Business Mogul Evan Rubinson on How To Hire for Success

By Cory Maki Cory Maki has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on November 7, 2022

Acquiring new employees, from hiring to onboarding, is an expensive yet essential aspect of running any business. Making the right hire is crucial to save time and money and set your company up for long-term success. But even by the best measurements, experienced managers make bad hires at least one-third of the time. 

To help reverse the trend, we spoke with Evan Rubinson, CEO of ERA Brands and a former hedge fund manager, to better understand how he approaches one of the most consequential processes in business. His career spanning the worlds of finance and music has given him unique insight into what works and what doesn’t when bringing in new talent. 

The first rule of hiring is to know what you want, he said. 

“In some ways, I’m a pretty simple guy when it comes to hiring. You don’t need a Harvard Ph.D., in my opinion. Can’t hurt, but you don’t need that to be successful,” Evan Rubinson said. “I look for people who have a high degree of work ethic, a high degree of loyalty, and a high degree of teamwork.”

Those three traits are indicative of a functional and adaptable personality, he explained, which ultimately translates into business success in any industry. 

Evan Rubinson: ‘A Lot of Moving Parts’

“[I look for people who] are willing to put aside their own pride and ego, and are willing to give to a team and work well around the other people, because even though we’re a fairly small company, maybe 50 or less employees, everyone really has to operate in tandem together,” he said. “[ERA Brands has] a lot of moving parts. From import/export to manufacturing to research and development, to sales, to marketing, to artist relations …it’s key to have a team that operates in sync and feeds off each other.”

It also helps to know yourself. The right hire isn’t just a skills fit, but also a culture fit. A smart CEO hires people they know can work well alongside each other, according to Rubinson. “What’s my favorite part of what I do? I would say the people. I’m a people person, so I enjoy working with good people that are very passionate, and that genuinely seem to care about other people,” he shared. 

But hiring is only half the battle. Once an employee has been hired, they need time and attention in order to grow into the role. 

“You’ve got to play to your management style. I’m a very, very, hands-on, perfectionist type of leader. Typically, if I hire a new employee, for the first few months, I’m very, very hands-on, very involved in everything — even the innocuous minutia,” he said. “Once I develop a comfort level with that person, then I let a little bit more rope out. You know the expression if you give someone some rope, sometimes they hang themselves, sometimes they succeed? I try to mitigate the potential for failure by trying to be very, very hands-on with people in the beginning.”

That sort of intense focus has benefits both ways, he added. Not only does the employee get a master class in learning the vision and expectations from the top, the boss becomes acquainted with the actual strengths of the new hire.

A hands-on approach provides a chance to tailor the role to the individual and make adjustments where necessary, allowing for the best functioning outcome. But it also reveals when an employee is the wrong fit for the business. 

The sooner a manager can correct hiring mistakes, the better. It saves time and money in the long run. 

That doesn’t mean that every employee needs to fit into the culture perfectly. Creating a more flexible approach to management ensures companies don’t lose out on quality hires because of personality clashes or trivial differences. 

“I’ve learned a lot about how to work with different personalities and how to be effective around different models and strategies,” Evan Rubinson said, “not just having kind of a cookie-cutter plan of, ‘This is how it’s going to work. This is how people should behave. This is the standard.’ 

“It’s really about … not allowing people to create their own society at a business, but also not being so rigid and so kind of corporate-oriented that if someone steps out of line, you write them off. I think having both of those perspectives, and in the order that I had them, the strict discipline perspective first, and then the, ‘OK, let’s open up a little bit more, let’s be more understanding, let’s be more relatable, let’s be more of a people person than a data person’ — I think both of those are very, very important things to mesh together.”

That sounds like a winning team, indeed. 

By Cory Maki Cory Maki has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Cory Maki is a former Staff Editor and the Business Development Manager at Grit Daily.

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