Whether you’re the guy trying to climb the ladder a little faster and more effectively or the guy using some startup moxie to build a better ladder, playing by the rules probably won’t get you there.
So we asked a few of our favorite business-savvy chums for their thoughts on how to buck the status quo and forge your own path to success.
IN STARTUP CULTURE
Gut over numbers
“When building Warby Parker and Harry’s, we encountered many situations where something looked good on paper but didn’t feel quite right. And every time we ignored our gut, we paid the price.”
Think beyond “disrupting”
“I don’t think of myself as a ‘disruptor,’ I just think of myself as trying to solve problems that I personally feel lots of other people see, too. I walk into work everyday and think, how can we make things better for our customer today? Then I structure my time to try do that.”
Stay bold, pony boy
“As we get bigger and bigger, risks feel bigger and consequences of failure more dramatic. I push myself and our team to move past those fears, and to be motivated by what we can accomplish, not what we might lose.”
IN THAT INTERVIEW YOU’RE STRESSING:
Barry Drexler has 30 years in the global HR game for outfits like Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley and Lloyd’s Banking Group. He’s interviewed over 15,000 candidates for just about every position imaginable, and now coaches intrepid ladder climbers on how to land their dream gig. His thoughts:
Show them the money
“The objective of every company is generating profits — even non-profits need funding. Every employee (receptionist to CEO) must contribute to this. Learn how the company makes money and describe how you will contribute either directly or indirectly.”
Discuss the intangibles
“Companies hire for attitude and train for skills. Use the job description to determine the personal qualities they are seeking (e.g., initiative, interpersonal skills, analytics, etc.). Then tell them that you have qualities that can’t be taught (e.g., ambitious, great with people, and/or highly analytical).
Turn the tables
“Make it about them, not about you. Use the job description and information during the interview to determine what the company needs. Then describe how your background and experience will allow you to contribute to their primary objectives.”
IN CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS
Think outside the steak dinner box — while a porterhouse and a few bottles of Barolo is certainly tried and true, a trip to, say, a woodsy shooting range to blast clays with vintage shotguns will leave a more lasting impression. Plus you can always follow it with the porterhouse and Barolo.
Gift like a badass — think things folks will appreciate having that they’d never think to buy for themselves. Trade the usual scotch for a smoky bottle of Maestro® Dobel Humito™ Tequila. Get ‘em some bespoke stationery. Hell, spring for a custom suit fitting at their home or office if you’re feeling particularly flush. Something they’ll use again and again and think of you every time.
Hack your relationships — the more you know about the folks you’re meeting — from stuff you’ve got in common to insights about their business — the more charming and together you’re going to come across. Thankfully, technology now allows you to hack the get-to-know-ya’ process in the form of Charlie, an app that syncs with your cal and provides a handy dossier on anyone you’ll be meeting that day.
RECOMMENDED READING FOR THE BUSINESS RULEBREAKER
The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau