In My Book Motivation and Hard Work Trump Talent Any Day


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Around six months ago I purchased a Brazilian blog about the Android operating system (called Blog do Android). I wasn’t too happy with the write that was taking care of the content there, so last week I decided to hire a new one.

First of all I published a post on the blog itself saying we were looking to add a new staff writer to the team, asking interested readers to get in touch. Within a couple of days I received 50 or so emails showing interest.

After that I replied to all the candidates explaining the hiring process: basically they would send me a first article. If I liked it I would publish it on the blog and they would work and send me a second and possibly a third article. After that I would have enough data on my hands to make my decision.

And here’s the interesting thing: the “data” I am referring to above is not only the writing quality of the articles, as one could wrongly assume. In fact the writing quality is not even the most important aspect. What I want to test with the above process is the motivation and the willingness to work hard of the candidates.

For instance, a couple of the candidates sent me really nice articles. The grammar was impeccable, the style was humorous and easy to follow, and the topics they decided to write about were pretty interesting.

However, after I replied saying I liked their first articles and that they could start working on a second piece, one of the candidates took three days to tell me he would start working on his second piece, and the other sent me a second piece after six days.

By that time I had already hired my writer. It was a guy who sent me his first article a couple of hours after I explained to him the writing process. Once I told him I liked his first piece within six hours he had a second one ready to go, and was already asking for some feedback so that he could improve on this third, fourth and subsequent pieces.

Bottom line: if you want to hire someone, look for motivation and ability to work hard. If you want to get hired, show it.

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14 Responses to “In My Book Motivation and Hard Work Trump Talent Any Day”

  • Meraj Khattak

    Agreed with this. Motivation and work hard will improve the skills while lack of these in one will lose his skills over time.

  • Chucker Reibach

    Hi, Daniel – I agree with you and my age (over 40) probably puts me in minority. I have two children and I have tried to instill these traits in them, but the world seems to think otherwise. Thanks for the reminder that these two traits should never be compromised.

  • DHgate

    Wow,fortunately I’ve read about this now. I am a person who is a little bit lazy and do everything at ease. Well I’ll have to show my motivation or I’ll always be dismissed.

  • Shahzad Saeed

    Oh … Daniel, That’s awesome piece of advice. Hope you have more time to write articles on this blog

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Ehsan, I just own the sites, I don’t write or manage them. I hire people to do that for me.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Peteni, it’s a compromise between the two, but in my experience the most motivated person, given enough time and feedback, will end up producing higher quality material than the most skilled one.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Paul, yep I pay for every article the writers send that get approved/published on the blog.

    As for the process, obviously the guy who showed the higher motivation also had decent writing skills. He was not as good as the ones who just sent one article, though.

  • ES

    Interesting experience Daniel. True. I am too puzzled about how you manage so many blogs. I am finding it difficult to manage 3 of them!

  • MarieBo

    Hi Daniel,

    I particularly appreciate this article as we never read anywhere how to evaluate the potential of an external writer.

    My first comment, but, a faithful “French” reader of yours.


  • Phuong Le

    Entrepreneurs and small businesspeople are always looking for creative ways to accomplish more of their business goals for less money. One strategy that can help you save time, money and frustration as you start and build your business is to outsource as much work as possible to skilled, but cost-effective, external service providers

  • Ehsan Ullah

    Nice article with great lesson. The ability and the effort of putting in work is must to look before hiring a writer.

    BTW, Daniel. I didn’t know about this one of your blog. I think you have a lot of blogs, some I know is Daily Writing Tips, Daily Bitz, Daily Blog Tips and now this Adrioid blog. Can you manage your time working on all of those blogs?

  • Peteni Kuzwayo

    Hey Daniel,

    Interesting article. Your point is a very valid one. But, where do you draw the line between quantity and quality?

    Perhaps, some of the candidates were trying to compile articles that were high quality and that could have taken them slightly longer.

    Working ‘slowly’ doesn’t always mean a person is not motivated or able to work hard.

    But, lovely article. Short and to the point…

  • Paul Clifford

    So, at the end of the process you could have had 3 articles per writer that you didn’t pay for?

    I had someone offer me a video editing job if I’d just do the first one for free. They only had 6, so I refused. They needed to make the same offer to 6 more editors and they’d have all the work done for free.

    It’s one thing if it’s a volunteer gig and you never promise money, but what you did sounds like going to a restaurant and telling them if they give you 3 free meals, you’ll pay for the 4th and future meals IF you like the first 3.

    Now, if you paid for all of them, that’s different, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t read that you did. Did you specify that turn around was more important than quality?

    It sounds to me like “quick shoddy work” is better than “slower, high quality work” in your mind. Am I wrong? Am I misreading? Please clarify if I missed details or misunderstood them.

    Not to belabor the point, but you left out an “r” in your second sentence: “I wasn’t too happy with the write[r] that was taking care of the content…”

    I agree that work completed is better than work put off, but isn’t better work worth a little more time?

    I’m not angry or trying to slap your hand; I’m just trying to understand your process.

  • Liam

    Couldn’t agree more. I have suppliers for one of my shops who takes up to a week to reply. Can’t stand it, makes me want to switch suppliers altogether.

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