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rock stars take your act somewhere else January 29

rock stars take your act somewhere else January 29 -...

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January 29, 2011 Hey, Rock Stars: Take Your Show Someplace Else By ADAM BRYANT This interview with  Michael Lebowitz,  founder and C.E.O. of Big Spaceship, a digital marketing and communications  agency, was conducted and condensed by  Adam Bryant .   Q.  Who were some important mentors for you?   A.  I haven’t really had a lot of mentors. I’ve had to sort of figure things out for myself, because I’ve had a lot of  whatever the opposite of a mentor is. I’ve learned a lot from seeing what didn’t work. There should be a word for that  kind of boss — “dismentor” or something.  Q.  I think you just coined the term. Tell me about some of the behaviors you saw that made you say, “Memo to self: Don’t  do that.”   A.  At one job, I watched as a lot of decisions were made behind closed doors and then dictated to the staff without any  bridging of the feasibility gap. I remember one Web site where the owners of the company said, “O.K., we promised  this really cool idea to the client.” At the time, it felt genuinely impossible. That experience has informed tremendously  how we structure what we do now — you can’t disenfranchise people from the process by just giving them orders.  Q.  So what kind of culture did you want to create when you started your company?  A.  Probably the biggest lesson I  learned as we started to grow was — and this is a more sanitized version of the expression we use — “Don’t hire jerks,  no matter how talented.” I became very attuned to this early on, when we were still a small start-up, and you’re doing  everything you can to maintain a positive framework. So I’m looking for people I like, because I’ve seen how, no matter  how talented they are, the negative is always going to pull down any positive. The second- or third- or fourth-best  candidate who isn’t a jerk is going to ultimately provide way more value. Because we learned that early on, we’ve  always guarded against that sort of rock-star culture.  Q.  What was the dynamic with those kinds of hires? 
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A.  They say all the right things in interviews, and then they come in and really make people’s lives miserable. You  spend at least a third of your life at your job. You should have a place you’re happy to go to every day. And if you’re  not making good on that in even the smallest way, it becomes sort of pernicious. It can amplify itself very quickly.  I remember a guy, he really was an incredibly talented designer, one of the best I’ve ever seen, but he was just surly. No 
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