Category Archives: The Olympian

Play to Your Strengths (CLMonthly-004)

When it comes to recruiting and retaining employees, it can feel like an uphill battle for entrepreneurs with small, growing companies. They will likely have less capital at their disposal than their larger competitors, so attempts at salary bidding wars might not be a viable option.

But instead of playing to their weakness, the entrepreneur can leverage the advantages they have over many larger enterprises: flexibility, growth, innovation, and purpose.

Flexibility

Smaller companies have the luxury of being more malleable and adaptable to the unique situation of each employee. Flexibility is a critical advantage in recruiting and retaining employees looking for flexible working hours/locations, a significant component of wellness that many employers still (shockingly) overlook. Large corporations with rigid, bureaucratic corporate cultures have an especially difficult time competing with this.

Growth

For those not interested in climbing the corporate ladder in exchange for a few decades of their lives, smaller businesses are an ideal place to learn and grow at their own pace.  Due to the flat organizational structure and entrepreneurial culture, small businesses can provide employees with plenty of career advancement as the business itself grows.  This tends to be just as critical in retaining employees as recruiting them. 

Allowing employees to be exposed to new skills and responsibilities offers tremendous growth opportunities for both the individual and the business. A chance to work in this environment will be a breath of fresh air for people coming from an archaic, arbitrary, and political employee advancement process that has crippled the spirit of so many in the corporate world.  By focusing on helping the employee advance in their career, instead of just the company, small businesses are better equiped to attract and retain prime talent across the board.

Innovation

Advancements in technology has made it possible to automate and even eliminate many tedious and boring tasks, and often for a fraction of the cost.  Many corporations have embraced this technology for good. Still, others use it as an excuse to cut salary costs at the expense of their employees.  Perhaps this makes the firm cost-efficient, but is it a truly efficient use of resources?

By substituting humans for technology, these businesses are draining their sources of innovation.  A conscious entrepreneur will instead use this technology to enhance the employee output, rather than replace it.  There is an abundance of cost-effective tools out there that can reduce the menial tasks so that employees have more time for creative and strategic work.  Not only is this beneficial for employee wellness, but it also helps maximize returns on both human and tech resources.   

Purpose

This one is self-explanatory. Humans ultimately want purpose and meaning in life. Most large corporations still do a mediocre job of connecting their employees to their mission. Others simply have a shallow mission to begin with. Organizations whose top priority is to generate profits fail to inspire their people, and these businesses are bound to have unsatisfied people searching for an escape route. Entrepreneurs by design are chasing a specific and meaningful purpose, and this becomes an incredible strategic advantage when it comes to recruiting and retaining personnel. Finding someone who buys into the same vision and mission will go a long way in persuading them to join your team, even if your financial offer isn’t as strong.

There is no shortage of companies who are lacking in each of the above areas, and chances are they have great people who feel overworked, undervalued, or otherwise unwell. This is where small business can leverage their strengths to help these people achieve flexibility, growth, innovation, and purpose in their work.

Play to your strengths.

Free Your Mind

-CL

Channeling Athena (CLMonthly-001)

The battle within our mind is a continuous and unrelenting conflict that must be won every day.  Without winning this fight, one cannot expect victory in any other aspect of life.  Even the most formidable and technically gifted individual cannot devise a winning strategy in business, politics, sports, or any other environment if they cannot master themselves.  Emotions and impulses bend our perception of reality and cripple our rationality, which severely hinders the mind’s strategic capability. The more we let emotions dictate our actions, the more vulnerable we are to defeat.  Great strategists throughout history have understood this and have been able to use it to their advantage. 

Strategists take a pragmatic approach to conflict, and their mastery of mind and emotion allows them to accomplish their objectives in even the most hostile situations.  Even in the face of insults and aggression, the strategist will parry these attacks and maintain composure.  Rather than engage in the hostility, they will seek to interrupt the attacks through delay, obstruction, and misdirection.  Letting the other side waste precious time, energy, and resources on emotionally driven tactics will eventually tire, frustrate, or demoralize them – causing them to unveil a weak point in their strategy.  Time is a great advantage in conflict, but one that can only be utilized through a rational and disciplined strategist.  

In his book, The 33 Strategies of War, Robert Greene makes a fitting comparison between two key figures in Greek mythology: Ares and Athena.  Ares, the god of war, was a quick-tempered and ruthless warrior known for his lust for violence and brutality.  He was hated among humans (except Spartans) and gods alike and considered untrustworthy due to his reckless and wasteful approach to war.  Athena, on the other hand, was known as the goddess of wisdom and war (among other things).  She represented the intellectual and philosophical side of war that Ares failed to master.  While Athena was a powerful force on the battlefield, it was her craftiness and rationality that helped her defeat aggressive and impulsive enemies.  There are countless stories throughout Greek mythology of Ares suffering defeat, but Athena never lost a battle.  With this in mind it is clear that the superior general is Athena, so why then do so many follow the Ares approach to conflict?

Channeling Ares comes naturally to us.  Ares lies within our animal brain that reacts to our environment at a faster speed than our rational, “Athena” brain can.  It takes time, discipline, and determination to tame our impulses and emotions.  Unfortunately, most people are unwilling to make this sacrifice and instead choose to repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot by giving in to anger, greed, pride, or any other emotion.  We see this in sports when a player takes an undisciplined penalty that costs their team the game; in financial markets where investors recklessly buy overpriced assets that blow up their portfolio; and in marriages where spouses hurl insults at each other that turn a small disagreement into a relationship-killing fight.  We have all been in situations where we have given into to our primal instincts and ultimately cost ourselves a chance at achieving our long-term goals. 

In the end, brutes may win battles but strategists win wars.  

“When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”

African Proverb

Free Your Mind.

-CL