Keith Rabois on how to identify great talent

“What you want to do with every single employee every single day is expand the scope of their responsibilities until it breaks… and that’s the role they should stay in.”

In the clip below, Keith tells the story of giving an intern at Square the task of getting smoothies to arrive at the office at 9pm to reward the engineering team. And once the intern proved they could solve this task that had stumped multiple people at the company, he gave them something more important and consequential to do.

Everybody has some level of complexity that they can handle, and you want to keep expanding their responsibility until you see where it breaks—as Keith points out, some people will surprise you:

“There will be some people who you don’t expect—with different backgrounds, without a lot of experience—who can just handle enormously complicated tasks. So keep testing that and pushing the envelope.”

Keith mentions that you should also monitor who is going up to other people's desks. If you see people frequently going up to a person's desk, it's a sign that that person can help them. Promote these people and give them more responsibility as fast as you can.