Evolution: sheep to wolf
Last week I was having lunch with a dear friend of mine, as a forward thinker, out of the box human being and psychologist, she told me about this test they use in companies about dividing the people in two different groups: sheep and wolves.
The sheep, as the follower animals they are, need guidance, a leader, mentor to show and tell them what to do. In a cold kind of way, they are the wimps that always dream about a startup/company/restaurant/project but never accomplish those dreams because they are too afraid to fail.
As a 3 year runner and a starting career in sales and network marketing, failure is as common for me as the water I drink everyday. I am comfortable with it, I have failed courses in school, in college, in sports and in professional life. Does that mean that has stopped me from accomplishing what I wanted? No. Does that mean that I’ve felt frustrated and wanted to quit and doubted myself? Absolutely.
When I first started running or jogging as most people like to call it, I felt out of breath, I would walk a long time and my legs would hurt, my knees would hurt, I would quit after a couple of weeks, asked myself what I was doing and why I was doing it. It was very frustrating. One day, after years of ups and downs, I started running 5 miles, then 7, then 10, then I quit smoking, then my speed improved, my skin and my body came along and then one sweet day, my body craved it. I compete with myself and every month I like to break my personal records. This might be a good comparison for the way a startup works. You will fail and lose a lot of money until one day the curve will go up and you will have a bull company (for the ones that don’t know about stock market, bull is when your stock goes up).
Running didn’t made me a wolf, I am far from having the discipline it requires to be a leader, because if you think for a moment that motivation is going to get you running a team or a company of one or a thousand, you are dead wrong. It’s discipline. You need discipline among other things like emotional intelligence, self-confidence, wit, charm, out of the box thinking, vision and the list goes on forever. Running a company is hard, you need a global kind of thinking, a vision attractive enough that people are willing to follow you because they believe in you, in what you sell and what kind of growth you can offer, whether its personal, financial or both.
Before jumping in the pool, learn and travel. Be hungry about learning. By learning I mean everything, from self-help books, to finance, art history, sports, new languages, anything that will provide a positive outcome in your life. Reading the Art of War by Sun Tzu helped more professionally than any Marketing book I read through college. Travelling to New York and spending a whole day in the MET gave me more insights about human behavior than talking to a marketing and sales manager.
You have to start somewhere, and that doesn’t mean that you can’t jump in the pool now, but the financial losses you will have will be greater than if you keep it cool (being a sheep) and learn about what you’d want the outcome of your company to look like. Study the people that have gone through this road before and don’t make the same mistakes.
Let’s say you’d want to export organic cacao and have a positive impact in fair trade. So you start your company, buy the organic cacao and try to sell it at a higher price for an attractive margin. Suddenly, you realize you didn’t have the quality certificates needed, the prices were already established, the offer was saturated and you keep all your shipment and lose money. Did that made you a wolf or a sheep? Neither, that made you stupid. Investigate before taking the money out of your pocket, business unlike the casino, is not about luck, it’s about preparation.
“Every battle is won before it’s ever fought” — Sun Tzu
Have an amazing week!