Manage Like You’re Dying: A Humbled Entrepreneur’s Reflections
We’ve all heard the expression “live like you’re dying.” I’ve experienced that first hand and it’s colored my experience founding aimClear, in profound and beautiful ways. This post is dedicated to our special friend who’s currently kicking cancer’s butt.
I started aimClear on the heels of surviving Lymphoma stage 3B, still handling the effects of chemo and radiation. As a result, aimClear was born to a person ready to embrace the joy of life and work. That was four years ago. Every day I go to work with a invaluable combination of excitement, awe, and fear.
Upon aimClear’s recent and humbling nomination for a respected regional award, I was invited to share tips with other entrepreneurs growing their businesses. I’ve been feeling a bit introspective about how we’ve done things here, because it’s been quite a ride as our company scaled from just me to 14 people in a little over four years. Here’s what comes to mind, in 20/20 hindsight, as keys to growing aimClear. I learned so much from cancer.
1- Achieve consensus for new hires amongst all employees, even if it means not hiring candidates the CEO believes to be qualified. Choose employees you love to be around. Never hire at the rate you can get work. Take work at the speed you can hire amazing people. There is no reason to ever go to work with people you don’t like. Matt, Manny, Merry, Lauren, Alyssa, Kathy, Joe W., Lindsay, Molly, Erica, Joe D., Laura and Mia… you’re amazing. You blow my mind every day and we are so lucky to have you.
2- Place the highest emphasis on culture and creating an atmosphere of respect, love, dignity, human rights, accountability, and natural consequences. Why accept less?
Plans for aimClear’s New Space, 6000 Sq Feet
3- The executive team should work for the employees, not the other way around. Nurture others as you expect the universe to nurture you.
4- Achieve buy-in for the financial and product development missions. Everyone needs to be on the same page, determined, and committed to the process.
5- Be totally willing to change your mind in light of feedback from employees and customers. Face the actual odds. Kick butt.
6- Apologize when you are wrong, and don’t give ground when you are right. I say I’m sorry often. I’m not co-dependent when I think I’m right. Keep the slate clean with everyone as if there is not another chance tomorrow. Remember that there will be another chance tomorrow.
7- Invest in each employee’s personal brand to the greatest extent possible. This is huge. Back promises up with action, training and money. In 2011, five aimClear team members will have spoken at 15+ advanced international online marketing conferences including SES, SMX, PubCon, International Search Summit, Media Post Insider Search Summit, OMMA Global, MediaBistro and DMA. Cities include three New York appearances, four in San Francisco, Sydney, Australia, London, Las Vegas, Seattle, Chicago, Park City, Utah, and numerous others. It’s important to embrace opportunities as if they are unique and priceless.
8- Pay it forward. In the technology space, daily training is crucial. A person can’t live unless their mind is somehow active.
9- Be conservative financially and hire employees who compliment your weaknesses. Be brutal in your assessment of your weaknesses. It’s completely essential to understand your own vulnerabilities.
10- Invest in thought-leadership and share until it hurts. In Q1 2011, we’ve devoted over 250 hours to scientific studies of YouTube, Bing and Google, which resulted in marketing insights, literally, no other company in the world knew. We gave it away. Five aimClear employees contribute to major trade publications including SearchEngineWatch, SearchEngineLand, SearchEngineRoundTable and BruceClay Blog.
11- Reach as high as possible. aimClear Blog is decorated including stints as Technorati Top 100 Business Blogs & Top 50 SEO Blogs. The blog has status as an AdAge Power 150 publication, a consensus measure of the best online marketing blogs in the world. PRWeb cited aimClear Blog as a top 25 PR blog and Cision ACB as a top10 social media blog. We’ve published over 600 articles, the publication is over 3,000 pages, and we attract web visitors from all over the world.
12- Understand that luck and the actions of others have as great an impact on the outcome as any personal action. Know that personal action can manufacture luck.
13- Never allow customers or vendors to treat your employees badly. If they do, fire them. Always have your employee’s backs. In the technology business, you can’t have customers unable to understand and implement your team’s recommendations. Don’t accept anything that drains your life’s energy.
14- Take jobs you can succeed at and don’t kid yourself by taking jobs you can’t win just for the cash. Life is too short.
15- Don’t try to be something your not. A company has to be aimClear’s size before it’s reasonable to take on areas of expertise not core to the founders. Teach your employees what you personally know, slowly expanding the knowledge base with the addition of specialized employees. Pass your knowledge on to the next generation, unselfishly.
16- Manage like you are dying. Be determined to leave this earth with all emotional and personal ledgers even.