Lecture 2 – Team and Execution (Sam Altman)

3. Team

Co-founder relationship is very important.
In early stages:

  1. Co-founders
  2. Try not to hire
  3. Get the best people
  4. You’ve hired the best- now keep them around
  5. Fire fast

Questions to answer when trying hire.

  1. Are they smart?
  2. Do they get things done?
  3. Do I want to spend a lot of time around them?
  4. Work on a project with them for a day or two
  5. Call References
  6. Good communication skills
  7. Risk-taking attitude
  8. Would you feel comfortable reporting to them


Three things that motivate employees to do good work:

  • Autonomy
  • Mastery
  • Purpose


4. Execution

You need to become an execution machine, a role model for your employees.

The CEO has five jobs:

  • Set the vision
  • Raise money
  • Evangelize
  • Hire and manage
  • Make sure the entire company executes

Two key questions of execution:

Can you figure out what to do?

Can you get it done?

FOCUS – Say NO a lot. Set overarching goals. Repeat them. Communicate.
Maintain growth and momentum. Work together in person.
– What are you spending time and money on? You don’t get points for trying.
– What are two or three most important things every day?

INTENSITY – you need to be willing to outwork your competitors
Quick, Do whatever it takes, Show up, Don’t give up, Be courageous.
– Relentless operating rhythm
– Obsession with Execution Quality
– Bias towards action


Always keep momentum, always keep growing, always keep winning, Sales fix everything.

Set an operating Rhythm
– Shipping Product
– Launching new features
– Reviewing/reporting metrics and milestones