5 clues on how to find good people

Nov 18, 2015 by Ronnie Apteker

Rather invest in a bad business with good people than in a good business with bad people. Ideas don’t move mountains, people do.

Coming up with good ideas isn’t easy, but finding good people is an even bigger challenge. As Thomas Edison once said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” There is no substitute for putting in the time and effort. Everyone enjoys a friendly person, but rolling up one’s sleeves and getting your hands dirty is fundamental.

Good people stick together. If you find one good person, chances are they will have friends. Always be on the lookout. If you find a good person, look after them. Even in an age of searchability and social media, they are hard to find.

Hire slow, fire fast

Honesty is most important. People who are too clever for their own good are a problem. Intelligence is one thing, but you don’t need smartasses who cut corners. A new person in your team could make or break things, make sure you do enough homework. And there is no substitute for gut feeling, don’t rush. Getting a new person on board could be a life-changing move.

Never abandon your sense of judgment. If something does not sit well, make a change. If they turn out to be a lemon, don’t hope for lemonade, get rid of them… quickly!

Many companies have a probation period. This makes sense.

Do business with people you like to have dinner with

Relationships need mutual respect. If people are full of it, then avoid them like the plague. If they have the plague as well, then all bets are off.

Good people are generally also those who you enjoy spending social time with. You would not marry someone you don’t enjoy having dinner with. Same with work. Of course you don’t socialize with all the people you work with, but as a litmus test, if a person is not pleasant around a dinner table, then can you imagine working with them every day.

A mentor friend, Paul, once joined a group of us at a comedy club. He said, “This is a great place to bring potential business partners.” I looked at him with great curiosity. What did he mean? “If they don’t like to laugh, I don’t want to do business with them,” he clarified. Wisdom from a master.

The best people I have ever worked with came from referrals. A friend of a friend. But never forget the basics. Friends and work are very different things. Working with someone is not the same as being friends. Even referrals need care and attention. But in general, this is a good place to start finding inspired and motivated souls.

There are many entrepreneur working groups and business chapters, in every city of the world, with regular events and networking functions. Within the six degrees of separation you will find someone you know at one of these circles, including good people options.

Old-fashioned recruitment is probably the most common way to find people - there are many gems hiding in the cracks. It often boils down to luck and sometimes you have to take a chance. Just never forget the basics: Respect is the building block of all healthy working relationships. Finding good people is about identifying good values.

Say what you mean, and mean what you say

One simple secret to success: keep your promises. If you say you are going to do something, then do it. And if something changes, then manage expectations. Most frustration and anxiety in this world comes from poor communications.

Bad communicators create headaches. If you make excuses for them, then you are your own worst enemy. Good people are better communicators than most. They mean what they say.

Let them talk

Selling is about listening. When you meet someone, you want to inspire and excite them. But the truth is, let them do the talking. Ask them what they think, then be quiet. The more they talk the more you are selling them on the vision – trust us on this. I have learned this wisdom over decades.

If you want to get them a bit off guard then show them an icebreaker or two. Whip out The Numbers or give them a taste of the Fly Bye. Then be quiet.

When others speak you learn. When you speak you don’t learn anything.


We are the choices we make. Our character is our destiny. Remember, personality opens doors, but character keeps them open. Good people have character. This is different from being a character. Everyone enjoys a funny guy, but business is no joke. Sure, we want to enjoy our work and I am never inspired by people who take themselves too seriously. But integrity is more important than fun and games. Good people keep their promises, communicate well, and don’t drop the ball. Sometimes they drop a joke, but not a ball.

Money is always the acid test. Good people do good work because they care. Money may make them come to work each day, but the best work comes from the heart. You can pay people to be busy but you can’t pay them to be passionate. The best people are inspired souls that believe in the mission. Paying people a lot of money does not mean they will be good.

Summing up

Good people are better than good ideas. They outlive ideas. They generally have good track records. Do your homework, find out about them. Spend time with them out of the office. If a person is key to the mission it is worth investing the time. If an alarm bell goes off inside, it is for good reason. Never invest time in arrogant people. Humble, hardworking folk are more valuable than cocky know-it-alls. The smartest people don’t need to tell you how smart they are. Kind people are the best kind of people. Good people are most often very kind.

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