The peril of Stevie Cheeseburgers, or how to evaluate supposed “A-Players”
I used to work at this place called FireMon, which does cyber security, for part of 2018. At the time I got this job, it was pretty exciting because I was dead broke for a lot of the end of 2017, and this represented a new hope. Plus: the CEO personally did one of the final interviews, and I thought that was cool. Once I started, it was largely a comedy of errors. We hired a CMO who had a “five-year plan.” He left after 10 months. He regularly called meetings about “sales-marketing dynamics,” then would let sales just not attend. If someone questioned him, he’d say “I need them working the phones, not sitting in dumb meetings.” (Um, you called this meeting.)
So there was a dude there named Steve. He was a little pudgy, so people that didn’t like him — as you see in offices — called him “Stevie Cheeseburgers.” It’s mean, but also funny. The executives loved this guy because he sold. He was always over-quota. There was a guy in Germany who was also always over-quota, but Stevie Cheeseburgers was the only guy in North America who was. He was revered.
You know the title we assign these people: A-Players.
But there was something interesting about Stevie Cheeseburgers, that I recently thought of in a Medium comments thread. He was a big, boisterous guy and he demanded what he wanted internally often. So he’d get the best BDRs, the best SDRs, the best marketing people, the best events people, etc. He’d have a sick golf tournament organized completely for him, with a good email/phone flow before and after. At some point, he just needed to swoop in, work largely done, and make the final sale.
Now that’s hard — not everyone can do that. So he’s talented.
But is Stevie Cheeseburgers truly an A-Player?
I’ve written before about the “A-Player Fallacy,” which is the idea that a lot of people called “A-Players” in organizations are actually “C-Players,” but because they take work (and bullshit) off the desks of executives and SVPs, they are deemed A-Players. This wasn’t necessarily the situation with Stevie Cheeseburgers. In terms of getting the close, he was probably a B-Plus-Player up to an A-Player. But the reverence that people had for him — was that warranted, if he was cherry-picking the best people for his squad?
Some have argued that the A-Player discussion is “morally bankrupt,” meaning that you take already-motivated top performers and give them access to more, more, more in terms of people and resources. So it does nothing to pull up the middle ranks or the bottom links — if anything, it probably causes stagnation and resentment at those levels — and instead, the top gets more for themselves. Rich get richer, which is a problem in broader society too right now.
If you have a dullard BDR and grab the best BDR, and then have a marketing connection who can’t plan fancy drinking/golf events and you go get the best person for planning booze-fueled events … are you really an A-Player? Or are you just good at being loud and demanding to work with certain people?
How would you evaluate Stevie Cheeseburgers?