Archive: Feb 2020

We Need a New Resume

Because Actions Speak Louder Than Job Titles

On a film set, every worker is hand-picked to be there. Usually, you get hand-picked because someone on that set knows your work. They recommend you because you are good at what you do and because you are a pleasure to work with. 

The tech/startup world is not too different. As work evolves, I believe that more of the job market will shift toward this tour-of-duty model, in which people come together to solve a specific problem. Increasingly, the future of work will look much more like a film set. 

To reflect this project-based work, we need a new kind of resume. This requires surfacing a different set of data—not just statements by the individual, but validation by the actions of those who work with them.

This requires two key changes to how the world of resumes works:

1. The new resume should capture the fact that great people get picked repeatedly to be on ambitious teams.

If I, as a director, choose to work with a producer or cinematographer repeatedly, it means I respect their capabilities and enjoy working with them. I am vouching for them with my actions. This data is gold1.

Similarly, in the tech world, I might hire the same engineer for multiple startups. By hiring her repeatedly, I’m vouching for her with my actions. Ideally, her resume should highlight the repeat engagements she’s earned, because the biggest validation by any work colleague is “Yes, I would choose to work with you again.” 

When someone is always selected, it’s because they are great. As the world moves to project-based work, this will be the key signal. 

2. The new resume needs to capture the value created, even in a short time. 

While people may only participate for a short period of time (1-2 years, 2-3 months etc.), they may still have an outsized impact on value creation. So, the new resume needs to capture the value that the person created, which is weighed more highly than their tenure. (By the way, we also need a different compensation system for this, but that’s a topic for another post). 

The new resume could make work better for everyone

Here’s how: 

  • Shorter projects lower the bar in a good way: When a team is hiring for a shorter project, it makes it easier to be considered or to break into an industry. Instead of having to be vetted by dozens of people, all you have to do is convince someone to let you onto a project, knowing that if it doesn’t work, you will be let go. 
  • Creating value is what’s valued: Fast learners, those who learn and apply those skills quickly, and hard workers who are collaborative and move things forward, will be rewarded. Impressing the people you work with will ensure you’ll be brought on again. 
  • Flexibility increases: Teams can bring on and let go of people as needed. And people can commit to shorter-term gigs or fire clients that don’t fit what they are looking for. 

Right now, I don’t see a good tech solution for this. If you are working on something like this, or spend your time thinking about this, please do get in touch. 


  1. IMDb, for example, has the data on how many times people have worked together but doesn’t do anything with it 

A Whole Lot Of Not Quitting

On Sunday, Carol Dysinger won the Oscar for her short documentary, Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl).

It’s a delightful film that will make you both laugh and cry, but this post isn’t a film review. It’s about a life lesson that I learned from her.

In 1977, when Dysinger was twenty-two years old, she won the coveted Student Academy Award. Frank Capra, famed director of You Can’t Take it with You and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, presented the award. It was (and is) a big deal — of all the student films made around the world, only one can win. Everyone, including Dysinger, assumed her career would take off like a rocketship from there.

Of course that stuff only happens in the movies. 

Dysinger’s real story was more of a struggle. She has worked in Afghanistan for almost 20 years, making documentaries that won prizes and grants from top festivals. But nothing compared to her early win.

I met Dysinger in 2009 when I joined a grad film program where she was the editing professor. She was working on a film called One Bullet Afghanistan, which, more than twelve years later, she’s still working on.  

It was during this time that Dysinger was asked to make a film about the girls of Skateistan — a school where underprivileged kids learn basic academics and how to skate. She accepted. Then this film, this side project, just took off.

Learning to Skateboard was nominated at major festivals and won at Tribeca and the BAFTAs before winning the Oscar for Documentary Short Subject. 

43 years after Carol Dysinger won the student academy award, she won the grown-up version. 

When I was her student, Dysinger’s favorite piece of advice was that becoming a filmmaker would take “a whole lot of not quitting” — a phrase she repeated during her acceptance speech. 

A whole lot of not quitting. That’s great advice for pretty much anything. Everything takes much, much longer than we think it will. We get frustrated, upset and dejected. After six years or ten, we give up. 

Sometimes quitting is the right choice. But often, those who reach the pinnacle do so not with shortcuts or luck, but because of a whole lot of not quitting. For decades.  

I’m thrilled to see one of the good ones succeed — four long decades after her first taste of success.

…But Sometimes, Ignore The Details

Last week, I wrote a post on knowing the details. And yes, you should absolutely know them. However, do not let the details drive the vision. Throughout a startups’ life, there will be pivots both big and small. Each of those should be because it is the right decision for the company in the competitive environment in which it lives. 

The reason large companies crawl along is that the layers of details and decisions and organization slow them down to a glacial pace — large companies defer to details. The way startups win is by moving fast and, when necessary, ignoring the details in order to point in the right direction.

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