Thursday, May 04, 2006

Self Selection

There seem to be many temptations as an executive to get involved in things that do not directly correlate with your business. Since the word got out that I started my own company, I’ve turned down two job inquiries, one prospective client who wanted me to perform BD functions on their behalf, and a prospective partner who wanted to limit the scope of my company while they pursued parts of my mission as well as BD.

First, it’s always very kind to be considered for any opportunity. At the same time it comes back to mission and focus. Livingston Communications’ mission is its own, not some other company or person’s vision. We are a full-service communications company serving companies in the B2G and tech/telecom segments as well as select consumer opportunities.

As such, it’s important not please people for the sake of making them happy. Bill Cosby used to say, “I don’t know what the key to happiness is, but I know what it isn’t; trying to please everyone.” If it makes good business sense then it is worth entertaining. Otherwise, it’s best to part ways or work on a more confederate basis. I find myself trusting that little voice in my heart more and more often.

Another thing that’s helpful in these matters is the principle of self selection. I had a meeting with a partner that I am trying to engage with, and my conversation with the lead executive revealed a golden nugget. She said, “People often self select themselves right out of deals.” I love that!!!!! It’s so true.

Watch people, watch their actions -- not their words -- and you can often tell whether or not they are the right client, partner or employer for you. They self select. If there is an issue, do they compromise? If there is a waiter or a bell hop, how do they treat these people; as a superior or as another human being trying to make a living? Do they whisper sweet nothings, then try to seize control of your accounts or fail to produce the results they promise? Are they respectful of deal flow, do they give as well as take? Do they give people credit for their words and ideas or claim them as their own? Do they muscle you for extra work, squeezing your margins so you are unprofitable or that you burn-out? All things I use to decide whether or not to move forward with someone.

It’s amazing how many more decisions like this I have had to make in the past two weeks then ever before. And it has been critical to seek other people’s advice in these matters. But don’t trust anyone, make sure the people you ask advice from are 1) successful and 2) have the kind of ethics you want to emulate.

It’s Thursday at 7:30 a.m. Another day begins.

Author's Note: Blogging in business requires general comments, and I apologize for not citing more specific situations. For legal reasons, as well as the sure knowledge that my competitors read this blog, citing specific clients, partner names and some situations is impossible.


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