At the foundation of any real relationship, whether personal or professional, is trust. In fact, a relationship itself cannot sustain or survive without it. Imagine asking a friend for a favor and not trusting in the fact that they would actually deliver – what’s the point of asking in the first place? Or, in a business transaction, when you verbally agree upon terms – if you don’t trust the other party to honor their commitment, why would you want to do business with them? It’s a pretty straightforward concept to get your head around.
Recently, I took some time out and watched the movie Moneyball. For those of you don’t know the story, it’s predicated on the thesis that a player’s ability to get on base is far more valuable then their ability to hit home runs. Accordingly, for every player that gets on base, it’s guaranteed that the 4th player is equal to a point (e.g. players on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd – in order for the 4th player to get on base, the player on 3rd base has to come in and score a point and the other two players rotate to the next base thereby vacating 1st base for the 4th player. The process repeats and points get accumulated).
Once the words of our founding forefathers, today, “We the People” has taken on a completely different meaning in my life. In lieu of the recent “Occupy” activities that have been occurring, it really begins to showcase how powerful people, when united around a collective effort, can actually be.
While some of these activities were much before my time, including the Berkeley “sit ins” and equal rights marches for African Americans, it laid the foundation for what we are witnessing today – not just in America, but also all over the world. Ironically, it never surprises me how history has a way of repeating itself!
At some point in every manager’s career, there comes a time when you will need to terminate someone’s employment. Typically, this situation falls into one of two categories – a corporate layoff due to cost cutting / restructuring or letting an employee go for performance-related issues. Regardless of the reason, it’s a difficult situation that requires careful planning and execution, compassion, and, for legal reasons, brevity.
The challenge in letting people go is acknowledging the fact that it’s not personal and doing your best to remain cognizant of that throughout the process. Now, while I understand this is easy to “write”, I am very well aware of the fact that work becomes personal for many people. Further, for many people, some of their closet relations have formed through their work so, again when I say, it’s technically not personal, I recognize that it very much is.
In fact, given today’s naturally stressful work environment, vacations are important to help get recharged so you can continue to push forward and climb the corporate ladder.
Recently, I was attending a session at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, where I am a class mentor, and we were talking about new venture opportunities. Specially, after you have gone through the screening process of identifying your next venture, you have to identify your sustainable competitive advantage and how that will map to your grand strategy.
Unfortunately, what I find is that many (inexperienced) entrepreneurs’ don’t place enough emphasis on this – partially because they believe, given what they are doing, it may not be that important and, in many cases, don’t really comprehend what a competitive advantage really is and what it can do for a company.
This is a question that I have given thought to repeatedly over the years. You have good, hard working people who join a good company and, over time, the relationship between the two changes. That doesn’t necessarily imply things are bad, but just different. The result, unfortunately in many cases, is that the real loss is felt by the company losing the talent and not by the individual losing the company because that prominent individual is very capable to securing a new position elsewhere.
This is clearly evident by the lack of good talent available in the market today and why, in many cases, there are bidding wars on the limited talent pool. If you are in Silicon Valley – I’d like to see you find a great software programmer – go on… find one that is just sitting idle waiting for your call!
Of the many, many, many questions entrepreneurs must ask themselves, one of the most critical is “Who is my customer?” Without understanding who your customer is, you cannot begin to perform other important tasks such as market research, building a value chain, conducting user experience studies, buyer behavior analysis, cost of acquisition information, etc. Heck – if you haven’t determined who your customer really is – why are you even getting into business?
So…who is your customer?
I was introduced to the “Law of the Process” by John Maxwell – respected management and leadership guru through his book (which I highly recommend for anyone interested in this subject matter), the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Of the many valuable lessons contained within the book, one of the most important in my opinion is, in fact, the Law of the Process.
With reference to the book, it places the law strictly in the context of leadership. However, to extrapolate the meaning behind the law – you’ll understand that it’s widely applicable to many facets of life.