It is a strange term, "Fire in the Belly", that refers to someone's drive or motivation to achieve success. When you're interviewing prospective employees, especially ones for a start up, finding this quality can be difficult. But, the reward for finding these people is immeasurable.
No one who wishes to be hired in an interview setting is going to say "Hey, when the going gets tough and you need someone to stay with the task until its done, it won't be me". Or, "Regardless of the importance to the company, I won't stay late to perfect tomorrow's presentation under any circumstances". People are socialized well enough to understand that commitment and diligence are valued traits.
Sure as an entrepreneur, you know that employees by definition won't care about the enterprise like you do. Potential employees will often describe a "passion" for the product, technology or tasks at hand. Which is nice, but fire in belly burns on and passion burns out. Fire in the belly is a continued drive that doesn't ebb or flow while passion rises and falls.
So how do you find it?
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Look for three things, which may appear individually or in combination.
First, look for a history of drive. People with drive have had it their whole life. It's in their DNA. People with real drive have demonstrated it from very, very early on. Ask questions about their very first job. Not the one after college, the very first thing they did for pay. Guess what, they usually started working early in life. And they took the jobs they could get for the pay available. And they were rewarded with more responsibility. You'll often find that they worked very hard in these jobs for low pay. And, if they are who you're looking for, they didn't then and don't now have any problem with working hard. BINGO!!! It's what they do, it is who they are as people. They will work hard for you because that's what they do and have done for every employer they have ever had. They are driven and always will be.
Second, find people with something to prove to the world or a member of it. You do this by asking questions about their role models, relationships, family and long term ambitions. People with drive usually have someone or some groups that have importance to them. Find out who they are, why they are important to them, and what they want to prove at the end of the day. To cut to the quick, it is frequently a parent. Sometimes it is positive, they worship a parent and want to make them proud. Or they have a notably successful parent they want to out do. Sometimes it is negative, the parent has expressed doubts or flat out pessimism about the interviewee prospects for success. Or the folks in their hometown think they are dumb to pursue this field. When you're determined that the candidate will be unrelenting to make a parent proud or prove some one or group wrong, you should be thinking about where he or she will sit in your office.
Third, find people that have overcome obstacles. Real obstacles like the loss of a parent, abusive or alcoholic caregivers, tragedy, or material set backs. Ask about their life growing up and the material conditions or events within it. What were their life changing events? People who have succeeded while balancing drunken parents and abandoned siblings at 15 aren't easily discouraged by the normal setbacks associated with growing a business. Their internal dialogue isn't about giving up or giving way. They don't tell themselves that things are "too tough". They will think to themselves, "hey, if the hell I grew up with wasn't enough to stop me, today's challenges aren't going to stop me either." If you want people who will go through walls to succeed, hire people who already have gone through walls in their life. I don't say this lightly or disrespectfully as these people have experienced real pain.
Find someone with any of these qualities and you will benefit every day they are in your employ. Drive or Fire in the Belly comes to work every day and brings energy to every task.