Standing by your values and playing big isn’t for the faint hearted.
Yes, the rewards are endless and totally worth it, but you are going to have to ruffle some feathers. In my experience, I’ve come across an unfortunate legacy in business of badly-behaved boys clubs.
These people think values and healthy boundaries, not to mention ethics and kindness, are a sign of weakness.
The same ‘club members’ will tell you ‘being a CEO is a lonely existence’ and ‘you need to build armour’. So imagine how they react when they ask ‘What’s your secret formula?’ and I answer, ‘Magic’.
Okay, I do probably say that to annoy them, but let’s talk about magic for a moment.
My definition of magic:
• To believe in something wholeheartedly
• To bring it to life with abundance and passion
• To create clear goals and non-negotiable boundaries based on a set of values. Magic!
That’s my secret formula. But the perception of this, even now, is that it’s some kind of witchy business. Luckily we probably won’t be burnt at the stake, but I question just how far we’ve advanced.
Watch out for Witch-Hunters.
It can become a real problem when somebody new comes into your business with their own agenda, and no understanding of your magic formula. If they don’t see how this ‘fluffy’ stuff could create a profitable and purposeful business, they immediately think it’s a fluke.
I’ve noticed that women in business tend to have magic as part of their DNA, making it look effortless. Don’t let people mistake this for weakness! Just because it looks easy to outsiders doesn’t mean it’s ‘fluff’.
If they don’t ‘get it’, others will form the opinion that ‘If this business was able to get this big on fluff, imagine what OUR genius approach will do—we’ll triple it with our eyes closed!’
And eyes closed is what they do. Magic, after all, is a mix of ingredients, one of which is creativity (something these people often lack). There are a few lessons here:
1. If an investor doesn’t value—in fact, HONOUR—the foundations that made a business great, don’t take the deal!
2. An investor’s role should be to empower the business and allow it to do more of what makes it great. They should also identify (in consultation and full transparency with the founder!) the things that are not great, and help take on the responsibility for making them better. Note—the weaknesses and opportunities a new person will notice are typically the things that don’t interest the founders!
3. If your values don’t align, no amount of connections, strategy or capital will be able to solve it.
So when I tell you to play a bigger game in business, be mindful that there are still some people with pitchforks who have made a living (and a shit load of money) with below-the-belt strategies, by demanding, taking control without consent, and following unethical practices to get ahead.
This is born out of a scarcity mentality, based on their inability to create magic themselves!
Walking away from a deal isn’t easy, and sometimes the other party will lash out in return.