Josh Goldblum | Crain's Philadelphia

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Josh Goldblum


Based in Philadelphia, Bluecadet is an Emmy Award-winning digital agency that creates websites, mobile apps and interactive installations for museums, cultural institutions, universities and nonprofits. Since it was founded in 2007, Bluecadet has worked with such clients as Doctors Without Borders, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

The Mistake:

Bluecadet has grown in the last ten years from me and two other people to almost 50 people. We have a professional team, and an office that is supportive, fun, and nurturing. There aren’t any weak players on the team right now. But that wasn’t always the case. Most of the big mistakes I’ve made have centered on hiring and firing. 

There were a couple of times where I had a hard time qualifying whether people were good enough to do the job they were interviewing for, but ended up hiring them because they were really convincing. One was sure she was a senior talent and completely oversold herself, while the other just talked the talk.

Neither turned out to be a fit for their respective positions: One was very mid-level, while the other didn’t actually know what he was doing, and didn’t produce very much.

It’s wrong to let candidates dictate their own positions.

The Lesson:

Through these experiences, I learned to trust my own gut about someone’s actual capabilities. It matters less about what they perceive their skills to be, and more about what you evaluate them to be. It’s wrong to let candidates dictate their own positions because it sets them up for failure—and ends up costing the business a lot. 

Another lesson: If we’re hiring for a skill set, and we have a hard time evaluating whether or not a person is qualified enough, we make sure to pull in other people who can help evaluate that individual. We’ll also want to check their track record, talk to people who have worked with them, and look at projects they’ve worked on so we know they can actually deliver. 

Follow Bluecadet on Twitter at @Bluecadet.

Photo courtesy of Bluecadet.