Being second in command is tricky terrain to navigate; just ask Adventure Links COO Adam Trautenberg. Co-host, Miranda Barrett joins Govindh Jayaraman to get the inside scoop on how this COO takes charge of a demanding job that’s constantly in flux.
“The role is defined by the relationship with the CEO,” explains Adam. That relationship isn’t something that simply grew overnight. For him, “it was an organic experience…it built over time.” Trust is the most essential result of that developmental period. The two key components of their symbiosis involve him understanding his CEO’s vision, and, “her having the trust in me that I’ll get there.”
With trust, comes candor: “Mistakes are open and discussed.” For Adam and his CEO, it’s about finding solutions, not pointing fingers. “She’s not going to scream and yell, or fire me, or threaten to fire me…It’s a really honest and open communication line.” However, that doesn’t protect him from political pitfalls.
COOs often find themselves, for better or for worse, as the liaison between the CEO and the rest of the company. “If you cover too much for the CEO…you can lose a little bit of the trust of the team.” It’s a fine line that only a few have the balance to walk.
So, what does it take to make a great COO? Adam quickly asserts, “Adaptability.” Apparently, there simply isn’t a normal day for him, which explains why, “there’s no job description for COO.”
The goal of Carey Anne Nadeau, founder of Open Data Nation, is to “bring expertise in open data and data science to bear on the most pressing urban issues.” What compelled her to start the company was that she “wanted something to exist that just didn’t exist.” She was frustrated, dissatisfied, and complaining. The industry tended to be a “boys’ club,” and she experienced this firsthand when she was getting paid significantly less than a male peer. “The structures that already existed were not supportive to my growth,” she says. When told by a friend she should just “do it herself” she found the inspiration to start her own business. She chose to focus on using data science for societal benefit – to improve health and safety in cities – and become a female role model.
At one point, her entire company was female. This did not occur intentionally, but because it was mostly women who were motivated to do data statistics for the betterment of our society. Hence the title, “the future is female.” Carey Anne sees “a lot of opportunity for women to have a greater role. When they do, businesses see a lot of benefits.”
However, because her industry is still a “boys’ club,” Carey Anne is very aware of how she can be perceived. When she meets with new clients, talks about her value proposition, and lets her audience know she’s an MIT data scientist and city planner, they are often taken aback. Their reaction is, “What? That can’t be.” Knowing that have people have questioned or doubted a young, female entrepreneur’s standing in the industry, she suggests that one be very aware of people’s possible predispositions with respect to race, age, ethnicity, etc. – even whether a man has a beard.
Carey Anne sees data’s role in business as helping think about, anticipate, and prepare for the future, not just as means of reviewing the past. For example, she will ask clients, “What pain points are you overwhelmed with?” to gain an understanding of how to get ahead of the problem.
Carey Anne does believe “the future is female,” but she is not saying the future is not male. It is not a zero-sum game. In her own experience, her male and female advisors offer divergent, but complementary, business-building help and insights. Where men are very focused on the current business and have opened boardroom doors, women have pushed more aggressively about how to make money. They “are really scrappy, looking for another angle, they don’t pigeonhole,” she says. At the same time, it is often a female characteristic to offer love, appreciation and support, and Carey Anne hopes that men, too, see themselves as “examples for others in the way we can all live our lives with more love and more happiness.”
So many people who talk about living an abundant lifestyle. It’s a big subject, particularly when you’re not feeling abundant. When you are at the top of the cycle, having big wins, everything fills our buckets. But at the bottom of the cycle, where there are no wins and things don’t happen, we don’t feel abundant.
When we’re at bottom of the cycle, we must realize that abundance and the path to abundance starts with one. Just one small win, one small act of kindness. What we focus on, act on, align with, and measure will get done and come into our lives.
One thing can become many when we focus on it. What we focus on becomes true. What we spend our time on gets bigger. Where your attention goes, your focus goes. So abundance starts with one.
Think of one thing that went right today - why did it go right? What did you contribute? Think of one time you led someone to a higher and better result, one time you coached someone, one time you made a connection, and how it all came together.
The reverse is true too: when you focus on one bad thing, it becomes everything. So make that one right thing the center of your focus. Because abundance starts with one.
Let’s work together to make this year the best one yet.
I want to help you. Please go to www.PaperNapkinWisdom.com and sign up, we’ll send you the e-book that contains the secret structure that will build more scalable, even exponential results than you had thought possible.
You have so much to give, you had better start now.
Take Action is a short podcast, usually between 3 to 5 minutes long, and the focus is on the small, 1% improvements we can make in our businesses and lives. Small changes make a big difference!
This podcast will help you make small changes that will change your world, so we can together save the world one entrepreneur and small business at a time!
In this week’s Leading Behind the Scenes, Marlou Hermsen makes the case (without laughing) that those who wish for a better world should seek to, “CHANGE the world without being a smug twat.” If the statement makes you smile, and does not offend, it means you’re probably on the right track, because, as Marlou further explains, smugness, besides being a deterrent to team collaboration, is also a creative block. Collaboration is key to success, but when individuals are smug twats, they stifle new ideas and thwart joint ventures.
According to Marlou, there are people who work for worthy causes to personally benefit — via the acquisition of money or notoriety. These types of gains can lead to smugness. Instead of seeking profit, she says, find a purpose. But, how can one not be smug when they have been successful? Easy. Reflect. Celebrate the small steps, but don’t lose sight of the big picture. Avoid superficiality. If one remembers that work is never done, the impetus to be smug will diminish.
Despite wanting to change the world for the better, Marlou don’t consider herself to be an activist. She says, “The word ‘activist’ has a stereotypical feel, a negative connotation — it reeks of smug twat, of someone who is an individual, rather than a team contributor. Even though I have spent my whole career actively working towards change, I avoid labeling myself an activist. Instead, I prefer to be called naive.”
Naive is the opposite of smug, exactly what we need to succeed. Naive implies that one is not jaded, that one is open to new ideas. Curiosity, drive, and commitment are elements of naiveté. Once a person has become set in their ways, these traits vanish, and smugness takes hold. It’s like losing your superpower.
Everyone has a superpower — it’s comprised of what you enjoy doing, plus what you are good at. Superpowers are about balance. And balance is the key to being energy-resilient, which is so important when working towards a goal.
Marlou has learned that changing the world does not occur in a straight line. Instead, she notes, it’s two steps forward, five steps back, ten steps forward, one step back. As such, it would be easy for a smug twat to lose their balance, and energy, and forgo an opportunity to change the world.
On this episode of Paper Napkin Wisdom, entrepreneur and author Damion Lupo makes his case for the gift of errors, “Mistakes are the universe gifting us wisdom, wrapped up inside the struggles in life.” Damion further explains that throughout our lives, we make mistakes, and as we do, we are taught that mistakes are bad. As a result, we revere people, who we believe, do not err or who are perfect at what they do. In truth, perfection is a farce, a fabrication of society. To understand the depth of knowledge, and succeed in any endeavor, mistakes must be made and overcome.
“If you want to succeed, don’t make mistakes, and don’t challenge authority; go with what you’re told to do.” Damion notes that this philosophy teaches people to become robots and puppets. Those who truly succeed are the ones think for themselves, who make mistakes, and who are willing to venture into the dark and learn from that void.
From the corporate and entrepreneur point of view, Damion further discusses that people don’t always acknowledge when they have made mistakes, so they continue to err. For example, Damion’s friend refused to accept that he’d lost a small fortune. Instead of admitting his money investing mistakes, he hid them, and the financial failures continued. Nothing was learned.
“If you’re gonna be in motion, you’re gonna make mistakes.” Damion describes, as a leader, one must be willing to be bold and move forward, even in the face of adversity. Learn from mistakes and move on quickly. This top-down behavior sets a corporate standard. Employees must be confident to come forward with problems and mistakes, or a firm will never succeed.
At the end of the day, mistakes are a gift, that when accepted and acknowledged, lead to wisdom, progress, and success.
The Johari window was created by two psychologists in the mid-1950s as a tool for personal, group, and relationship development. Peter Mellen uses the Johari window as the framework for discussing how individuals and groups act, and how communication and relationships can grow.
There are four sections to the Johari window:
Peter says it is important to expand Arena in order to achieve successful relationships. The more we get to know about the other person, the stronger our relationship would become. These relationships could lead to successful results in groups. As Peter says, “As we grow Arena, we build trust stronger and more transparent relationships.”
In the Façade area Peter asks, “What does an entrepreneur choose to keep behind the façade in the realm of the hidden and why do they do it?” It could be because of the fear that if entrepreneurs expose what’s hidden, it would lead to failure. Basically, “a fake it, until you make it” mentality. The challenge for the entrepreneur in this area is to let that fear go and seek the help that’s needed.
The next area, Blind, Peter explains how we might deny our blind spots’ existence, and they can be difficult to hear about. A first reaction might be to push it away. But a better response he says is “thank you.” He suggests that we “listen generously and be willing to try it on.” It is an area for learning and personal growth.
The last area is Generative Space. Peter explains this portion by calling it our “potential” – where all the unarticulated parts of ourselves are and “where miracles happen.” It is where creation exists. He describes how this portion is our strengths and all those potential skills that we do not know about ourselves, but can discover by looking at ourselves from a different angle, or challenging ourselves to push the envelope.
Growing as an entrepreneur includes the challenge of finding our strengths and working on what we do not know about ourselves every single day. With better knowledge of ourselves and others knowing us as well, barriers are opened up and organizational relationships can grow.
Abby Robinson is Atlas Corps’ Chief Development and Engagement Officer. Atlas Corps’ mission is to “address critical social issues by developing leaders, strengthening organizations, and promoting innovation through an overseas fellowship of skilled nonprofit professionals.”
She leads behind the scenes and works one step behind the entrepreneur, but is always in step. Although “make it big” might be a phrase we normally think of as applying to the entrepreneur or top executives, when Abby says it she means, “Wherever, whenever, whoever you are, you can do your best and have an impact. I think that’s a good saying to drive one through life.” Making it big includes helping others grow as well, to be inspirational and help young people achieve.
The key to being successful for Abby is by listening to the entrepreneur’s idea and creating her own system to get his visions and thoughts on paper efficiently. Seeing the bullet points and a timeline, she can create something achievable. Consistently, and that has built the CEO’s trust. For successful communications, once three emails have gone back and forth, she believes it is time for an in-person conversation. And if she sends emails to employees on weekends, she’s mindful that it will be treated as priority unless she says otherwise, so she’s clear in setting expectations.
When you act like everything’s a crisis and there’s no prioritization, it’s easy to lose staff engagement and the focus on making it big. “Everything always seems like it’s on fire,” Abby says, “But let’s be honest. We are an organization that provides fellowship opportunities, we’re not providing direct services, we’re not emergency services, so when things are on fire, that all needs to be in perspective…” Figuring out what matters most will keep up the energy and momentum to “make it big.”
Business success, especially entrepreneurial success, is about finding the right fit for your work, while also finding a harmony with everything else that affects your work. Business success is like relationship success. Sure, it would be wonderful to find the perfect match, but sometimes it’s even better to learn how to make an imperfect match fit. Communication and understanding allow unlike people to form mutually beneficial alliances. When alliances are formed, trust is born. It’s the same with business.
Moving at the speed of trust propels businesses to flourish in a timely manner, while reinforcing and strengthening the foundations of that success.
People often ask Tendrel’s Devon Davey how to build a solid business team. Her go-to reply is: start small with the power of two. Entrepreneurs can move so quickly that they are unable to initially communicate and receive feedback from a large team. Again, to use the relationship analogy, once the trust is established between two people, others can be brought in slowly, and then more rapidly, into the mix.
Listening becomes key in business relationships. Because it’s not about who is right or wrong, but rather it’s about different neutral perspectives having a voice. Neutrality fosters workplace winning, without ego. For instance, partners have strengths you many not possess. Instead of viewing that from a competitive perspective, if their strengths can be accepted as a plus that compliments your weakness, while your strengths also shine, progress can be made without getting personal or emotional. It’s a stretch to leave ego at the door and head into that mutually beneficial magnanimous territory.
Partners, business or personal, come together for each other’s strengths, but stay together because of each other’s stretches. Stretches require solidarity, convergence, and trust. Strengths are where we are comfortable. Stretches require us to take on the unfamiliar, without self-doubt. Together, these two forces are the cornerstones of all success.
Welcome to Episode 1 of The Entrepreneur Family, a new channel focused on how entire families share in the entrepreneurial journey and how it impacts not just the entrepreneur but their loved ones as well.
Entrepreneurship requires that a risk-taking individual embark upon a journey: to launch their own business, using their own innovative ideas, in order to eventually earn a viable profit. Entrepreneur Amrit Mansahia discusses in detail with us her business journey, and the challenges she faced along the way. Specifically, she notes that most challenges are unforeseen, and only appear once the entrepreneur is already deep into the process.
Amrit Mansahia explains how one’s family is equally affected by the launch of a new business. Throughout an entrepreneur’s journey, there is more than one individual along for the ride. She says, “It is not me who is failing or succeeding; it is we.” As a spouse, both partners are on the journey together; it is a family affair.
The journey began for Amrit Mansahia when she was a graduate with an entrepreneurship bachelor’s degree, and a supportive husband by her side. They both embarked upon terrific jobs, working for others, until her husband had the idea of the spouses starting their own business. Amrit agreed, even though they had the responsibility of a new baby to also consider. Both spouses quit their jobs and began the business. Immediately, the struggles ensued: long work hours, no income, no money for basic necessities, including baby diapers. Amrit notes, “In one’s own business, there are so many tasks to complete simultaneously.” Focus and balance are very important, because every action and decision depends on and directly effects another action and decision.
Amrit Mansahia describes the entire entrepreneur journey as a rollercoaster ride, with many ups, downs, and unknowns along the way. However, in the end, she observes that having a viable company to call her own is worth the difficult journey it required, of not only her and her husband, but their entire family as well.
Small business marketing expert and entrepreneur Jim Palmer’s fifth book is entitled, “Stop waiting for it to get easier, create your dream business now!” The sentence explains itself. “There is no perfect time,” Jim says as he recounts his own experience: broke and heavily in debt, on unemployment for 15 months, suffering from a serious health issue. Jim started in a very low place, and he knows you should not wait for the time to be perfect to start your dream business.
“It’s bigger than yourself,” Jim says about the importance of creating your business. If you have an idea and the resources, you should go for what you believe you can do. Now. He makes the analogy of sand in the hourglass. Time is running out, so stop waiting and act!
Jim realizes that people are hungry for success, but you really can’t make your business successful immediately. It’s a time-consuming process, “like a pearl or stained glass, it doesn’t happen instantly,” he says. Everyone starts small and eventually they can reach their dream level. Nothing comes that easy. You have to strive to work hard to make your business a dream business.
He talks about ‘perfectionism’ - how people have the idea of having everything in a perfect way and doing everything at the perfect time. The idea of perfectionism Jim says, is a business killer: it kills momentum. Since you can’t always have the ideal time and the ideal business or the ideal workplace, this will always stop you from moving forward if you think things need to be perfect from the outset. Get over being a perfectionist, Jim advises. “Choose to be judged on the value of the content, information or service and not on the imperfect way you do it.”
Another factor to be successful at what you do? You consciously commit to stretching where you don’t want to go. “The top 1% learns to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Do the hard work others don’t do,” Jim says.
Swift decision-making is critical for success as well. Trusting your gut is one of the most important strategies that you need in your business. The main thing that you have to do is make a decision right when you are faced with a question or a problem. There is no maybe; there is no in between. What an entrepreneur needs to do is to decide with a firm yes or no. Jim explains that the ability to make decisions is like a muscle. The more you make decisions be they big or little, the more you strengthen your muscle. You are training yourself and getting better at deciding and acting effectively. And if the decision isn’t right, you can course correct.
Delegating is also something entrepreneurs or leaders have to learn to be successful. In a chapter entitled, “Delegate or stay small forever,” he explains that you need to hire smart, and train people into your culture. Then empower them to act. If you micromanage, your business can’t grow.
So act. Start that business. Make mistakes. Grow. Push yourself to realize your entrepreneurial dream.
Welcome to Episode 1 of Leading Behind the Scenes, a new channel focused on supporting those who support great leaders and entrepreneurs.
Miranda Barrett is an entrepreneur support expert with more than 10 years working with more than 400 entrepreneurs as part of the EO Global Team, and shares her insights on what it takes to be an effective leader.
Leaders often think they’re leading, but their staff is disengaged and disinterested in the overall mission. “If you think you’re leading and no one is following, you’re just out for a walk,” she says.
According to Miranda, the main trait of a good leader is someone who knows how to leverage and engage their team. “Entrepreneurs have so much energy and passion. It’s akin to an excited golden retriever,” she says. Leaders must understand how to share that excitement and vision with the team. Additionally, showing sincerity and curiosity is a crucial part of getting teams in line with their leader. She explains, “You have to admit when you’re stuck and turn to your team members to help fix the problem, instead of micromanaging. That trust is contagious and will come right back to you.”
Empowering your team through humility and vulnerability can also lead to teaching them to develop their inner leader, which, in turn, will help you reach your goals. The team needs to feel protected and supported by the leader before they’ll protect and support him or her. She recalls a situation where a supportive team led to success. “We were hosting our Global Student Entrepreneur Awards program. The team was phenomenal. My job was to make sure our emcee did the best job possible, despite last minute scheduling changes. In a very visible way, he was on the hook for anything that would have gone wrong, but he had a safety net. He looked alone but he was very, very well supported.”
Things don’t always turn out as planned. When teams don’t reach their goals, it’s important to take some time to regroup. “There’s a humility in being curious. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Was the process broken? If so, where was the breakdown? Unemotionally figuring out what happened and where, instead of immediately blaming your team is a crucial part of maintaining that trust,” she says.
Having a team of “yes-men” may mean that your team members don’t feel open enough to voice their opinions. A disengaged team can be just as bad as an incompetent one. “When you have people proactively looking ahead of you to help and feel safe making suggestions? That’s when you can be sure that your team wants to be there,” she says. Conversely, if your team isn’t making suggestions, they may not feel comfortable speaking up. People who follow like leaders help push each other to grow and be better.
Finding ways to draw the honesty out of your team ensures its health. Miranda suggests that leaders find “fun and inventive” ways to get honest feedback from team members that may not feel comfortable opening up. Miranda recalls a company that was opening a store in China. In a meeting, the team assured their managers everything was on schedule to open on time. However, after the managers let the team place bets on when they thought the store would actually open, they found out that no one on the team thought that making the deadline was possible. The store ended up not opening for months.
Provide a safe environment, and people will speak up.
The title says it all: Think Big, Start Small. This is the philosophy behind many accomplishments and dreams that individuals and entrepreneurs bring to fruition.
Every big endeavor requires a step-by-step process of achievement. Innovative ideas are the big picture, each step turns that idea into reality is the small. Thinking big keeps eyes focused on the prize. Small achievements along the way are their own mini-prizes.
Andrew Davis shares his big dream story in today’s interview. From the time he was a child, Andrew wanted to work for the Jim Henson Company, with their famous characters, the Muppets. He began by doing magic tricks; he worked his way up to performing little puppet shows. Andrew dedicated three years to skills practice, and wrote thirty-six job query letters to the Jim Henson Company, letters he sent every month. He finally received notice. With no contacts and no formal idea how to achieve his dream, Andrew managed to land an interview. This is a real example of how to think big and start small!
As Andrew explains, success is achieved by breaking down goals. The big plan may seem impossible to others, but if each small step is clear and consistent, support increases. As Andrew notes, “Consistency is important to achieving big ideas.” That’s what he did. He stayed consistent and kept the rhythm.
Breville is another dream big, start small and achieve company. Breville sells kitchen appliances and juicers. Their dream was to sell more juicers. They did so by targeting overweight 40-year-old men via a 90-minute documentary film called, “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.” They partnered with food companies and movie theaters and sold so many juicers that Breville ran out of juicers to sell!
As Andrew says, “A rising tide lifts off ships.” It’s a clear depiction of how small steps can give rise to think BIG dreams and ambitions.