“This is your life. Do what you love with those you love and do it often.”
After a casual ride through miles of bumper to bumper traffic—half the wheels means half the travel time—I arrived at my favorite cafe for a late afternoon meeting. Having met in this cafe a few weeks back, Matt and I were continuing our conversation about culture.
His consultancy develops and scales culture within startups. While this initial description might not seem all too compelling, his client list most certainly is. Evolution—a company Matt cofounded—works with organizations like Slack, Snapchat, and Change.org. Just a few world changing entities with billion dollar valuations asking him for support.
Why are Matt’s perspectives on culture so valuable?
As Matt explained to me, cultural reinvigoration within the large organizations he works with carries the power to dramatically scale existing revenues. In the context of a startup however, cultural mistakes made early on kill companies.
As Jim M. shared last week,
My younger sister and I launched [COMPANY NAME] in early 2015. It turns out she was seeking more of a hobby whereas I am trying to build a company that I can sell to one of the big meal kit companies in 2-3 years. We amicably split and I gave her 5% founder’s share.
Jim made a very smart decision to part ways with a partner who had a different vision for their future and acted on it when the—emotional and financial—stakes were low. A business partnership is just as important as a life partnership, the rules are often the same. Why else do you think I’m so obsessed with dating? Working with the PrimeMind team as a consultant was—as David put it—a five month long interview. We were dating.
Hiring the wrong team member has the same ability to damage your potential, as does tying the knot with a partner and their conflicting vision. Partnerships and hiring decisions shouldn’t be made because they can be made, but rather because they should be.
It’s not my intention to play Nostradamus, there is a solution.
Take things slow. I see people making unreasonably frantic decisions to partner, hire, or expand because I spent years making those same mistakes. Only recently—after a messy divorce with the partner that sparked my move to Los Angeles—did I start reflecting on my past to foster change. Too often I was doing things because I could not because I should.
Most of these decisions were based in a state of fear. In many of the scenarios on which I reflected, I was essentially looking for a savior. In the most recent instance, I had escaped a bad partner by buying his shares, brought on a client that screwed me out of a not-so-insignificant amount of money, and was faced with the wave of debt that followed. I (eventually) took responsibility for my role, but I never (truly) stopped to absorb the lesson.
I met someone at a conference in Mexico, they flew me to Los Angeles two weeks later, and we “partnered” two weeks after that (which involved me moving west). My gut feeling was to pass, but my fear prompted me to agree. The opportunity to externalize my sense of security was too compelling at the time and I neglected to investigate the reality.
The five months I was working with PrimeMind, I was making more money than I ever have in my career. Collectively it was a mix of multiple consulting clients, commissions of clients referred to colleagues, and memberships from Ghost Influence. I channeled 100% of my focus into my work and 100% of the profits into my debt. It felt rather magnificent.
When David asked me to join PrimeMind, it was the first time I was answering from a place of confidence and strength. Having worked with him and the rest of the team for several months, I ultimately was able to make the (informed) decision that I should have made.
As my ‘2016 Goals’ have stated from within their frame on my wall:
Stop answering “can I” questions, only answer “will I” questions.
Can I do your facebook ads? Yes. Will I do your facebook ads? No.
Can I make your viral video? Yes. Will I make your viral video? No.
Can I be an affiliate for your product? Yes. Will I be an affiliate? No.
Those are all things I have done so I know I can do them, but I won’t. I stopped answering yes to those questions because they don’t align with my goals. It’s better for me and for you if I refer you to a colleague with that specialty (and it makes me friends in the process).
As Derek Sivers said, “Remove ‘yes’ from your dictionary. It’s ‘fuck yes’ or ‘no’.”
Who in your life is a part of your culture? Who do you need to let go?