A True Entrepreneur Wants All the Smoke
“Take it down a notch.”
That’s the feedback I would constantly receive early on in my career. To be honest, I didn’t completely understand it, but it still felt like something was wrong with me. I desperately wanted to change, but because I was young, I couldn’t figure out what needed to change. While I always thought I was a good communicator, certain people just didn’t like working with me.
Here’s something you should know about me: I was (and still am) naturally energized and focused when I’m at work. My business partners would remark that I was always “on.” I didn’t know how to tone down that energy, so while these coworkers absolutely loved me as a person, working with me was different.
I took everything seriously when it came to business. I cared too much. I was fun to be around, but I always wanted to make sure we were accomplishing everything we possibly could. I expected a lot from others I worked with, and I expected more from myself. As I matured, I finally realized that there was a common “something” that was at the root of it all.
I love the challenges. I love the process. I love going after what other people believe can’t be done. I welcome the impossible, but beyond that, there is one real difference that separates me from anyone else in the field.
The More My Business Succeeds, The More Everyone Gets to Eat
My attitude may have rubbed some people the wrong way, but I believe that it was because they didn’t see the reasons why I was pushing so hard. I was passionate about their well-being, and that tied into the back-end decisions, the executive reasoning, and the pay discussions that they never got to see.
Maybe this mentality comes from my entrepreneurial youth. I made more money per week at age 13 than my friends’ parents with full-time jobs, and I was able to create little teams for different “businesses.” While a lot has changed since then, I’ve always believed that people perform best when they do not have to worry about money, and I’ve carried that outlook from childhood to adulthood. I have never been one to underpay so that myself or my business partners could go splurge on superficial items. My idea of splurging was over-paying my team.
81% of Americans believe that they don’t make enough money, and 60% of those people believe an extra $6,000 per year would make them happy. Although I’ve never said this out loud to my team, for the last 15 years, it’s been my goal to get them that extra $6,000 by working with me—not by working extra hours, just from the jobs that we would take on.
Taking things “too seriously” was a byproduct of truly loving what I do and wanting to do what’s best for the people on my team. While it’s always been enjoyable to me, I know that not everyone looks at their job as a career. Sometimes it’s simply a necessity to pay the bills. I learned that regardless of the money I paid out, if I didn’t surround myself with the right team—people with the right mindset and who have invested themselves into their professional growth—that I wouldn’t have the ability to be the best that I could be.
Build Your Dream Team, and You Can’t Fail
Once I realized that I had been surrounding myself with the wrong kind of people at work, I made the choice to implement the following practices into my professional life:
- I dropped all expectations that I had for people.
- I started building my teams based on the person, not their talent or experience.
- I started letting people go sooner if the culture fit wasn’t right.
When you have no expectations, you are never let down. I hired people who had high expectations for themselves. Then if someone just didn’t fit, I would fire them. I didn’t drag it out through a long process or let it affect the workplace culture and the rest of my team. I’d just decide and move on.
I turned the part of my personality that so many people viewed as a negative into something positive that flourished with the right team to back me up. I learned that my energetic approach—the confidence, bravado, and passion that I had been criticized for in the past—puts all of the attention and responsibility on me. This is when everything clicked.
This is the Difference-Maker
I don’t crumble under pressure. I don’t dodge the bullet and let someone else get hit. Everything is my fault. Even when something is not technically my fault, I still consider the things I could have done differently to stop that mistake from happening.
I want all the blame.
I want to take away the fear that most people have about losing their job and carry it on my shoulders. Make a mistake? Make a bad decision? Fail? Great—now don’t pout. There’s nothing to worry about. Get out there, and do it again.
By providing my team with the best possible compensation and removing the fear of losing their job for making a mistake, I created an environment that encourages everyone to be the best professional that they could be. At this point, I didn’t come off as excessively passionate anymore because that passion was now part of the culture that we created. Everyone wants to force culture, like it’s an easy thing that can just be fixed or change with a few simple tweaks. However, when you organically build an incredible culture through the people you bring onto your team and your ability to lead them through their mistakes, your business can’t fail.
So, morning, afternoon, night, weekend, whatever it may be—I want all the smoke.
That’s the difference.