If you’re a long term Paper Napkin Wisdom listener, you may remember Christina Harbridge’s last visit EPISODE 47, when we had a lively discussion about shifting focus towards things that are enjoyable. If you’re just tuning in, Christina has a very interesting background. She has co-authored software, built a company that hit national revenue success, practiced acrobatic swing dancing, been a NASA test subject, and collaborated to design several large-scale metal sculptures currently on display in San Francisco, Austin, and Toronto. Now, she is the CEO of Allegory, a company that provides group training, one-on-one coaching, behavior change, and company culture services. In today’s podcast, she breaks down why drilling down on context is crucial to good communication.
Christina explains, “If I ask you for food and you hand me an apple, it’s because I wasn’t specific enough.” Taking it a step further, if she wanted a Granny Smith, she may find herself disappointed when you hand her a Golden Delicious for a midday treat. Recognizing levels of context has to become a habit, Christina remarks. As opposed to throwing around buzzwords, Christina recommends drilling down a bit and getting to the heart of the conversation and concerns. “Context is a deliberate practice and you must notice it everywhere in order to increase understanding. It will become more of a habit over time,” she says.
On an organizational level, becoming more contextual can pay dividends. Christina makes it a practice to ask for direct, tangible examples when a team member makes a complaint. “Getting examples can drive change and fulfill a person’s basic need to feel understood,” she believes. For example, as opposed to complaining that a Director of Finance is underperforming, Christina suggests asking team members for specific examples in order to change the complaint into a solution. “Context helps you understand if it's just a complaint or if there is a good example beyond the buzzwords,” she says.
Outside of complaints, Christina believes there is also a benefit in applying this philosophy to positive feedback. “When praising an employee, give root level feedback. Make sure to specify an example of exactly what you liked in order to see that behavior replicated,” she mentions. Christina admits that she wasn’t always a practitioner of this belief. “I used to not specifically articulate my needs and get mad when they weren’t met. It would bubble up until the point where a missed document would take me over the edge,” she recalls. By adopting this practice, she has found that things run more smoothly in both her personal and professional life.
How can you begin to practice specificity in your day-to-day life and organization’s life? Tweet us with your thoughts!
In a society where people expect things to materialize instantly, many would be entrepreneurs expect the same, as it relates to success. However, in today’s podcast, founder of RYSE Media, Jay Jackson discusses how his view of entrepreneurship has evolved over the years and provides tips for the next generation of entrepreneurs. “Some people dream of success, some people wake up and work hard at it every day,” he says.
With the insurgence of social media and the desire for instant gratifications, Jay finds that many people aren’t willing to put in the work required to be successful. “When you see a successful person, aspiring entrepreneurs often don’t understand the steps it took to get them there,” Jay says. Growing up, he often idealized the wrong people and was headed down a different path until he found a mentor who changed his perspective. The process of fulfilling his dreams by founding his own magazine wasn’t easy, “Early on, I realized the importance of consistency. I try to pass that value along to my team members and people I mentor.”
Jay believes that aspiring entrepreneurs should take the responsibility for their own empowerment and build doors, if necessary. “When I speak at high school and colleges, students often tell me they don’t encounter many entrepreneurs. Through sharing my story, I believe it empowers them a bit more,” he says. While many of the students idolize basketball players, they fail to realize the work behind the glitz and the glamour. “We’re living in a generation that wants everything instantly. But I think at the core, [my company] tries to expose people to success and the process to becoming successful,” Jay remarks.
As for Jay, his key to success is consistent and authentic innovation. “My team is young; the average person is around 25 years old. I’m always tapping them for ideas on how to engage and inspire through our content.”
What are tips you’d like to pass on to the next generation of entrepreneurs? Send us a tweet @WiseNapkin with your answer!
As entrepreneurs, it’s often tough to take time to smell the flowers. Learning how to juggle endless to-do lists, a budding business and loved ones can be difficult for even the most seasoned entrepreneur. However, in this week’s podcast, Trackmaven’s CEO Allen Gannett explains why he is making it a point to take time to be appreciative.
The 25 year old helms the fifty person B2B software company and managed to raise $26M. “I met investors who immediately fell in love with the business. There was a lot of momentum,” he recalls. Early on, he gravitated towards one of his investors and they began a mentor-mentee relationship. “As a young homosexual CEO, it was a confidence builder to find someone I connected with in a world where I wasn’t really fitting in,” Allen says. However, things took a turn when his mentor died unexpectedly. Stunned by the loss, he realized that he hadn’t been as appreciative of his mentor’s support. “It made me reflect on ways to appreciate those who have invested in me emotionally and financially.”
Allen began to find simple ways to acknowledge those around him. While entrepreneurs typically care more about getting the work done as opposed to getting a pat on the back, employees and team members often need that validation in order to feel appreciated. “There is a difference between entrepreneurship and leadership,” Allen explains. Now, if he sees an employee doing a stellar job, he’ll invite them out to lunch. “That validation can really make all the difference. As a CEO, people are constantly watching you - even in ways you don’t realize. It can be taxing, but its more positive and empowering. It can be a confidence builder for them,” he says.
While appreciation is important, he also thinks it’s necessary to have some sort of balance. In cases where the team is underperforming, he urges entrepreneurs to take a look at themselves first. “We have to be willing to ask ourselves if our goals are actually attainable,” he says. He also advises entrepreneurs to marry appreciation and accountability. “Put appreciation on a pedestal and develop a meritocracy culture.”