Founder’s Corner #4: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

By Max Thomas

This month, we’re trying out video for my Founder’s Corner post. We figured it’s such an important topic that we should use an equally compelling medium.

So what’s this month’s Founder’s Corner all about? The people. It’s the people that make a business what it is. Join me as I walk through important qualities we look for when hiring Thunder Cats, our interviewing process, and successes and challenges we’ve encountered along the way.

And what about”standing on the shoulders of giants”? It’s a very fitting theme for this post, since it speaks to gaining wisdom from other’s experiences. Hiring is consistently a hot topic at industry events and meetups, and as always, we love learning from our marketing peers.

I’d love to hear more about your thoughts and experiences, so please feel free to share in the comments.


Hi. I’m Max Thomas with Thunder SEO. This month for the Founder’s Corner we’re going to try a video post. So thanks for joining, and today we’re going to talk about one of the most important things of Thunder and any company, which are the people.

Last week I was at a San Diego meetup, and I had the chance to visit with Rob Ousbey at Distilled, great guy, great company. He was talking about their hiring process, and he mentioned how there are two things they look for when they hire. One is that someone is smart, and the other is that they know how to get things done. Their idea was you’ve got to be smart to be curious and to make things happen and to explore. But you don’t want to be so smart or intellectual that you don’t make things or that you don’t do things. So that leads to the second part of people who get things done, but aren’t necessarily smart. They might be running around like with their heads cut off and not really thinking as they go forward. So I thought that was pretty smart because those are two great qualities to have.

The third one I would add is heart. I think it’s really important that an employee has heart in what they do. That’s a big deal here at Thunder because our mission statement is actually to inspire passion for interactive marketing through true innovation and results. So we lead with passion, so heart is important.

One thing I want to talk about is what we see as a success in the hiring process and in working with people in general, and that is the hiring process. Finding people who are smart, who get things done, who have heart, and who can actually work together well is not easy. As we all know, it’s not until someone gets into an environment and with the group and working with the team that everyone even knows if it’s going to work out. So we have developed at Thunder a sort of multilevel hiring process where we try to engage the user or we try to engage the applicant every step of the way. It starts with asking them questions that they respond to. Then it goes to an actual case study on the phone. Then it goes to an actual work case study in person at the office where they present results. We try our hardest to not even think about someone in a personal way or a candidate in a personal way until we get past all those three hurdles. Then we get to know the person. It’s proved successful. Everyone in the office right now has gone through that kind of interviewing process or something similar.

It points to the second thing I want to touch on is what I would call what to look out for. Like I mentioned before, we can’t predict how well everyone will work together. But what we have found is that if someone is in the wrong position, then the company has basically made a mistake. It’s management and the company’s opportunity or responsibility to put that person where they can shine, where their assets and their skills can support them the most and also support the growth of the company the most.

So those are our few thoughts on the most important part of a company, which are the people, and what we’ve learned over the years. So thank you for joining this month’s Founder’s post, and we look forward to next month.

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Max Thomas

By Max Thomas

Max is a nationally recognized digital marketing specialist who is an expert on search engine optimization and data-driven digital marketing who has spoken at SMX and SMX Advanced, LMA Southeast, LMA Tech in San Francisco, WordCamp and other industry recognized conferences. As the founder and CEO of ThunderActive, Max has lead his team (with offices in San Diego and New York City) to success for clients in legal, real estate, life sciences, consumer goods and new tech. A Columbia undergraduate with a Yale MBA, Max is an Impact Circle Member for The Trevor Project and is an advisor to start-up companies and angel investment networks, including Gaingels and Serval Ventures in New York.

Wanna connect? See you on Twitter or Foursquare.

  • I not only found your comments about the most important part of a company interesting, I was actually uplifted by your comment about hiring people who come from the heart.

    While being smart and having the ability to get things done is very important, coming from the heart is where true passion lies.

    When more companies begin aspiring to this concept, there will be more soul in business.

    Thank you, Max, for your willingness to lead with heart and to encourage this in the hiring process.

    • Thank you, Connie! That’s a great compliment. It really is all about the people and that wonderful mix of passion and heart. It’s exciting to see how companies now are shifting the paradigm.