The Startup Called “You”

Entering Startup

Entering Startup

The myth is that startups mostly exist in places like San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Austin, Portland and Boulder, Boston or New York City.

That part is no myth; startups up do exist in those places.

But there is another startup in the town where you live. In fact, it’s even got your name on the door.

It’s the startup called you.

In today’s world the only permanence is what you bring to your work – “craft” is a finer word if you prefer – every day.

New role, new boss, new owners, new firm, new technology, new merger – heck, even new customer. Every day in almost every way you take your skills, experiences and abilities and put them on the proverbial “line.” Will you do well today, or will things fall apart and you’ll need to start up, and start over someplace else?

The New York Times Thomas Friedman touched on this point earlier this summer in a post titled “The Start-up of You,” riffing on an upcoming book by LinkedIn’s chairman and serial entrepreneur Reid Hoffman. “Entrepreneurs don’t write a 100-page business plan” Hoffman explains. “and execute it one time; they’re always experimenting and adapting based on what they learn.

And if you want to succeed, you’ve got adapt, up and re-skill, all the while working your “day” job if you have one.

I had coffee today with a former SVP and wise soul previously with a very large San Francisco firm and she mentioned that there is no stability – no permanent – anymore. You’re doing great and the next thing you’ve got a new boss and that permanent became maybe 6, 12, 18, or if you’re lucky 24 months more in the role if the two of you don’t “connect” as they say.

I expanded the exec coaching side of my consulting practice to include new hire coaching – wherer 40% of senior execs in new roles with new firms will fail within 18 months –  because there are so many people who fail early with (pick one or more) the new role, new boss, or new firm that there’s a unmet need to get people off on the right foot. The didn’t fail for lack of trying – they failed because they didn’t adapt to the new; they were still working in the old.

A fellow trustee on a board I sit mentioned that when his firm was sold from one owner to an offshore company the new owners brought in a new CEO. Six months later, 10 of the 12 former senior execs are gone; he’s hopeful that he won’t be number 11.

So there is a startup called you and if you want to be successful make every day an intentional one. What can you do to do better? What can you do to maintain the things – including client, work and vendor relationships – you do well. What are the hard and soft skills you don’t have that would do you well to pick-up.

In the startup called you, you’re the boss. And any good boss knows that job #1 is getting the resources you need to do great work. And if you don’t and you bomb, you’ve only got yourself to blame – and another round of starting up staring you in the face.

After all, in the world of work today every day is the startup called you.

Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab above. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub, as well as participate in my learning community courtesy of KnowledgeCrush.

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