51 Percenter



I was reading Danny Meyer’s book, “Setting the Table” and found that many of my own views on employees and culture mirror the thoughts he shared in his book. He calls it the “51 percenter principle”, where he views 49 percent of people by their technical ability and 51 percent by their emotional skills.

While the “percentages” are a bit meaningless, the point is that hiring for emotional intelligence is more important than hiring for technical ability. The context might be hospitality, I firmly believe the universality of the principle works in any industry and in any profession. That is not to say that technical expertise is not important, but in the long-run you will have better teamwork and better results with employees hired with emotional skills as a critical part of the evaluation and hiring process.

What do “emotional skills” consist of though? Below is an excerpt from the book on what he evaluates when hiring staff. All five are ones that I fully agree with, particularly the second point about curiosity and learning, which is critical when selling complex technology solutions.

To me, a 51 percenter has five core emotional skills. I’ve learned that we need to hire employees with these skills if we’re to be champions at the team sport of hospitality. They are:

1) Optimistic warmth (genuine kindness, thoughtfulness, and a sense that the glass is always at least half full)

2) Intelligence (not just “smarts” but rather an insatiable curiosity to learn for the sake of learning)

3) Work ethic (a natural tendency to do something as well as it can possible be done)

4) Empathy (an awareness of, care for, and connection to how others feel and how your actions make others feel)

5) Self-awareness and integrity (an understanding of what makes you tick and a natural inclination to be accountable for doing the right thing with honesty and superb judgment)




Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by visualpun.ch

About the author: Mark Birch

Mark is an early stage technology investor and entrepreneur based in NYC. Through Birch Ventures, he works with a portfolio of early stage B2B SaaS technology startups providing both capital and guidance in the areas of marketing, sales, strategic planning and funding.

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