Every startup generally involves a team of people, form the startup advisers to the appointment of the first employees. Most new enterprise begins with the big idea, or the great opportunity; then the inspirational conversations with friends, family and associates begin, hammering the concept into shape. The voices we don’t wish to hear are always close by giving the impossibilities, the cold hard facts, the reasons it will failure. But always remember, criticism is quality control, so don’t take it personally and always thank them for their input even if it hurts to do so.
This is your startup team, made up of people who give informal or formal input in the research and development phase of an idea. Then as your idea takes root, there will be numbers of advisers, partners, workers and investors, all involved in creating structure around your idea. Many of the team of friends, family and mentors that start out brain storming with you as a part of your initialthink tank, may fall away and be replaced by financial partners, employees, empowering companies, people with expertise and experience.
Our attitude toward the concept of Team is all important and a part of the bigger picture of building healthy entrepreneurs and sustainable businesses. When we disrespect those we partner with in order to create wealth, we are disrespecting ourselves, and on the road to contracting a terminal sickness known as greed.
We really do need to believe in the power and value of partnership or team in order to achieve the wright kind of success. These kinds of philosophical foundations within our thinking have a huge impact on the new enterprise, often greater than the more technical, operational sides of the business. Good or corrupted character and thinking sits beneath the surface of all we think or do. Greed and personal ambition for example are among the enemies of building a culture that cares for the needs of others.
An economy is not a mindless machine of businesses, regulations and government, it’s a tapestry of relationships, of empowering or disempowering partnerships, of productive and unproductive people.
A number of years ago I was partnering with a team of young social entrepreneurs who wanted to serve the young people of their city using a similar model to Global Tribe. I remember giving them some advice that just came out spontaneously, but was news to me as well. I was talking about the importance of building the culture of the of the team as being of more importance than total focus on the wiz-bang programs or the slick look and feel of the place. I told them to check regularly onthe culture of genuine care for people. Holding the team accountable not only to the tasks of their job profiles, but to their attitude to one another and a general culture of kindness. Culture is shaped by leadership, whether positive or negative, bydesign or by default. Culture is build by the role models that people are inspired by. In business a partnership can be the legal description of the relationship, a buzz-word, or something that is genuine.
Autumn arrives and the Canadian Geese are on the move south for the winter. By flying in a V formation, a gaggle of geese add at least 72 percent to their flying range compared to each bird flying on its own. As the lead goose grows weary it rotates to the back of the V-formation and another goose takes the lead. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the bird immediately behind it. The V shape, scientists have now determined is no accident, with aeronautical engineers calculating that the entire gaggle of geese gains an improved energy efficiency and speed of up to 23 percent. Geese teach us that we can fly faster and further in partnership with others.
As these great birds fly, they honk to encourage those up at the front to keep up their speed and momentum. Above all, the quality to be admired in these incredible birds, is their sacrificial nature. If at any time a goose gets sick or is wounded and falls out of formation, two of the other geese fly down to nurse and protect their sick or injured family member. They tend their friend until they get well or die. They then await another V-train in order to catch up, and connect with their family and friends again.
This is a beautiful picture of a culture of partnership and team spirit. Partnership is a mindset that must be developed. Thinking and productivity is taken to another level in unity with others.
Known as one of the wisest and wealthiest kings who ever lived, Solomon teaches that, allowing ourselves to be woven into positive partnerships gives us greater productivity, provision, protection and power. He taught that, “If one can put one thousand to flight, then two can put ten thousand to flight.” Hafford Luccock notes, “No one person can whistle a symphony. It takes an orchestra to play it.” 2
Partnership is less of me and more of we. It requires humility to involve others in the thinking and development process of an idea. Milton Friedman noted, “There is not a single person in the world who can make a pencil; it takes the coordination of thousands of people. The wood may have come from a forest in Washington, the graphite from a mine in South America and the eraser from a Malaysian rubber plantation. Thousands of people cooperate to make a pencil.”
When we truly value the thoughts and opinions of others we gain a broad perspective. Andrew Carnegie once said, “I owe whatever success I have attained, by and large, to my ability to surround myself with people who are smarter than I am.” A study of Solomon’s wealth creation philosophy,shows that it came through building strategic trading partnerships.
Nobody is a complete orchestra; no one person is a basketball team, because growing an enterprise is a team sport. Thinking is strengthened when we join forces with others. Solomon says, “Just as iron sharpens iron, friends sharpen the minds of each other.” 3 The rough edge of another person may be the very tool that sharpens us.
CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien and their friends, in a creative partnership of writers called the Inklings, refined books such as The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Lord of the Rings. William Wilberforce, one of the great reformers of England, responsible for the abolition of slavery, was strengthened by a band of like-minded friends tagged the saints by their contemporaries in Parliament. A partnership that generated a revolution against all odds, as England derived huge economic benefits from slave trading. Wilberforce intentionally “forged strategic partnerships for the common good, irrespective of differences over methods, ideology or religious beliefs.”
The skill of great leadership is, more often than not, about instilling a sense of partnership. Max de Pree captures this in his definition of leadership. He states that leadership is more tribal than scientific, more a weaving of relationships than an amassing of information and, in that sense, I don’t know how to pin it down in every detail.
THINK WE, NOT ME
Napoleon Hill, in his book Think and Grow Rich, talks about the power of partnership in Henry Ford’s business success. He noted that the most “rapid strides” in the Ford Motor Company, and his business empire in general, came after forming strong relationships with Thomas A Edison, Harvey Firestone, John Burroughs and Luther Burbank. Hill says, “No two minds ever came together without thereby creating a third invisible, intangible force which may be likened to a third mind.” As a result he built what he called a master- mind group, which he defined as “the coordination of knowledge and effort in a spirit of harmony between two or more people for the attainment of a definite purpose. … [Adding] to his own brain power the sum and substance of the intelligence, experience, knowledge and spiritual forces” 4 of the group. He believed that because the human mind was a form of energy, a part of it was spiritual in nature.
Throughout Solomon’s Proverbs, he repeats again and again the need for wise advisors: “There is victory in the multitude of counsellors,” he taught. A Readers Digest article entitled “What Good is a Tree?” revealed that when the roots of certain trees touch, a fungus develops in the soil that somehow reduces competition between them. “This substance works to link the roots of different trees – even of dissimilar species” 6 these trees are designed to share with one another. Whole forests can be linked together, sharing water, nutrients and sunlight. As human beings, we are designed to thrive and succeed through the nurture of partnership.
Mother Teresa puts it this way, “You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together we can do great things.” John Wooden said, “The man who puts the ball through the hoop has ten hands.” The ability to partner with the right people is the key to another universe of thinking and achievement.