Much is often said about the founders of a company, including on this blog. And they seem to receive a preponderance of the recognition for the ultimate success of an endeavor. Of course, it’s obvious that these individuals are vital to a startup. However, I think that the people often overlooked are those key first hires. Yes, the management team has a great affect on an organization, regardless of its size or stage. But the first individual- and team- contributors brought into an organization help set the tone for the culture in a profound way. One single strong and vibrant personality can energize the office. Someone’s quirkyness can add real character to the group. Those first five to ten non-management hires in a startup help set the tone for how things get done and how people behave while they’re doing it. Being an early hire at a startup gives an individual the ability to make tremendous impact on an organization as it grows – and both the founders and those hires should know it.