When you are looking to add someone to your group, it takes Energy, Time and Focus. If you think about it like a bank account, then your team has only a limited budget to get to the success it desires.
Our mercantile club was growing again and we had no formal manner of introducing members, so JR and I were tasked to interview the new potential member, Ben. So there we sat two lattes, a flat white, pads of paper and conversation about how Ben would fit into our close-knit group of planets in the Mercantile Club. JR had served many multi national organisations and I trusted his sage advice. One of what JR likes to call ‘guinea pigs’ sat across from us and asked questions about what Ben did to build his business. Ben had a controlled manner about the way he spoke that let you know he knew how to deal with people.
Between JR and I, we drilled down into what Ben was looking for and what he was willing to do to make things happen. For the last eight months Ben had been focused on making sure that the networking he was doing would bear fruit. Like we all do in the beginning, this meant how many contacts he made and how much business income from those contacts. It was an enjoyable meeting and it allowed me time to reflect on all the times that I had been in the same situation. I would have to take off my shoes to be able to count as high as I needed to account for all the promises made to me in meetings like this.
The thing that hit me the hardest was all of the focus that I been placing on creating True Gravity through my contacts. I asked Ben a question that made him think deeply about his response. The question was “who are the go to people in your business world.” The answer to this would dictate what level of person Ben included in his loose knit galaxy as well as how he was able to incorporate them into a coherent plan with support and focus. If he had said that he hadn’t thought about it, then I would have been upset or put off. Ben had a great answer, one that made me a little homesick being this far away from home. His number one answer was his father, who was an amazing businessman in his own right and had created a platform of understanding that Ben was able to build on.
My father was the reason that I originally got into financial advice. OK, that is a lie, it was actually my mother persuading me to be more like my father. I had fought the idea for many years, but as we know mothers can be very persuasive and most of the time they are right. So when Ben said that his father was an influence in his life, that really made me drawn to his WHY. Like me, Ben had taken great guidance and steering from his father, but like all of us or at least most of us, sometimes that steering is too nice.
The second person on Ben’s list was somebody with great business acumen and also has the thirst for a work life balance.
Scarily, that is where Ben’s list stopped. The list was a great start with the two people that Ben had chosen, but my issue was that True Gravity could not be reached with only two other planets. A bigger problem is that sometimes those close to us don’t have what Jack Welch calls “candor” which is the cold hard truth that we need to hear. Ben had chosen well because true gravity isn’t always about getting business.
When starting from scratch or working on the day-to-day basis part of the gravity, what we need sometimes is just emotional support. Ben had created amazing emotional gravity. To get True Gravity, he needed to figure out exactly what he needed to make him feel fulfilled as a business person and not just a son/friend to these two other planets. Not to discount the need for emotion. I believe emotion is one of those things that at some point in time we need more than anything else. Whether it’s controlling an emotional outburst, the thoughts and ideas to quit, or that kick up the backside that says this is a great idea and you are just the person to deliver it.
Ben wasn’t doing anything wrong, he just needed to evaluate what he needed to give to create True Gravity, but also what type of planets he needed to align himself with.
In my mind, I started going through some other planets that were in my gravitational pull, the people in executive positions and HR professionals, that Ben either knew or should know and started to ask him why he had not done more with these people. Some of them he knew and rated highly.
In the beginning, like we all do, Ben had directed his energy into a large scatter gun approach of breakfast meetings, one-to-one’s and meetings. Because the energy was spread out all over the place, time is consumed in travelling, building plans, getting to know people, understanding their business and a number of other time depleting exercises. In the beginning, we don’t know who to trust, so we start to build a gravity around people that like us and are like us. This is easy and doesn’t feel like a large challenge to us emotionally or mentally.
The problem with starting out in business or creating a network is that we don’t understand that True Gravity is delivered not by the number of planets, but by the power created by planets who are perfectly aligned. When you have built your network and you start to overlay your TG concept, your team will help you evaluate people who could be great, or detrimental to you. By asking the right questions about their experiences, you can help guide people to understand who will be a useful part of their network and who needs to be cut loose. Correcting mistakes early will allow you to focus your energy more efficiently and in the right direction.
To help someone like Ben to create True Gravity here are the steps that I would go through;
- Create a business model canvas based around your business. See resources for your copy.
- Research your LinkedIn connections, overall business network and general contacts to try and figure out which of these people have the best leverage in the client segments that you want to reach.
- If you found six, invite them to a meeting in pairs. This meeting needs to have an agenda with the topics and the timeline to include your business, your goals, the next five years, the marketing plan – your True Gravity. On the agenda each of you get 15 minutes to make his/her presentations to each other and 50 minute discussion at the end on the next steps.
- Have all three appointments (or two appointment if you could only find four people) take extensive notes and try to understand what the key points are on their business model. Then look at the key partners box on your business model canvas and see which of the four or six people would fit best into this box for you and your business. Remember their value proposition, which is in the center part of the business model Canvas needs to closely align with yours, but not perfectly.
- Establish three of these people to become your true gravity team. Set out a calendar for the year to meet and discuss the objectives set out in their business model canvas and how each of you will be able to attract the right type of opportunities and experiences to make you feel fulfilled.
- Follow the chapter in my book on a year of True Gravity so that you are able to establish best working practices and help each other achieve your goals.True gravity comes in many forms. Daniel Pink says it best in his amazing book ‘Drive’, where he explains that that each of us needs to establish our financial base to take the issue of money off the table. Once we have reached this, it stops being about the money and focuses more on autonomy, mastery, and purpose. When you are building your True Gravity team, it is important to make sure that the people who are in your team are not struggling when it comes to the important things. If they are, then you will not be able to keep them focused and you will be distracted. True Gravity is a powerful force and if we leak this through failure or struggles it would be a shame. The reason you need to find people that are not just at the start phase of their business is that you need Energy, Time and Focus from them. A struggling business can be a big distraction from what you’re trying to achieve for them and for you. You need to choose people that not only understand you and where you’re going, but who also have drives that are similar to yours – or perhaps even stronger. These people can work with you, push you and pull you. Sometimes they’ll give you hope and other times punch you in the arm and ask you why you are being so down. Even more importantly, is that if you can get past the financial issues then you will be able to move towards mastery and other great skills and benefits that create drive in us all.