The Future of Growth Talent with Adam Lovallo

We chatted with Adam Lovallo, co-founder of and former Head of Growth at Living Social, to discuss the challenges of hiring and working in growth across agencies, in-house and into the future.

1. You’ve hired across a broad diversity of roles, are there any unifying characteristics of great candidates that stand out across them?

For any role in a “startup”, I’ve found a foundational knowledge of programming/code to be a hugely beneficial skill. I’m not looking for a lot… even completing a few courses on CodeAcademy is more than sufficient to have a basic understanding of how your companies’ systems actually work. I think this is especially important for Growth roles, as by definition the Growth job is meant to be cross functional and so it’s really beneficial if your Growth team and actually understand basic web analytics and interact intelligently with devs.

2. What are some of the key differences in hiring for an agency vs hiring to build out an in-house team?

Agency team members need to be able to communicate confidently and effectively with clients. I’ve hired really talented Growth folks who know their stuff but instantly lose credibility due to their presentation style. On the other hand, I think it’s important that in-house team members have cross functional interests and that they actually want to interact with design, analytics, data etc. I’ve found that true specialists (ex: someone that just focuses on paid UA) often don’t add enough value. 3. Where do the community events you build fit into your own searches as well as those of participating companies and candidates?

I co-founded a newsletter ( and a few conferences (namely years ago. To be honest, I’ve not yet really leveraged those communities meaningfully for my own searches, as I’ve been operating as “Thesis” in semi-stealth mode. That said, we do have a really active and free jobs board at and I encourage anyone looking to hire to post there.

4. Have you been able to turn someone who may have been a bad hire into a great employee?

Thesis is an outcomes focused group… both for our clients and for ourselves. A few employees that maybe weren’t a perfect fit have really bought into that mindset and are now key contributors. It’s a bit corny, but I’m really obsessed with an organizational book called the Great Game of Business, and I require each new team member to read it. Those that are really into that book’s approach generally turn out to be our best. 

5. What are some of the skills that you believe will be most important for candidates to have in the next 5-10 years?

If you are a “growth” marketer I think you need to have a foundational knowledge of UX, front end dev, back end dev, querying databases, and simple product management skills. That should complement the typical marketing skill set that you’d normally expect. I think the people that can work cross functionally in that way will be the CMOs/Heads of Growth of the future. 

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