If there is one thing that I have come to learn, accept, and expect throughout my life, it’s that, whether in a personal or professional capacity, people will experience what I call, “life’s resets”. In fact, people will experience many of them and in some cases cause them. Basically – this is something that throws your whole world upside down – a S.E.E. (significant emotional experience), if you will. Often, these are things that you cannot prepare for. As one of my favorite song lyrics go, “The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.”
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!
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!