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Tally Team to Task

Does your team match the job at hand?
Thanos Papadimitriou

Every start-up thinks the activity of an organization as the process of sourcing, securing, allocating, assembling, managing, and scaling human and material resources into business capabilities.

Smart entrepreneurs are like accountants, they match the duration of their assets and liabilities, both financial and human.

No one can do it alone. Sooner or later entrepreneurs have to enlist additional team members to execute existing tasks so that they can focus on new, higher value initiatives.

Four things to think about when you are building your team are as follows:

1. Fill in the gaps

A complementary partner is the most important asset available to an entrepreneur. A partner is an additional set of eyes, a sounding board and a reality check-the person whom you trust to tell you when you are wrong. Finding the right candidates begins with honest self-examination. Compare your capabilities to those needed to succeed to find the gaps. Entrepreneurs would be wise to apply the same analysis to every addition they make to the team. 

2. Get started with what you have, but upgrade relentlessly

Most entrepreneurs lack the resources or track record needed to attract qualified candidates, and thus rarely have the pick of the litter when hiring. That’s ok. Part of being an entrepreneur is learning to make it work with what you have. That said, remember that difference between “A” and “B” players is not one notch, it’s 100x fold. Covering an empty position for a few weeks sounds horrendous but keeping an inept person in a critical position is crippling. The ambiguity and lag time makes it all the more important to act decisively. Immediately saddling new team members with actionable and measurable tasks can help to uncover subpar hires sooner.  

3. Plan for roles to change

This means making it clear to early hires they are filling temporary needs. Make short (six month) commitments, which include flexibility for role changes as needed.

4. Hire for the job at hand

Many start-ups mistakenly hire a professional VP of Sales before finishing the product, much less validating demand for it. Not only is it expensive to have a VP of Sales sitting around before there are customers to sell to (you, the founder, are in charge of evangelical sales, remember?), anyone worth their salt wouldn’t come to work in your basement anyway. It’s just not worth their time yet.

Posted in: Entrepreneur, Work Culture

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To be known or unknown

Everyone does something. Some do what they ought to. Some what they like. Some do it for pleasure. Some do it for profit. Some do it quietly. Some make a noise about what they do. Some are known for what they do. Some do, but are hardly known. Some do it with a purpose. Some do it without knowing why they are doing it.

Different folks, different strokes!

A passionate teacher works tirelessly, sometimes for a pittance and sees many students reach great heights. They prosper financially, make a name for themselves and are remembered more than the one who taught them the foundation principles.

A small actor from a town’s street play group performing for social awareness makes it big on the silver screen. Though doing meaningless roles, he becomes immensely popular, starts making big bucks and hits the headlines.

If you look around, you will find that these are not isolated cases but some of the many that you will come across.

The tough question is what do you aim, desire or be satisfied with. The teacher could definitely do with some recognition and of course money. The passionate, driven by a larger purpose of social awareness would welcome better achievement of their objectives and some better conditions for themselves too.

Like people there are many brands in the marketplace which face similar dilemmas in their journey. Should they aim at popularity, recognition or focus on what they have to. Should they look to more profitable avenues or continue in their areas of strength.

Honestly, there are no clear cut answers. If there were, then the world would not have the various shades of grey that makes up the landscape.

However, conventional wisdom does teach us that fame, popularity and financial gains should not be the sole guiding forces of any journey. They are by-products.

The teacher does what he does because he is qualified to do something, enjoys what he does and is happy for what compensation it provides. The actors driven by the passion to make a difference do what they do, enjoy their purpose, drive satisfaction and the compensation is incidental.

If people enjoy what they do, why they do, and what compensation they get from it, it bothers little to them if someone else is getting something which they aren’t. They understand that some vocations allow people to be more visible, some don’t and people are willing to pay more for some things even though they may not be of as great a purpose as theirs.

Many organizations especially in the B2B segment are doing a great job, and are in fact extremely profitable too, but are hardly known outside their industry. On the other hand small players who need to make themselves noticeable are well known to the general public even though their operations are a fraction. Both need the maturity to understand that popularity is not the litmus test for what they are doing.

However, there is something that the people can do in their evaluation process. On their part they too can understand that mere awareness or visibility of a brand is not what matters. They can put into their minds an evaluation matrix that will then put what people do, why they do, and what they get for it, in the right perspective.

Would that change your perception? Try it.

Posted in: Branding, Work Culture

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Take It or Get It

Can you get something without wanting it? If you do manage to get it, what will you do with it? Will it mean anything to you or will you start looking at it differently once you get it.

Knowledge, learning, mentoring, direction, and development are some things that people expect to get from a Master or a Guru. The question however remains, ‘Do you have to take it?’ or ‘Do you have to get it?’

Knowledge is ubiquitous. People looking for it have found it from the most unsuspecting sources. Some have sought it and some have stumbled upon it. The key has been the desire, the hunger or the absolute need that has driven people. Yes, many people have become what they are all by themselves.

Self-suggestion makes you master of yourself. – W. Clement Stone

The essence of self-development lies in the two words that define it. Self and Development. You take it upon yourself to develop yourself and do everything you can towards that purpose.

However, a lifetime may not be enough to achieve what lies inside you if you were to work all by yourself. So in the journey you discover many people who help you discover more of yourself and achieve more.

A slave has but one master. An ambition man has as many, as there are people who helped him get his fortune. – Wilson Mizner

As the journey progresses one realizes that life is all about learning from others. And while there’s a lot to learn you do need someone to guide you, show you the path and bring light in the areas of darkness.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. – Buddha

So, we are back to the same question. Do you take it? or Do you get it?

Liberation is not anywhere outside you. It is only within. If a man is anxious for deliverance, the internal Guru (Master) pulls him in and the external Guru pushes him into the Self. This is the grace of the Guru. – Ramana Maharshi

A true master can at the most only inspire you to live your being…live in your light – Swami Rajneesh

We teachers can only help the work going on, as servants wait upon a master. – Maria Montessori

The guru cannot awaken you; all that he can do is to point out what is. – Jiddu Krishnamurti

I hope all these words of the masters are a testimony that you have to take it. I hope we get it.

Posted in: Motivational, Work Culture

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Talent

The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind
Barbara Strauch

“Can I still compete?”

It’s a question many of us increasingly ask as we reach middle age.

We watch younger colleagues master new computer systems with ease or pull all-nighters with nary a hair out of place and — quite naturally — we’re concerned.

Luckily, recent research in brain science suggests that perhaps we should fret less.

Over the past few years, neuroscientists have begun to zero in on the brain’s changes in middle age, and what they’ve found is encouraging. Results of long-term studies show that — contrary to stereotypes — we actually grow smarter in key areas in middle age which, with longer life spans, now stretches from our mid 40s to our mid to late 60s.

In areas as diverse as vocabulary and inductive reasoning, our brains function better than they did in our 20s. As we age, we more easily get the “gist” of arguments. Even our judgment of others improves. Often, we simply “know” if someone — or some idea — is to be trusted. We also get better at knowing what to ignore and when to hold our tongues.

Not long ago, a mid-level executive told me how he’d recently changed the way he deals with younger colleagues. When gathered to discuss a problem, he keeps his “mouth shut” and listens. Even though — more often than not — he has a good solution, he waits. He does not speak.

“I find it works best if I let the younger workers talk first, wrestle with the problem in their own way,” he told me. “Then after a while, I say what I think might work. I’m not sure why, but this seems to work best and to help us all learn and solve the problem better.”

In fact, though he did not realize it, the executive was using the best parts of his calmer and more experienced middle-aged brain to help him manage his situation — and get better results.

It’s true that by midlife our brains can show some fraying. Brain processing speed slows down. Faced with new information, we often cannot master it as quickly as our younger peers. And there’s little question that our short-term memories suffer. It’s easy to panic when you find you can’t remember the name of that person you know in the elevator, or even the movie you saw last week.

But it turns out that such skills don’t really matter that much. By midlife our brains have developed a whole host of talents that are, in the end, just as well suited to navigating the modern, complex workplace. As we age, we get better at seeing the possible. Younger brains, predictably, are set up to focus on the negative and potential trouble. Older brains, studies show, often reach solutions faster, in part, because they focus on what can be done.

By the time we reach middle age, millions of patterns have been established in our brains, and these connected pathways provide invaluable perspective — even when it’s subconscious. For instance, some middle-aged managers I’ve spoken with talked about how solutions seem to “pop” into their heads “like magic.”

It doesn’t come from magic, of course, but from the very real — and often unappreciated — talents of our middle-aged brains.

Posted in: Motivational, Work Culture

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Theory of Work Culture

Demystifying the complexity of team behavior

Based on an actual experiment conducted in U.K.

Put eight monkeys in a room. In the middle of the room is a ladder, leading to a bunch of bananas hanging from a hook on the ceiling.

Each time a monkey tries to climb the ladder all the monkeys are sprayed with ice water, which makes them miserable. Soon enough, whenever a monkey attempts to climb the ladder, all of the other monkeys, not wanting to be sprayed, set upon him and beat him up.

Soon, none of the eight monkeys ever attempts to climb the ladder. One of the original monkeys is then removed, and a new monkey is put in the room. Seeing the bananas and the ladder, he wonders why none of the other monkeys are doing the obvious. But undaunted, he immediately begins to climb the ladder. All the other monkeys fall upon him and beat him silly. He has no idea why. However, he no longer attempts to climb the ladder.

A second original monkey is removed and replaced. The newcomer again attempts to climb the ladder, but all the other monkeys hammer the crap out of him. This includes the previous new monkey, who, grateful that he’s not on the receiving end this time, participates in the beating because all the other monkeys are doing it. However, he has no idea why he’s attacking the new monkey.

One by one, all the original monkeys are replaced. Eight new monkeys are now in the room. None of them have ever been sprayed by ice water. None of them attempt to climb the ladder. All of them will enthusiastically beat up any new monkey who tries, without having any idea why.

This is how any company’s work culture gets established.

Posted in: Motivational, Work Culture

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