Less Is More
Why you should listen to me: I work at Lucid, the world’s largest platform for human answers. If MacGyver worked at a tech company, he’d do what I do. I’m the CEO’s right hand man. I see everything and execute on most things.
When I started at Lucid, I didn’t really have much of an on-boarding primarily because of my specialized role. How can you prepare someone to plan a build-out, support a marketing team as it grows from one full-time employee, or create processes that help to organize the company? You can’t, you just throw them into the deep end and tell them sink or swim. This happened to me as soon as I hit the door.
Patrick told me to send an email about some important matter, obviously, so I wrote an email that any recent grad would write. Incredibly polite, very indirect, not urgent, and full of words. Within five minutes I got a call from Patrick.
“Too many words. Say what you need.”
I’m pretty sure the conversation took about 7 seconds. Then I got the point. I was too deferential, too polite, and I used too many damn words. From that point on my entire demeanor changed. If my emails didn’t fit on an iPhone screen they weren’t short enough. If you had time to look down at your phone while I was talking to you, then I was saying too many words. When is the last time you heard your CEO speak for minutes on end or send some lofty communication?
Think about it.
What less is more means operationally?
Even though I learned that brevity wins in communication, I realized that it goes much deeper than that. A good deal of my job is people watching, and drinking Zest Tea, of course. I see both good habits and bad habits, and it’s clear that there are two types of people.
(This is obviously bullshit, life is not that simple. Why are you even following my writings I clearly know nothing.)
Person 1: Needs validation in the form of fancy titles, high fives, and gold stars. They are obsessed with climbing the proverbial ladder. They compare themselves to their peers endlessly and gauge success relative to everyone else.
Person 2: Titles are irrelevant. They put their head down and execute. Compensation matters. Their reviews are always asking, “How do I improve?” This person is seeking to build their own ladder, and not climb yours.
(Seriously, what does this have to do with less is more?)
Glad you asked, it’s simple. Person one is creating a career filled with nonsense. Irrelevant measures of success that the organization only creates to motivate them. They are blinded by comparing themselves to their peers and getting to the next logical career step. Just like the recipient of my email did not take me seriously, this person will never be taken seriously. Too much sizzle and no steak (I hate this phrase. But I also hate startup porn and here we are). Your company is telling you how to get everything you ever wanted if you pay attention. There are company goals. Figure them out and align yourself with them. If you can successfully do that, you win. Get out of your own way. School is over and you should not be concerned with gold stars. Unless, of course, you’re happy with waiting on that next promotion or whatever artificial high five your company doles out.
Why you shouldn’t listen to me: I have a massive ego that needs to be stroked. When I first got my business cards, I handed them out to everyone. Every fast food restaurant on Canal St. knows I’m an Executive Analyst.