You’re a product of your environment
Since entering the world of entrepreneurship and startups, one thing that I have read, been told, and learned is that your “Team” is everything. This statement is probably one of the most widely used teaching points given to any entrepreneur who ventures off to build something of their own. I agree with the assertion that the team is one of the most important pieces to being successful, however I prefer my team to be structured a little differently.
My team is, and will always be, huge.
^ it took me a lot to refrain from adding a big, ugly, wrinkly meme of Donald Trump here. OK, moving on.
I have been a member of teams since I was 4 years old. More specifically, soccer teams (every year since I was 4), basketball teams, student council committees throughout my years in school, a team in the world of private equity/real estate development, and Indian dance teams (fun fact). Being a part of all of these teams has allowed me to really experience team dynamics from every angle. I am lucky enough to have seen, first hand, why bad teams are bad and why great teams are great. Here are things that I have learned through my experiences as a teammate.
1. It starts from the top
Though this is fairly obvious, the culture and identity of a team is created by those who create the team. This can be seen when looking at coaches, teachers, managers, and CEOs/Co-Founders alike. The “players” you recruit, the values you instill in those players, the places you choose to play (i.e. your work environment), and your attitude across the board are all the contributing factors to your team’s identity and how you will perform. Culture is everything.
2. Superiority complexes kill teams
I have been a part of teams where I was number 32 out of 32 players and I have experienced what it is like to be at the top of the “depth chart”. The successful teams are the ones who value each and every member from top to bottom. Every member of the team (coaches/bosses/etc. to the players/employees/etc.) should be treated equally and held to the same level of accountability. Yes, there is a “chain of command”, but that does not mean that it should result in members being held to higher or lower standards. Also, as leaders of your team, you should only hire people who you expect to be vital members of your team, who will help your team’s success as much as you will on a day-to-day basis. (Ties in to #1).
3. Don’t judge a book by its cover
Yea, I used the saying that we’ve heard since kindergarten. Despite the fact the working world has come a long way, I still see too many businesses who are stuck trying to fit a physical mold over an intellectual mold that will improve their culture. Basically, what I am trying to get across is to build a team solely based on intellect and their capacity to plug in to your team and add value immediately, rather than focusing on whether or not someone literally “looks” the part. I don’t even really understand what that means/how that’s still even a thing. Tattoos, long hair, beards, etc. are physical attributes and play absolutely no role in an individual’s ability in the workplace, but I digress.
4. Make your team as LARGE AS POSSIBLE
This is the most important thing that I have learned as a result of being on so many different teams. Typically, it is said that a core team of 2–3 people is optimal, 4 may work, and anything beyond that is just excessive and will begin to hinder productivity. I agree that for founders 3 people is perfect, however I feel like it needs to be taken a step further. Start viewing your team as EVERYBODY who brings any form of positive energy to your life and your journey to become successful. Your family, friends, distant connections, co-workers, ex-co-workers, the barista at your favorite coffee shop, hell, the DJ at your favorite weekend spot.
You are a product of your environment whether you think so or not. And because of this, everyone that you surround yourself with, regardless of how much or little, plays a role in your progression individually and collectively as a team.
Unlike the individual you see above, I am telling the truth when I say that I have and am going to always have a HUGE team. I am lucky to have surrounded myself with and become connected with an absolutely incredible team. From family and friends, to my co-workers, mentors, and advisers. I have a team that is incredibly supportive, opinionated, and passionate about what I am doing and about what they are doing. They motivate me to work my hardest every day and they push me to step out of my comfort zone on a daily basis.
More specifically, in regards to work, my immediate team consists of me and my two co-founders and extremely close friends, Nathan Shiffman and Shaunak Turaga. We have been working on our app Zoomerang over the past months and have gained significant traction and are getting closer and closer to launch every day (stay tuned for more updates and announcements as we continue to make progress!). We have a great group of founders, because we all have a great dynamic, are forward thinking, and are not afraid to take the road less traveled in order to achieve success. Our willingness to work and grind over these past months, along with the guidance and support of our incredible board of mentors and advisers has allowed us to generate significant traction and make fantastic progress in a very short amount of time (shoutout to Anand Thaker, Ace Callwood, Dr. Jag Sheth, and Rajen Sheth).
Our core team, combined with our massive group of teammates who we have surrounded ourselves with from day one, will be the reason why we will all be successful with our current venture as well as with anything that we look to do from here onward.
It doesn’t matter what you are doing in regards to work, you can always control who is on your team. Make sure it’s a good one.
Hope this was at least a little beneficial. Have a good week folks.
— C —
Ignore any grammatical blunders throughout this post. I just like to get my thoughts out and tend to ignore the whole process of editing.