Most people know Tiki Barber as the former New York Giants running back — the star who retired in 2006 as the team’s all-time rushing and receptions leader.
What most people don’t know about Barber is that he has proceeded to dominate an entirely different arena since exiting the NFL: startups.
What began as a six-person company in the basement of a town house in New York City is now a thriving business, having expanded to three more major cities: Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco.
We spoke to Barber about life as an entrepreneur — which, he admits, is harder than life as a professional athlete — and how to create a sound team in order to survive and thrive in the startup world.
“My hiring philosophy has always been to hire somebody who’s smarter than me,” Barber explains.
It can be easy for startup founders to fall into the trap of developing a dangerous sense of pride and ownership over their company, which can stunt growth and innovation, Barber says.
Rather than having a steadfast vision and only looking down one path, the key to success is to collaborate — and to do it with those who are smarter than you.
“I hire people who have a specific expertise that I don’t have,” he explains. “And then I let them do their job. If I empower them to do their job, the company as a whole grows together.”
This structure creates a sense of trust within the company that is vital for success.
“When I look at everyone, from our CEO down, I expect each of them to be accountable for the person that’s sitting next to them,” says Barber. “You all have to depend on each other. If you can get that kind of philosophy ingrained into your employees, you have a great chance for success because you’re consistently getting what you expect from the person beside you.”
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