Problems and Intensity
One of the most important traits in a leader + stuff I read this week
Today at a glance:
Why no newsletter last Sunday?
On problems and intensity. Why do i think this is one of the most important traits in a leader? 2x true if you are not technical
Stuff I read this week
Why no newsletter last Sunday?
Last weekend was the SVB crisis. If you are reading this there is a high % chance that you were somehow impacted. It was a tough weekend. And the hard part is that we are far from clear.
Similar to you, last weekend I was consumed by work and the SVB news. It didn’t feel right to share something other than SVB. I don’t know enough on the issue so I stayed quiet.
One week out and there are many learnings and many tailwind effects. Some of them are already in motion.
On problems and intensity
Problems are inevitable. They must be faced.
Think that one of the most valuable traits in a leader, especially early stage, is how they handle problems. Let’s unpack.
Things will go wrong. There will be high highs and low lows. The hard thing is handling the non-obvious problems early.
If we are hit with a glaring issue (ex. server outage, unfair PR, someone backing out of a deal in bad faith) - we can solve these in the moment. There is nowhere to run - the glaring issue is staring us in the face. It’s time to solve.
The harder part are smaller issues. They grow over time. They metastasize throughout the company. They grow because they are aloud to grow.
Problems grow because they are not recognized and they are not addressed.
“Rivers are easiest to cross at the source”- a roman slave
Often we hope that things will be better. We hope that someone else will solve it for us, that the team will figure it out, that the market will turn around etc.
All of these are flawed. For example, if the market turns around - it will turn around for us and our competitors, but we still have our issue. We will long-term get buried with our unsolved problem.
I forget who said that “hope is not a strategy”. They are right.
So what? A few things:
We need to be aware of the problem. We can spend pages discussing self-awareness and ego-less decision making, but in sum, we are all ridden by biases. There are many reasons for why a known problem is aloud to metastasize. Fear to face it, ego, self-confirmation or one of many other biases.
Next, we can try changing our POV. We have some view that led us to this issue. Could that view be wrong? By changing our approach to the problem we might be able to solve it. This involves taking ownership of the problem. Everything in the business is our responsibility. There is no hiding. How do we change our POV? Seek new info and act on it. Be brutally honest about what is reality. What am I not seeing? Could I be wrong in assessing this?
Act. With intensity. Today. The best builders/leaders I know are obsessed with action. They take massive action. They do not tolerate blockers. By taking massive action they (1) move their business forward, (2) build culture and set an A+ example for their team, (3) improve their decision making ability with each action. It’s almost unfair how much of an edge they have vs others just by acting with intensity and attacking problems. If we are dealing with a problem and someone says - yeah I will get back to you tomorrow or let’s build a plan to solve it this week. No. Why not today? - And then I would set an example and do it.
Watch out for smaller problems that grow over-time. Rivers are easies to cross at the source. Everything can be improved from product to culture to marketing to how we meet (or don’t meet).
And when faced with problems - go after them with immense intensity right away.