Entrepreneurs, You Are Your Own Two Person Team

One of the biggest challenges when you run your own business or even when you’re the leader of a larger team, is that very often you have two roles or ways of being. Each role is different and vital, but because they function so differently if you start to mix the two you’ll likely find yourself paralyzed with doubt and uncertainty. Here’s the make up of your two person team.

Role #1 – The leader or CEO

The job of the leader is to figure out a clear and compelling vision. The leader might generate the vision from themselves or source it from the team. How you get there doesn’t matter. What matters is that you see something that you want to create and it’s clear, compelling and meaningful to you (and your team if you have one).

Once the vision is set, the leader stands for that vision, plans for that vision, and enrolls others into that vision.

As time passes they need to notice what is and isn’t working, uncover the breakdowns, and shift the plan.

Role #2 – The doer or executer

Even if you’re fully a CEO, some of the work you do will be as a doer or executer

The job of the executor is to do the best job they can, based on their current understanding of the strategy and requirements that have been set forth by the vision.

If they run into problems they need to note and report them. They might come up with creative solutions, ideas for trying new things, and even lead their own efforts inside the context of doing.

They can still have the being of a leader and be standing for something, but their focus in this role is on executing based on what has been decided by the leader or the group.

Two Person Team: Final Thoughts

The problem SO many CEOs, start-up founders, freelancers, small business owners, and coaches face is that they try to do both of these at the same time.

They decide to try a strategy of reaching out to potential clients who might want big projects to boost revenues.

They do a few phone calls, ask for referrals, and they get a couple of no’s. Because it’s hard to hear No’s they start to doubt the strategy. They think well maybe I should just go after some smaller clients instead, so they switch to that, maybe they get a few jobs, but there’s not enough money and they realize that isn’t working. So they think about the bigger job clients again.

Pretty soon they feel discouraged, trapped, and uncertain.
But if they were two people or if they better understood the two roles (Leader and Do-er), this wouldn’t happen.

The salesperson might tell the CEO that they were getting some no’s and the CEO might ask about the number of calls or what kind of response they had gotten. They probably would tell the salesperson to keep going until they made 25 or 50 calls so they have enough information to see if the strategy was or wasn’t working.

The salesperson would keep going because they had the support of the CEO who was standing for the vision and focused on the information and feedback needed to make a good call.

The CEO may start to think of other strategies but would trust the salesperson to do the best job they could and learn as they went along, knowing that it takes time to test out any strategy.

The challenge is that we are NOT two people.

The doubts of the salesperson can become the doubts of the CEO and vice versa.
The critical eye of the writer can become paralyzing to the writer.
The fears of the coach can undermine the trust of the marketing manager.

This is why if you’ve got a job where you have to be in both roles, YOU’VE GOT TO LEARN TO SEPARATE THEM!!!

You can do this by trading off days.

On Monday I’m just a salesperson for my company. I’m going to get on the phone, or on my email and try to make it rain.
Then on Tuesday morning I’ll sit down with myself and do my best work.

You can do this by having different spaces.

I do my writing in my living room chair and I DO NOT EDIT.
I do my editing at my desk where I do my other admin tasks.

You can even try different outfits or hats (physical or energetic).

When I put on my dress pants I’m the CEO of my company and I’m setting the strategy.
The rest of the time I’m a worker on my team and I’m focused on getting the day-to-day done.

And YES I’m fully aware the two will bleed into each other in certain places.

That’s ok. The key here is to do your best to notice where your head is at and ask if it’s where it needs to be.

To do anything well you need both the vision and the courage to execute that vision.
But you have to remember that courage sometimes means staying the course even when it’s hard. And sometimes it means taking a hard look at the strategy even when you don’t want to admit it isn’t working.

 

Offering a No From a Masculine Perspective

The feminine doesn’t like to hear the word no. Or at least the feminine in me doesn’t. It can get bratty, resistant, and even a bit defiant. And yet the feminine longs for a strong no, a no it can’t shake or get past.

Recently I did some work with other men, one of the men asked me to take on a practice. I said no. I felt him fully with my heart, I loved where he was asking from, but I was still a no.

It was perhaps the most powerful practice I have offered another man, my complete honest and loving no.

For the masculine the no can feel quite powerful, you draw a line, you put it forth with aggression NAY ANGER, your no is furious, full or power, and solid.

Or the no can be plaintive, rejecting, longing for freedom and throwing no’s like daggers of resentment.

But there is another way. A way to offer the no with love and clarity. A subtle sense that there will be aggression or stand if need be, but for now the no is offered, with an open heart and a strong back.

For a long time I felt afraid to offer my NO this way. I either threw it angrily or flopped it out on the table hoping no one would notice. I’m afraid my no would make her leave, make him mad, and make me bad.

So I hid my no until it became ferocious until my NO was scary enough to be listened to.

Slowly I have learned to see the gift in the NO. NO and I love you. NO and I’m not making you wrong for asking. NO and I mean it.

This gentle loving line, this supple stand, the clear and powerful offering of a NO to the feminine. The feminine may not ‘like’ it in every case, but it learns to trust it. As I have learned to trust my own masculine more and more.

 

I’m Losing

I’m losing the ability to see people as perfect women only gorgeous in my eyes men with the perfect way of being the idea that some version of me

will be seen as a perfect knight in perfect shining armor what I’m left with

is just us messy humans pooping and sweating getting older making mistakes trying to love one another and doing a piss poor job of it most of the time

us messy humans being scared with our pasts and history our reactions our wounds and anger

us messy humans trying and failing giving into temptation spending all day watching tv and polishing off a bag of chips

this world is made new in its messiness in its ordinariness in its boringness

I’ve never seen it this way without the rose colored glasses the streets have more homeless people your face has more pimples my body isn’t as thin as I would like

but in losing that layer of fantasy and dream I’m finding something new to fall in love with

a kind of love closer to my heart and the truth of what it means to be human this life is so unsatisfying even in the present moment and yet it’s more than enough so much more than enough

 

Can You Help Me Meet Myself?

Can you help me meet myself?
Because that’s what you said
That we could never hope that someone would meet us
Not fully
That we could only
In the slow tenderness
Of long nights
And long cries
Meet ourselves

And so
If we’re no longer looking

For an empty piece
For a heart to match our own
For a forever person
Because nothing is forever

All we can ever really hope for
Is for someone to help us

Pick up the broken pieces of the mirror
That we’ve been cutting our fingers on
For so long
That we don’t even remember what a hand
Not covered
In dried or wet blood
Feels like any more

Can you help me?
Pick up these fragments
So softly
That I no longer cut myself

And turning the image
Towards my own tired eyes
Red from grief
Full on longing
And a glimmer of hope

So I can see myself
As you see me
As my friends see me
With love
And understanding

Can you help me?
Reach through
This shard of an image
To touch my own hand
And feel the softness of my own skin
And the warmth of my own heart

Can you help me?
Meet the me
That will show up with love
And give it
Even when I’m certain I’m not worthy
Even when you’ve left me
If even it’s simply to go on a trip
Or to the bathroom
Or for someone else
Or for a destination beyond the beyond

Can you help me?
As I help you
Arms entwined
Each with our own jagged edges
Looking at ourselves

Until we look up and notice each other
Meeting those me’s
Together
And smile

 

Is it enough?

Each day
Waking to a question in my mind

Is it enough?

This body
with some muscles and some fat
some wrinkles creeping in around my eyes
some part of me leaking out when I don’t want

Is it enough?

This life of making coffee
doing work I love
but making less money than other people make
and more than many do
having less fame then other people have
and more than many do

Is it enough?

The noise of traffic outside
a few plates in the sink
things mostly in their place
but clutter too

Is it enough?

A walk with friend to pick up dinner
talking about things we’ve talked about before
and yet enjoying the new curiosity on old pages

Is it enough?

Knowing the I’ll get old and die
well actually not knowing about the old part

Knowing it will be forgotten
all the laughter and angst

Knowing the earth is getting hotter
that racism is still a thing
that I don’t respect our leaders

Is it enough even though it’s never enough,
more days
I could handle anyway
more money
than I could spend
more life then
I have stomach for

Is it enough?
And what if it was?

 

Is Luxury Stingy? Overpriced Hotels and Restaurants

I love staying at nice hotels, but often they feel like a ripoff.

While the La Quinta Inn in Walla Walla Washington offers free wifi, the Grand Hyatt in Los Angeles charges $5 a day.

While In and Out offers free refills on sodas, some five star restaurants charge you $2.00 for every glass you get.

The cost of hosting one more person on wifi or giving someone another $.05 glass of soda is marginal, but the impact is significant.

Maybe most people that go to nice restaurants and hotels don’t care about a dollar or two here or there. But for me instead of creating an experience of luxury, it creates an experience of stinginess. I start to feel like I’m getting nickeled and dimed, because that’s what’s happening.

Which makes me think about who I am as a leader and business owner. Because generosity (within reason) almost always leads to a sense of spaciousness and abundance. Whereas holding things tightly creates the opposite impact on both sides.

So the question is how do I want people to experience me as a leader. After all, the word of mouth created by my generosity is much less expensive than the cost of advertising.

 

How To Run A Meeting That Doesn’t Suck | Part 7: Final Thoughts

This is part six of a seven part series.
Read Part One Here.
Read Part Two Here.
Read Part Three Here.
Read Part Four Here.
Read Part Five Here.
Read Part Six Here.


Almost everyone I meet seems to think they know how to run a meeting. The startup founders I coach are convinced that their ability to guide a process is better than almost anyone else. The coaches I work with are no different, they feel their ability to listen and reflect makes them master facilitators. And yet consistently when I sit in on a meeting that one of my clients runs, I have to bite my tongue to hold back my suggestions and objections.

The truth is: MOST MEETINGS SUCK.

This is despite the fact that there are numerous guides, books, and outlines for how to run meetings. The real problem is that running a meeting is less about the mechanics (timing, agendas, talking sticks, conches, wands, etc) and more about the ability to be with people while also leading them with grace to a place THEY want to go.

So after running thousands of meetings and sitting through even more, here’s the skills you actually need to be successful.


Part 7: Final Thoughts

Being a great facilitator seems easy at first glance. You set up an agenda, guide a team or group through a set process, and then help them choose what’s next. But there’s so much more to it than that, especially if you want to be a world class facilitator.

Great facilitation demands that you learn how to lead without having most of the traditional trappings of a leader (CEO, Founder, Chairperson etc.) and without putting too much of your own ideas in the space (the way a consultant might). It’s a true test of leadership and coaching abilities, but mastering it is TOTALLY worth it.

Because if you do not only can you learn how to run groups that will change people’s lives, but you will also learn how to become a better leader, coach, and facilitator in your own life. These skills are KEY skills for any leader to master and it’s why many of my coaching and CEO clients talk about what they learn from watching how I run a meeting.

I assure you it’s not because my jokes are the best or I’m a great powerpoint creator. It’s because of who I choose to be in meetings and how I stand for the people I work with. That’s what’s possible. You can change people just by the way you run a meeting and you can also inspire them to be better leaders in their lives as well.


This is part seven of a seven part series.

Read Part One Here.
Read Part Two Here.
Read Part Three Here.
Read Part Four Here.
Read Part Five Here.
Read Part Six Here.

 

How To Run A Meeting That Doesn’t Suck | Part 6: You Have To Know How To Prep and Followup Like a Master

This is part six of a seven part series.
Read Part One Here.
Read Part Two Here.
Read Part Three Here.
Read Part Four Here.
Read Part Five Here.


Almost everyone I meet seems to think they know how to run a meeting. The startup founders I coach are convinced that their ability to guide a process is better than almost anyone else. The coaches I work with are no different, they feel their ability to listen and reflect makes them master facilitators. And yet consistently when I sit in on a meeting that one of my clients runs, I have to bite my tongue to hold back my suggestions and objections.

The truth is: MOST MEETINGS SUCK.

This is despite the fact that there are numerous guides, books, and outlines for how to run meetings. The real problem is that running a meeting is less about the mechanics (timing, agendas, talking sticks, conches, wands, etc) and more about the ability to be with people while also leading them with grace to a place THEY want to go.

So after running thousands of meetings and sitting through even more, here’s the skills you actually need to be successful.


Part 6: You Have To Prep And Followup Like A Master

A big thing I see many facilitators miss is the importance of preparation and follow up. I can’t even tell you how many inspiring mastermind sessions I’ve run or strategic plans I’ve crafted only to have people take no action and forget about all the dope work we did.

As a coach I know that 90% of the work happens in between the sessions. As a facilitator it’s no different.

PREPPING

1) You need enrollment from the key players – If people haven’t bought into the process the session isn’t going to go well. With a mastermind group this means making sure members are engaged from the beginning and that they stay engaged throughout the group’s lifecycle.

Since you’re the facilitator that means establishing relationships with each of them and having them get clear on what they are going to create for themselves and also offer to others. As the group goes on they key is to foster relationships between members which will keep everyone engaged.

For groups inside a business, the main relationship is between members of a team so you need to understand those relationships and make sure you’re seen as a neutral player here to help everyone meet their goals. And you’ll also need to make sure you have the buy-in from your main stakeholder(s) which is usually the formal leader (CEO or founder) and the person who hired you. Very often this is the same person but sometimes it’s not. You need to make sure you understand their expectations and concerns, because their buy-in is what will allow you to keep working with that team.

2) You need to set the context and create the structure for the session –

As a facilitator the structure needs to be informed by the context. Ideally the structure will be flexible enough to handle any breakdowns but rigorous enough to make sure the team or group reaches its desired goals.

Some of this is “best practices” but often it requires having real tough conversations about what needs to happen at each meeting. Either with the key players or with other facilitators who can help you craft the session(s)

Even with a mastermind group that has a set structure, understanding how to set context for the calls and make sure members are engaged and focused requires attending to structure and learning how to tweak it formally (by changing the agenda) or informally (by shifting the time allocated or the way the agenda is set up).

One example of this is that often in masterminds I’ve run, the check-in section becomes pretty rote. People start to say they’re feeling ‘good’ and that their businesses are ‘growing’, which isn’t very helpful for anyone else in the group.

So I regularly have to recreate the context of the check in. I’ve been known to ban the word Good for any part of the check in and to remind people that this is their chance to express what’s really going on in their internal world.

If you prepped well the team or group will be ready for the meeting. If not, you’ll have to spend valuable in person (or online) time to get everyone on the same page.

FOLLOWING UP

Following up is another key area that most facilitators drop. They send a brief summary of the meeting and wish the members well.

For companies I’ve found that quarterly check ups are the minimum to track how the team is doing on the plan and often I need to get reports from several departments to discover the real story behind the scenes.

For mastermind groups I’ve found that if you don’t check in on what happened in previous meetings the same problems tend to crop up again and again without really dealing with the underlying issues.

In either case a summary of the session is a bare minimum. Even better is a set of practices to engage in and a way for the participants to report back on what is and isn’t working. This way they can get support on what they’re struggling with.

In addition you need to make sure you’re getting feedback and input from your key stakeholders after the session is complete. If they have a complaint or a concern you want to know that right away so you can deal with it rather than letting it fester and impact your relationship, or even worse, the planning you’ve done or the trust in the group you’ve helped to create.

When you combine preparation and follow up, you will start to see that your role as a facilitator starts long before the meeting happens and may last long after it has ended.

Members of groups I’ve run often reach out to me for support even when I no longer work with their teams and businesses often hire me to come back and work with their teams on a regular basis because of how valuable that relationship is.

The big takeaway here is that facilitation is much more like a relationship than a one night stand. And you need to consider how you’re going to deepen that relationship before you meet so you can sustain it after the meeting has ended.

Stay tuned next week for the final part of this series.


This is part six of a seven part series.
Read Part One Here.
Read Part Two Here.
Read Part Three Here.
Read Part Four Here.
Read Part Five Here.

Check back in next week as we cover the final part of this series

 

How To Run A Meeting That Doesn’t Suck | Part 5: You Have To Know How To Generate Valuable Friction*

This is part five of a seven part series. Read Part One Here. Read Part Two Here. Read Part Three Here. Read Part Four Here.


Almost everyone I meet seems to think they know how to run a meeting. The startup founders I coach are convinced that their ability to guide a process is better than almost anyone else. The coaches I work with are no different, they feel their ability to listen and reflect makes them master facilitators. And yet consistently when I sit in on a meeting that one of my clients runs, I have to bite my tongue to hold back my suggestions and objections.

The truth is: MOST MEETINGS SUCK.

This is despite the fact that there are numerous guides, books, and outlines for how to run meetings. The real problem is that running a meeting is less about the mechanics (timing, agendas, talking sticks, conches, wands, etc) and more about the ability to be with people while also leading them with grace to a place THEY want to go.

So after running thousands of meetings and sitting through even more, here’s the skills you actually need to be successful.


**

You Have To Know How To Generate Valuable Friction*

**

The other side of people is their tendency to go along to get along. Most of the magic in meeting isn’t in coming to quick and easy agreement but by spurring people to think more deeply about the challenges, problems, and questions they’ve brought.

Which means as a facilitator you need to know how to create the kind of friction and challenge that leads to deeper thinking, better solutions, and more creative ideas.

To do this you have to be ok with conflict and the unknown, because those two things are what most teams and people like to avoid.

Here are some questions to consider: – Where does the group or person come to agreement too quickly? – What solutions are being overused? – What considerations are being avoided? – Where are people resigned to how things are? – What limitations have people accepted as unchangeable which are in fact changeable? – Where does possibility go to die on the team? In this person’s life?

Once you identify an area where a lack of conflict is limiting growth you can start to generate some good healthy conflict. The key to healthy conflict is you need both safety and challenge.

If you’ve done your work on the previous four points you’ve likely already created safety though it’s important to remember to make sure people are still being heard, that breakdowns are handled with grace, and that the issues are seen as issues and not personal battles to be fought in a public arena.

Then to create challenge you need to ask people to look at their underlying assumptions, to ask people to look beyond the most obvious solutions, and demand that people back up what they’re saying with evidence or at the very least some good reasoning.

Most facilitators only excavate the first layer of questions of possibility. The best facilitators encourage people to look at challenges from multiple perspectives, consider more creative options, and really look at the impact each option will have on the people involved.

To create challenge you have to learn to ask deeper questions and push people to think of more possible solutions:

Instead of asking – How could I do a better job of marketing my new course? Ask – What are all the ways I could market my new course?

Instead of asking – What offering do you think I/we should create next? Ask – What evidence do we have that indicates what our customers are looking for?

Instead of asking – Do you think we should hire a new assistant? Ask – What gaps are there in our current process? Could we cover these gaps with our current resources? What kind of personality is missing on our team? What will the real costs of hiring an assistant be? What are the costs of not having an assistant?

Of course creating challenges is more art than science. It requires a good facilitator to understand the context of the conversation, the assumptions that are hidden, and the possibilities that may exist. Once you have this sense of your group you will be able to challenge the group as a whole and each member of that group to do the hard work of thinking about the challenges that face them.

The key thing to remember is that friction is GOOD! so long as it pushes people to think beyond their comfort zone and deal with any elephants trying to hide behind a vague powerpoint slide or bullet point on a business plan.


This is part five of a seven part series. Read Part One Here. Read Part Two Here. Read Part Three Here. Read Part Four Here.

Check back in next week as we cover part six which is about preparing and following up.

  • Many of the ideas in this section are loosely based on ideas for creating debates from the book Multipliers.
 

How To Run A Meeting That Doesn’t Suck | Part 4: You Have To Know How To Deal With Breakdowns With Grace And Efficiency

This is part four of a seven part series.
Read Part One Here.
Read Part Two Here.
Read Part Three Here.


Almost everyone I meet seems to think they know how to run a meeting. The startup founders I coach are convinced that their ability to guide a process is better than almost anyone else. The coaches I work with are no different, they feel their ability to listen and reflect makes them master facilitators. And yet consistently when I sit in on a meeting that one of my clients runs, I have to bite my tongue to hold back my suggestions and objections.

The truth is: MOST MEETINGS SUCK.

This is despite the fact that there are numerous guides, books, and outlines for how to run meetings. The real problem is that running a meeting is less about the mechanics (timing, agendas, talking sticks, conches, wands, etc) and more about the ability to be with people while also leading them with grace to a place THEY want to go.

So after running thousands of meetings and sitting through even more, here’s the skills you actually need to be successful.


**

You Have To Know How To Deal With Breakdowns With Grace And Efficiency

**

Meetings would go much more smoothly if they didn’t have any people in them. Humans are funny, we take things personally, we dig into positions that don’t matter, and we bring our own set of fears and filters to everything we do.

But people are still the magic of meetings. Our kindness, our creativity, our empathy, and our ability to cooperate and collaborate gives us the ability to build giant buildings and perform beautiful symphonies. To be great at facilitating meetings you have to know how to work with people when they stop working.

At some point during your meeting there’s going to be a breakdown. Or more simply put, someone is going to get upset, repeat an opinion over and over again, try to move beyond a vague point too quickly, or something else.

When this happens you have to know how to work with it. If you can work with it skillfully then you can get the team back on track without stepping over or onto anyone in the process.

Here’s how I do it:

A. Identify that there is breakdown – is this normal helpful conflict or is it getting too heated? Is the team on track but thrashing or is it off track? Are you on topic or in a rabbit hole? How does the room feel?

Mostly you’ll feel breakdowns happen. It will seem like all of a sudden you’re in the weeds or that something has been said that is causing a strained reaction. Notice it and wake up.

B. What is the breakdown? – Is someone upset? Has someone taken something personally? Does some not feel heard? Are people taking sides?

Once you can tell something is wrong you have to work out what shouldn’t be or should be that is. You can do this by yourself or in the group.

“Hey I noticed the energy has shifted, does anyone else feel it? What’s going on here?”

C. Attend to the breakdown – You shouldn’t try to fix it, fixing a breakdown won’t solve the problem. First you just need to attend to it by putting your attention on it or the group’s attention on it. There are a couple ways to attend things I do.

The first is just listening – I’ll go to the person who is upset and say, “Hey I notice this topic has some energy for you. Can you tell me about that?” Then I simply reflect what they say. Many times this is all that’s needed to move on, since being heard is a simple need we all have.

The second is depersonalizing the issue – If the team is debating whether to invest in marketing or sales it’s natural that the head of sales will get invested. So instead I simply invite everyone to argue for why marketing should get the money and then I ask everyone to argue about why sales should get the money. This way the debate isn’t personal. It’s not about who deserves the money. It’s about the options and their value to the company.

D. Resolve the breakdown and move on –
This can be the hardest part for many people. When a breakdown happens we tend to either avoid the problem and hope it goes away or we hyper focus on the problem way too long.

Very often people aren’t going to be fully bought in on every choice the group might make. And not everyone will have wisdom for everybody else.

When a breakdown happens you need to attend to it, but then you need to move on. Often I’ll hear someone out, check in to make them feel heard, and then simply say, “Hey we need to move on now, is that alright with you?” They almost always say yes. The key here is I’m calm, present, and I ask their permission.

Don’t get lost in the breakdowns or you’ll play whack a mole forever, deal with what you can and then move on.


This is part four of a seven part series.
Read Part One Here.
Read Part Two Here.
Read Part Three Here.

Check back in next week as we cover friction.