is who you want to become. All right? So that's my advice for you today. If you're getting started, become full stack. Or it doesn't matter what you're in, become full stack. If you're an employee at a job, become full stack. I'm still helping all of my people in my company become full stack. I'm asking them what they would like to learn, what would give them an edge, and then I'm giving them good books I know on it, getting them to read those books, and really pushing everyone to become full stack so that they're really, really good at knowing what's going on. Also put transparency into your business. Don't be one of those businesses where the CEO is the only person who really knows what's going on and these other people are pretty much just blind because your business is going to die if you do that. And also don't be one of these businesses that is constantly meeting and talking and not doing, because doing is the only thing that gets things done, and you want to make sure that ... Really, I believe communication is inefficient. Everyone should be able to find what they want by transparency so that they don't need to ask and they don't need to communicate. You want to grow an organization like this if you want to win. The cool part is, is that it's way nicer to run one of these businesses because you don't always have to talk to everyone and communicate with everyone because they're able to find the answers all on their own. So that's it for this video today. What I want you to do is if you liked this video, just click that like button, and also leave me something in the comments section below. If you have any questions about what I've said today, just let me know in those questions, or if you've got a recommendation for a video you'd like me to shoot, just let me know in that comment box below. I'm going to be checking and reading them myself personally. Also, if you like my video content, just click that subscribe button, the YouTube subscribe, because I release one of these videos every week, and also customer interviews and other things like that. So that's it for this week's video. Thanks for watching, and I will see you in the next one soon.