Human Capital: The Essential Guide to Scaling People Systems

Learn how to build a startup that outlearns the competition with this talent guide.
By Matt Hoffman, Tania Luna

Last Updated: September 21, 2021

Published: December 8, 2020

Welcome to Human Capital!

At M13, we get excited about helping talented entrepreneurs build the very beginnings of their organizations. Thanks to our hard-learned experience as former operators, we’ve created playbooks for how to build successful companies. 

As the Partner and Head of Talent at M13, Matt’s role is to coach our founders to succeed by optimizing their organizational systems, from recruiting the best talent to building a resilient, high-performing culture. Something we’ve realized along the way is that organizational systems can’t just be designed for scale and performance. They have to be designed to enable constant learning. This is where our partnership with LifeLabs Learning comes in.

LifeLabs Learning is the leading skill accelerator for 1,000-plus innovative companies (like Squarespace, Warby Parker, Slack, GoPro, and The New York Times). They train  managers, execs, and teams in “tipping-point skills” small changes that tip over into big impact on performance and engagement. And they’re also the experts we trust most when it comes to weaving these skills and a culture of learning into the fabric of any organization. LifeLabs Learning leaves every company they support smarter than they found them.

Beginning in 2021, M13 and LifeLabs Learning will be pooling our findings and insights to help more companies not just outsmart but outlearn their competition. Building companies that learn fast isn’t just a nice-to-have anymore. It’s the mechanism that allows companies to be agile, nimble, adaptive, and to survive and thrive in the midst of change and volatility. It’s not just businesses on the line—individual jobs, psychological well-being, and physical safety are now at stake too. 

Despite the undeniable need for us to catalyze rapid learning and the exchange of knowledge and insights across our organizations, most people still think of ”learning” as an HR function or a perk that you add on at 200 employees. Let’s change that together now! Let’s usher in a new era of businesses, designed from the ground up to be infinite in their capacity to evolve, iterate, and make the impossible inevitable. A developmental-focused growth mindset is absolutely essential to making a startup successful. We’ll apply that lens to helping companies build out their stack of People Operations systems, and ensure that learning is the foundation upon which exceptional talent, engagement, and performance is built.

We know that when armed with these tipping-point skills, and approached with a learning mindset, founders and leaders like you can exponentially increase the impact of their teams. But we know change doesn’t happen overnight. So! Every month in 2021, beginning in January, we’ll release updates in this hyper-practical guide to transforming one organizational system at a time. Collectively, these systems will form a perpetual learning ecosystem, with the aspiration every person ends every day smarter than they started. In each lesson, we’ll wave red flags to help you avoid outdated “best practices” (like pay for performance, salary negotiation, and career ladders) and offer clear, jargon-free, step-by-step advice for what you can do instead. 

You’ll get access to each tutorial below, along with invitations to live events co-hosted by M13 and LifeLabs Learning supporting the following topics:

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