Why We Don’t Hire Rock Stars

by / ⠀Startup Advice / April 8, 2013

My company doesn’t hire rock stars, and neither should yours. Think about it: Rock stars are notorious for drinking, partying, and staying out all night. They’re not known for being responsible or particularly hard-working. Is that really the kind of employee you want to work with?

I’m sick of the job descriptions that state that the companies in question only hire rock stars. If you’re not a music producer or a distributor of black eyeliner for men, you don’t want rock stars. Here’s my shortlist of the other personalities that keep popping up in job descriptions that I would rather not bring on our team.


Startups, specifically tech startups, are notorious for stating they want a “website ninja” or a “social media ninja,” and I simply cannot figure out why. The definition of a ninja, according to dictionary.com, is “a member of a class of 14th-century Japanese mercenary agents who were trained in the martial arts and hired for covert operations such as assassination and sabotage.” Although this means they have a very impressive skillset, I’m not sure I need a trained assassin running my company’s Twitter account. Ninjas are also known for being extremely stealthy. I’m afraid that if we hired a ninja, we’d never be able to find him, and would just find sliced fruit lying around the office instead.


While I’m completely content with hiring diehard “Star Wars” fans, I’m not sure Jedis would fit in with our company culture. Jedis are known for being very secretive. They are most definitely not transparent, and I imagine I’d have a hard time ever knowing what they were really working on. The Jedi mind trick skill might be valuable when dealing with clients, but I’m not sure I could subject the rest of our team to this type of psychological warfare.


People have adapted the word “guru” to mean a specialist, but the real definition is closer to a spiritual leader. Since I don’t run a religious organization, I don’t currently see a need for a spiritual leader on the team. If someone is a self-appointed guru in a specific area, we know he won’t be a good fit simply because he’s the type of person who declared himself a guru. Enough said.

This is a real problem. Companies don’t know what a good employee should look like, so they default to the heroes they see in entertainment. They’ve begun using trendy phrases as shorthand for what they want because they don’t actually know what they want. If you don’t believe me, you can read this article on the WSJ, chockfull of stats on companies begging for rock stars.

It’s not that my team doesn’t want to work with great people; it’s actually the contrary. We want to work with wonderfully talented, driven, intellectually curious people. Rock stars, ninjas, Jedis, and gurus need not apply.


Kelsey Meyer is President and Co-Founder of DTA, a leading provider of expert content to the world’s leading publications.

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on Under30CEO.com, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.