Always be pitching

When you’re trying to get a startup off the ground, one of the things you spend most time on is…

Pitching.

Of course you pitch for investment or just any sort of backing really, because you need the support and all the ressources, you can muster, for the journey ahead.

But the pitching doesn’t stop there;

You pitch to future team members trying to get them onboard with the mission, generate excitement and – hopefully – install the love of the problem, you yourself feel, and which you just know is the secret sauce that will be key to (a) getting them onboard and (b) getting them to give it their all.

You pitch to existing team members and collaborators all across the pitch as you try to keep hold of and build the coalition, you have worked so hard to create, out (because no, any chance of success is not just about you – it is always about the team), so that in turn can crank out some impressive results.

You pitch to your backers to keep them engaged, excited and confident that they made the right decision when they decided to support whatever it is that you’re trying to do.

You pitch when you sit in meetings with your team discussing what the next experiment should look like, how it should look, feel and perform, because you’re most often the direct link back to your customers and their needs, pains and gains.

And of course – and perhaps most importantly – you pitch to existing and future customers; you go about trying to understand how you can help them become better off, and you pitch different proposals for solutions to them until you find the one that resonates the most. And then build from there. And pitch again. That job NEVER ends. And shouldn’t.

But pitching is hard work, no matter the context. So not being afraid to pitch helps. And being a good communicator does, too.

So if you think you lack something in the communication department, maybe that’s where you should be looking to invest some time and perhaps a little money in your own personal and professional development.

My best bet is that it will be worth it.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

You’re (likely) not a pro

A couple of weeks ago, I ordered a new pair of shoes.

I don’t do that often – it’s kind of one yearly event – and I settled on a pair of ‘Nike By You‘ customized shoes. Not because I wanted to but because they were actually cheaper than some of the other models, I looked at.

Anyways, I started customizing. And because I didn’t want to customize, I asked myself:

“How can you make the most conservative shoe that goes with pretty much anything?”

The answer?

Make every choice as black or dark as you can. No frills.

So I did that. And I mused that the program had well over 5 billion combinations, when all I just ended up with was a black shoe.

Turned out, I didn’t.

I ended up with my shoe alright. But the devil was in the details.

A laze is not just a laze even if it’s black. And the lazes I had chosen, because I didn’t really bother and didn’t really give it the love, a custom design deserved, were a pair of lazes, I would otherwise NEVER choose.

My point?

I got a customized product that was customized indeed; a hodge-podge of various styles and parts that make them look like Frankensteins monster, and where my only comfort is that they are so dark, you won’t notice the weird choices, I have made.

Where am I going with this?

Even if you get the opportunity to design, chances are you will suck at it – unless you’re actually skilled or trained in it.

The same goes for any other craft, you obviously don’t really know anything about but where the combination of sheer naivety and stupidity combined with cool technology makes you think you’re a seasoned pro, where in fact you’re nothing but a full-blown amateur.

Do what you’re best at. And leave the other parts for the pro’s.

I’ll do that with the next pair of shoes, I invest in. Next year.

(Photo: Private)

Test your candidates

I am not only in the process of recruiting a Head of Product for our new MedTech X. I am also trying to find a new experienced UX/Designer for our inQvation Studio team.

The approach around recruiting is the same: Ditch the traditional job ad and application process and instead allow interested candidates to book an informal online interview so hear more and assess mutual interest.

The response has been pretty overwhelming with almost 20 interviews lined up so far.

It takes a lot of time, and you can debate whether it’s after all the right approach for a more junior role. But at least it gets the conversation going and get us in touch with some interesting candidates.

One of the things I have decided to do because of the interest is to develop a test for the candidates; a specific reallife test to assess how they think and what they produce in a ‘live situation’.

The candidates will be given a test that we ourselves have struggled with, i.e. solve it well and show us you have got what it takes to really make a difference in the team – which it is essentially all about.

The test both has a ‘thinking’ part and a ‘doing’ part. Both are super important to showcase for a candidate because it is what makes the complete team member.

We are not looking for someone to just do and not think. And we’re not looking for a thinker, who’s not a do’er.

We need and value the combo.

Candidates will be given a few days to complete and return the case, and it will be key to us deciding who to call back for a more in-depth interview.

After that? We shouldn’t be too far from a decision, which is all the more easier to make when you have a good, solid and ‘real’ test to look at.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

It takes a team to win

Great teams succeed together. A team full of individual stars lacking coordination and communication between the various positions fail no matter how good and expensive they individually are.

If those things are true in sports, does it come as a surprise that it goes for corporate innovation as well? A great football manager knows that in order to be successful with the team you recruit for players who fit the team and style of play centered around a shared philosophy for how the team should play – and win.

Greg Satell does a good job of noting the reasons why most corporate innovation teams fail. I think in many cases it can be boilt down to team – or the lack thereoff. Instead of building new teams, you should be focusing on augmenting the strengths you already have that have made your company successful so far. Succeeding in innovation is and always will be a team effort.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Treasure the soft skills

When you’re looking to solve a problem and improve something for someone, empathy matters. You need to be able to put yourself in the shoes of the customer, feel their pain and use the insight generated to fuel your product development efforts.

When we fail to employ empathy and other soft skills like it, we may get to fabulous solutions but we run short of understanding the problem. Solving a problem. And when we do that, the odds for success are very much stacked against us.

So treasure your soft skills. And if you don’t feel you have too many of them yourself, treasure the ones in your team who do. Because you need them in order to be successful in a truly outstanding way.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)