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Agreed. The subset of people who think they're great, and are great is vanishingly small IME. In fact after around 15 years of working as an engineer, I can think of maybe 2 people who fit that subset, and easily 50 who were legends in their own lunchtime.

It's gotten to the point where anyone who proclaims to be an expert in something is immediately suspect to me. The smartest guys I know never have to say it, and truly never brandish their skillset like some kind of gaudy prize. That kind of attitude makes it very easy to be undermined.

So who would you prefer to work with:

a) The smartest guys you know? b) The average guys you know? c) The average guys you know, but tell everyone how great they are? d) The below average guys you know? e) Other?

People who are great, do so not by telling other people they're great (although sometimes you need to have a little PR), but by demonstrating their great:

1. You want to work with them 2. Work diligently to make the team, product, and company better 3. Are smart 4. Are productive

A perfect blend of: talent, hardwork, and ambition.

I've noticed a trend of acceptable mediocrity here on HN. Any mention of wanting to work with people that are exceptional, results in near universally negative feedback.

As a startup, your first hires are CRITICAL. They set the tone of your company, and will carry a lot of the burden alongside the founders. You can't just settle for "good enough to get the job done." You're not just hiring for today, but for the next 2-5 years.

Seed your company with great people, and keep raising the bar.

Myself personally, I'm not great, so I want to work with people who are better than I am, not worse.

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