Hollywood, J Lo, Harry Connick, Jr, Lights, Music, excitement. The American Idol results show we attended Thursday evening had all of it. What a blast!
I walked away from this terrific experience with two driving thoughts.
1. Contestants are courageous– I was struck as I sat up close and personal to many of the contestants just how vulnerable they were. They seem so together for the most part on TV but to be there and observe their interchanges, their looks of relief, their enthusiasm in rising to the challenge, and their nervous gazes, I gained a big appreciation for their courage. What they do is NOT easy. They are putting themselves out there in front of millions. One misstep, one wrong note, one inappropriate comment, can absolutely destroy their move to the top of the American Idol voting and even put a long-term scar on their career in entertainment.
I thought about their courage and applied it to my world of business. My experience is that those who win in business are unafraid. They “Let It Go” so to speak. They are bold, they take actions with courage, they Show Up, and they make their presence felt. Ben Horowitz of the highly successful VC firm of Andresseen Horowitz, one of the great funding sources for Fusion-io, once reflected on his time as CEO of his own company.
“In my experience as CEO, I found that the most important decisions tested my courage far more than my intelligence.”
My advice to hiring managers and C Level executives is to find people in your hiring practices that are unafraid to be wrong. Ironically, these are people with the most confidence. They are difference makers in life and in business. If you want to win, hire courageous people.
2. To make things happen, know a Connector – My daughter Aimee is a great connector. I guess she has the Connector gene. It’s in her DNA. Turns out, Aimee is a good friend of Casper Smart – popularly known as the boyfriend of Jennifer Lopez. it was Casper that arranged for us to get those great seats at the American Idol show sitting behind the judges. Aimee, and her husband, Chris, know Casper as “Beau Smart” (that’s his real name.) He used to teach young kids how to dance at Aimee’s Ladera Ranch Dance Academy in Orange County, California.
But surprisingly, it was not Aimee that made the original connection with Beau. Aimee’s husband Chris is not born with the Connector gene but he has learned to develop one. He is the one that first met Beau and invited him to teach at their Dance Academy. (By the way, if you want to know more about Ms. Lopez’ boyfriend, go to http://www.caspersmart.com/)
How did Chris make that connection happen? How can you be a Connector even if you are not borne with the Gene? The answer is this: Be Curious! Ask Questions! When you ask questions and learn the answers, you can find common points of interest with your contact. That in turn drives Trust. When Trust is acquired and maintained, great things can happen. When Chris first met Beau they discovered common interests in dancing and working out. I wished I looked like Chris and Beau. They are workout kings. But their common interests connected them at the Ladera Dance Academy. Of course, all of this was “Pre-J-LO.” So when Aimee wanted to do something nice for her parents, she turned to Mr. Smart and accessed 4 seats to the show. She made it happen.
The success of any business enterprise is heavily dependent on one or two people in the organization that are willing to connect the company to sales or strategic partnerships. Most great sales people I know are natural connectors. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book “The Tipping Point,” he describes Connectors as “people in a community who know large numbers of people and who are in the habit of making introductions. A connector is essentially the social equivalent of a computer network hub.” Gladwell goes on to say that they are people who “link us up with the world…people with a special gift for bringing the world together”.
An interesting side note is this: While at the show, we met another dynamic connector. Her name is Kaitlin Chappel. She and her friend Marissa Castile had won a Twitter contest that got them into the show. These young ladies had come all the way from Alabama to attend their favorite show. Roll Tide! As we visited with them in between breaks in the show, we discovered a commonality of interest in the blogosphere. I was so impressed with Kaitlin that I went and checked out her website, Words Paint A Thousand Pictures.
Caitlin has the Connector Gene. Aimee has the Connector Gene. They make things happen and it is a pleasure to know them.
Want to win in business?
My conclusion from the American Idol experience is simply this: Hire Courageous Connectors!