A little while back Gary Vaynerchuk, who I greatly respect in terms of understanding culture, threw out an opportunity for pretty much anyone to schedule a phone call with him. I threw my name in the hat and forgot about it after a few weeks had passed. Then I got an email from Gary’s assistant asking me if I was ‘available tomorrow’ for a 15 minute chat with Gary. I wasn’t technically available, but Gary V was calling so I made it happen. Our team was off site for a two day retreat on a ranch somewhere deep in the heart of Texas. To my surprise the T-Mobile came through and I had connectivity.
I had pitched to Gary that I wanted to pick his brain about the relationship between creatives and ‘type A’ business minded people.
I told him my story of how throughout my career, projects and business dealings I had leveraged my ideas and creativity to make money and grow organizations for ‘type A’ people but time and time again was not content with the imbalance of reward coming my way for my efforts. I knew intrinsically that these two personality types need each other to accomplish great things but more often than not, the creative got the short end of the stick; think Tesla and Edison.
Here are some of the highlights from our brief chat:
As an idea person, artist and creative you often live inside your own mind a lot. We have to balance that with actually executing on those ideas. How you execute is different for everyone, but a big part of that is having a more ‘type a’ or driven person to pull the ideas out of you.
For the type A; you have to learn to trust the creative and learn how to build boundaries around them so they have a sandbox to play in. Make that space too constrained and you will run them off or paralyze them.
At the end of the day, you need someone to balance your strengths and fill in for your weaknesses.
This is a hard one for me having been burned by more than one cult of personality. Neither the artist or the type A can operate in their strength when trust isn’t there. If the artist doesn’t trust the type A then the best ideas never come to light. If the type A doesn’t trust the artist then micromanagement will destroy any progress.
When an artist is fully in their sweet spot they live in a reality that is literally a polar opposite from the type A and the same goes the other way. There are times when you both need to throttle back and sync up in a space and time that has a common language and substrate for you to make progress an execute. When you’re trying to lead in your strengths you are often much farther in the future than those you’re trying to lead. The artist is so in love with their ideas they can push them too hard and the type A can be so passionate about hustle that they get tunnel vision.
Gary said to me;
“The world has changed. It hasn’t changed as much as you think it has but it has changed more than they think it has.”
This came at a good time for me as I was heavily in a phase of future planning and working on strategy for our team…and I tend to live too far in the future for most people.
So there’s Ikea, minding their own business one day and someone discovers that a trace amount of horse meat is found in meatballs served at their cafe. I never knew Ikea even served food; do you have to assemble it yourself there at the cafe?
Ikea probably isn’t known for their food nor do they depend on it to have a thriving business model, after all they sell furniture. Yet a lack of transparency from one of their venders, who probably accounts for an immeasurably small line on the Ikea balance sheet, was found to have used horse meat in meatballs supplied to Ikea.
And in a flash Ikea has a PR fire to deal with.
Transparency is everything in our new, real time, communication world. Your organization simply does not have the resources or the power to control the message the way you once did in years past.
The only thing you can control about the message is how transparent you are and in that transparency you better have a good message because we can see right through you.
The old adage; sell for what the market will bear just doesn’t ring true anymore. No longer can you and your team scheme and strategize for how to game your ‘target’ into acting on your pitch. You have to have a real story that provides people with real value, because if word gets out you’re trying to slip one by, game over.
I’m speaking on freedom this week and I’ve gone down a couple of rabbit trails in my studies and I’ve come back full circle to an issue that I’ve always been passionate about; balancing your time.
Time management has become a joke in the United States. It has become a virtue to be completely red lined all the time. We fear taking a break and someone think we are slacking and not ‘carrying our weight’ at the office. We rush from one appointment to the next and we are sure to fill the time it takes to walk down the hall with a phone call to tell someone we’ll be late for that thing later on.
Sure busyness can come in seasons, I do my share of 90 hour workweeks every once in a while, but as a lifestyle? This needs to change.
“Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.”
I truly believe most people are overly busy because they are uncertain about what their value is in their job, their social circles or even their own family. Or maybe they are certain and they want something different so they are scrambling to find what ever that is.
When was the last time someone asked you to hang out tonight and you said yes… on the spot? If you are operating at capacity at all times then there is no way you can adapt to change in a meaningful way and without stress.
I don’t have all the answers but I can tell you this; I feel like I have plenty of time to react to the lives of those close to me and respond with presence instead of empty panic
Is your value at work your time or is it your talent? I’m not saying one is better than the other, it’s just how your pay scale is measured. If you work in manufacturing or some sort of production environment where you crank out widgets, then your value is time and it should be easy for you to switch off at the end of the day and be present. If, like me, you’re paid because of your talents, gifts and mind then it can be a little more difficult to turn off at the end of each day (or week). After all, I’m paid to be me and I can’t turn me off; my mind fires 24/7.
I’ve battled the sleepless nights and the half present dinners with my family and over the years I’ve learned how to separate my job from my life. I’ve not perfected anything, to be sure, but I have learned a few things along the way.
I would never call myself a morning person but I have found when it comes to the task oriented stuff that I need to do, like writing and replying to email, I find that I get it done best between the hours of 6AM and 10AM. I think my mind is at it’s freshest during this part of the day even though my body isn’t super excited about it. I prefer to go to a coffee shop for an espresso and breakfast rather than the office. I can get more medial tasks done in these 4 un-interrupted hours than I can in 8 hours in a busy office.
On a perfect day I’ll take ‘lunch’ after this block of work and get my workout in. I’ll go into the office at 12:00 where I’ll do all the office type stuff; meetings, phone calls, another block of email and random tasks.
When I’m not working, I stay out of the office so I can be present in the part of life that matters most; my family and friends. About a year and a half ago I stopped pushing email to my phone and I can say that it has been one of the best things I’ve ever done for my life and marriage in terms of time management. When I share this with people I often hear a response like; “I could never do that” or “That sounds like a great idea but I’d get fired”. Would you get fired if you didn’t stand next to your physical mailbox at the office? EMAIL IS NOT A REAL TIME COMMUNICATION PLATFORM!!!! We have let it become so and it is single handedly tearing people’s lives apart. If someone needs to get a hold of me no, they can call. I also refrain from checking email when I’m off work and I certainly never send or reply to work email in off work hours even at times when I’m pulling a late nighter working on a project; which can come in seasons and even I can’t avoid it from time to time.
Assuming there is a bulk of your job that you like to do (if there isn’t, get a new job); there is likely things in your job that you don’t like or you’re not good at and don’t want to be. I like to assassinate these ‘medial’ tasks early in my week so I can finish strong doing what I’m good at and what I love to do. This is what Monday is for me. When I’m asked to get something done that is medial, I push it to Monday so I’m sure to stay in my wheelhouse the rest of the week. Monday is often one of my longer days in the 11-12 hour range, but it makes it so I can breath easy and get on with what I feel I’m good at and what is likely to give me life.
Busy begets Busy. Stay away from hyper-busy people. I’m referring to the social part of life; in work you have to do what you have to do to get things done. Not in your real life. I remember the first time I became aware of the concept of ‘play date’ earlier in our parenthood. My first thought was; “If I have to schedule time for play then you and I are likely not friends, our lives clearly do not intersect enough to be friends“. This doesn’t mean I don’t like you or don’t want to be your friend, we just don’t have enough in common either geographically, affinity or schedule wise. Don’t take it personal.
If you can’t develop life giving relationships naturally right outside your front door or in your every day life, you need to reconsider both what you do and where you live. Overly busy people are chasing after an existence that is different than the one they’re in so don’t get too attached to them, they’re on their way to the ‘bigger better deal’; or they just like being overly busy. More power to them.
Now go find rest and joy
What’s really important? You know the answer.