Ryan believes that a CEO should spend more time on recruiting and managing people than on any other activity, and that the head of HR is one of the most important people in the company. He insists on his freedom to bypass managers and speak with any employee at any time. And he espouses certain talent-management principles, such as that your best people are usually underpaid (reward them with performance pay) and that people leave jobs mainly because they don't like their managers. Recruiting at Gilt Groupe focuses on references more than on résumés and interviews because, Ryan says, resumes only establish basic qualifications for a job, and interviewers can't help being influenced by well-spoken or attractive people. But reference checks need to go beyond the names supplied by a candidate: Employers should dig up people in their networks who are willing to speak candidly.