Thursday, July 15, 2010

Advanced Entrepreneurship: Teaming Up for Success

Advanced Entrepreneurship: Teaming Up for Success
The post above is the third in a series on Advanced Entrepreneurship and what distinguishes a great entrepreneur from a good one, by by Stever Robbins. Would any one have pegged this writer [ Norah] big mouthed, left wing, radical butt pain as a reader of the Harvard Business School review? Not bloody likely. But here I am posting a link [above] to a blog from the "B" school about team building and entrepreneurship ( is this even a word?) How mighty are the fallen? Fear not, comrades! I only study the Man's tools to work smart and bring down the Man. Anyway, I like the "socialist" leanings of the Get-It-Done-Guy and see valuable insights in what he has to say about teams and start ups:
A major part of a CEO's job is building and keeping the team together. Mastering this skill is especially important for CEOs of start-ups. When resources are scarce, you need to make sure everyone's working together, to avoid wasted effort or scattered focus. For example, several college friends founded a tech start-up their senior year, but they paid no attention to learning to work as a team. As a result, the marketing VP simply did what she thought made sense. Too bad it didn't correspond to what the product developer was creating. As team members executed independently what they considered best, they began to butt heads. Ultimately, while they fought and squandered the company's resources, their competitor came out with a strongly marketed, tightly developed product — one that put them in the market-leading position previously held by the start-up.
Good entrepreneurs focus first on building a strong executive team. This process begins with hiring. CEOs of start-ups must find the right people with the right skills and get them excited enough to sign on, despite not being able to offer them much money and the uncertainty of success. Recruiting under these circumstances has the happy side effect of building a team that's emotionally committed to the job.
Of course, emotional commitment brings with it strong opinions, and sometimes these opinions clash. As team leader, the CEO is charged with ensuring that personalities among the senior team members mesh and is responsible for mediating any conflicts that arise.
It also falls on the CEO to keep the senior team motivated. Team members were hired for their intrinsic motivation, so this largely means pointing them in the right direction (or letting them help set that direction) and getting out of their way.

mass is a kind of "start up" and we are building a good team to really get moving on some exciting projects. So I am studying up on all kinds of models to help us make headway in the big wide world. In the world of storytelling, we have many models that show us to how to do things in a small, careful and unobtrusive way. At, we are working on how to take risks, be noticed if not loud and work effectively. We are planning to raise the role of storytelling back into the larger world of culture and art. And oh yeah, by doing so, we hope to make our livings doing this important and creative work.

And besides I started clicking around at the "B" School Review blogs and I found this article: 10 Reasons to Stop Apologizing for Your Online Life
IRL: In Real Life. It's used as shorthand all over the Internet, to distinguish what happens online from what happens offline.
And it's a lie.
If we still refer to the offline world as "real life," it's only a sign of deep denial — or unwarranted shame — about what reality looks like in the 21st century.
The Internet's impact on our daily lives, experiences and relationships is real. Our world is deeply affected by networks. From the moment you wake up to news that was gathered online to the minute you fall asleep listening to a podcast, the Internet shapes how you experience the world around you. From the lunch date you make with your BFF ("r u free 4 lunch 2day?") to the colleagues your company recruited online, the Internet shapes who you interact with. And from the boss who fills you in on a Twitter rumor to the kid who fills you in on her Facebook activities, the Internet shapes how you interact with them.

All the above verbiage was good, and helpful but this article was even better: 
Why Friends Matter at Work and in Life by Peter Bregman
Susan Harrison, my mother in law, died several months ago after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Like most of us, she was not famous. If you didn't know her you probably didn't know of her. She lived in the relatively small community of Savannah, Georgia.
Yet she did some amazing things there — she was the first ordained woman Deacon in Georgia, she founded a soup kitchen, and she helped create the Savannah Homeless Authority. In addition to raising three children and, some would say, a husband.
One of the problems we faced after her death was finding a church big enough to hold the people who wanted to attend her funeral. We picked the largest one we could find, with seating for 600, and still many had to stand in the back and along the aisles.
Susan had a particular quality that drew people in. It wasn't her accomplishments. It wasn't money. She had no access to famous or important people. She couldn't hire you; she wasn't a stepping stone.
Susan was, quite simply, a really good friend.
Which is an art. To be a good friend, you have to give of yourself, but not so much that you lose yourself. You need to know what you want and pursue it, while helping others achieve what they want. You need to have personality while making room for, and supporting, other people's personalities. You need to care about, and even love, people you might disagree with (I'm pretty sure she didn't vote for the same candidates as her husband). You need to be willing to give at least as much, if not more, than you take.
This is a pretty predictable recipe for happiness. Giving to others — a reliable way of fostering friendships — makes us happier than taking things for ourselves. According to research led by Dr. Elizabeth Dunn at the University of British Columbia, money can buy happiness . . . as long as you spend it on other people.
Researchers conducted three studies. First, they surveyed more than 600 Americans and found that spending money on gifts and charities led to greater happiness than spending money on oneself.
Then they looked at workers who had just received bonuses and found that their happiness was not based on the size of their bonus but on the decision they made about what to do with whatever amount of money they received. Those who spent more of their bonus on others were happier than those who spent the money on themselves.
Finally, the researchers simply gave money to a number of people, instructing some to spend the money on themselves and others to spend the money on others. At the end of the day, the ones who spent money on others were happier.
So having friends and treating them generously is clearly a winning strategy in life. But what about business?
If you watch even a single episode of any reality TV show based on a competition — The Apprentice, Survivor, Top Chef, America's Next Top Model, The Bachelor, The Amazing Race; it doesn't matter which — you'll hear a single phrase come up more often than any other:
"I'm not here to make friends!"
If you want to see what I mean — and just for the fun of it — watch this short YouTube video compilation. Apparently many of the contestants believe that in order to win you can't be worried about how you affect others. As one contestant on The Apprentice so eloquently said, "We're not here to make friends. It's nothing personal. This is f**king business." Is that true? Are we better off being cutthroat than collaborative?
Well, let's look at the data. If you're looking for a job you'd better have friends. The number-one way people find new jobs is referrals by friends.
Once you're on the job, having a best friend at work is a strong predictor of success. People might define "best" loosely (think of this as kindergarten where you can have more than one "best" friend), but according to a Gallup Organization study of more than 5 million workers over 35, 56% of the people who say they have a best friend at work are engaged, productive, and successful while only 8% of the ones who don't are.
And another remarkable study, spanning decades, revealed that friendships in high school were a strong predictor of increased wages in adulthood — to the tune of 2% per person who considered you a close friend. In other words, if in high school three people listed you as one of their closest same-sex friends, your earnings in adulthood would be 6% higher.
Want to stay in that job you have? Then you'd better have friends. As a friend of mine who runs sales for a successful technology company told me recently, "People try hard not to fire their friends. It's the difference between 'he's a good guy' and 'I don't know about that guy."
The happy truth is that the people who say they're not here to make friends don't win. That's true for reality TV. It's true for business. And it's true for life.
During Susan's last few days she was surrounded at all hours by her family and friends. During those moments she managed to get some advice out. Among her parting words? "Surround yourself with a loving community."
In other words, it's a pretty good bet that we really are here to make friends

'Nuff said, friendship trumps competition -- the Harvard Business School sez so. Avanti Populo!

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