Start-up culture is corrupting our youth and killing real entrepreneurship

I came accross this article by Lukas Mikelionis on The Telegraph and I couldn’t agree more. For the record: it’s a “black-or-white” titles because they make us think and adjust where needed.

Imagine the sort of person that runs a start-up. How would you describe them? Probably using words such as “young”, “ambitious”, “innovative”. They probably embody that meaningless expression “nothing is impossible”. This is the problem with start-up culture: it has created a myth that has the power to ruin lives.

I know it might sound as a negative story, but it’s not. Believe me, I coach me kids to follow their dreams and coach them about “learning by doing”, but I also coach them about wisdom of the “old people” and “respect” and “savoir vivre” and “hard work”.

“Unfortunately this notion that it only takes a “killer idea” (preferably something based on an app) and just enough funding to conquer the innovation-hungry consumers is a lie. It goes against traditional business-making practice, where companies respond to the demands of consumers rather than the other way around. True, we all heard stories of successful innovators who indeed delivered revolutionary products to the consumers, but it’s perfectly reasonable to doubt that every millennial has the same trick up their sleeve.”

I probably sound very old school now, but I believe I’m where I am because I always surrounded myself with people who are older and wiser and took the time to absorb their experience and do better. Not because I found capital for my crazy dream. Finding capital is just a tiny part of realising that dream and it’s not too difficult either. So yes, I listen a lot to the opinions of grandma, mum, dad and experienced business people to make our platform bullet-proof.

Don’t get me wrong: I also listen a lot to the rookies in our team, or when I teach at Real Madrid Sports MBA or when I was a coach for the Founders Institute. I love their energy and disruptive thinking. I give them lots of opportunities but in the end I have to make sure that Herculean.coop becomes a global success and that won’t be achieved overnight.

“Even when true innovation happens, there’s increasing tendency not to attempt to create a business with a long-lasting plan, but instead chuck it towards larger corporations in exchange for a handful of cash. Business cards stating “serial entrepreneur” – those who move from project to project – are becoming a norm. The idea of nurturing a company is in terminal decline. In the past, making sure that the company is thriving and has a competitive edge used to be the defining aspect of good entrepreneurship. Nowadays, by contrast, selling your company for a life-changing sum of money is the mark of success. This breeds a new type of entrepreneurship, which centres on the short-term boom, and turns the creation of start-ups into an industry itself. Start-up culture shifted the focus away from company ownership to either “get rich by selling” or participating in never ending game of start-up creation.”

I get that question often: When will you sell? When will you exit? My answer is always the same: we are building a sustainable cooperative platform, a system, powered by Herculean people and we are trying to structure it with all the lessons learned in our many years of corporate experience, keeping into account the disruptive future ahead of us. It’s like raising a kid, and with 3 kids I know a thing or two about raising them and letting go 🙂 When the time has come to let go, I will, but let’s enjoy every step of the journey!

“When they go low, we go high”

My Third lady (Inge Van Belle is my First and my mum Second :-)) gave an epic speech about values and beliefs. I couldn’t agree more and thought it was more than appropriate to store it as “one of those moments”.

The more perceived “success” you have, the more people will “go low” on you. Don’t fall into the trap and just ignore the hateful. Go high instead! Stay true to your values and beliefs. Lead your Herculean life, don’t sit back, make a difference and never ever quit.

2016: Freedom it is!

Every year, we discuss our NY resolutions and pick a word that describes the whole theme.

2015 was all about “ambition”. Looking back at our initial plan and the experiences we had, the word was spot on. The song that influenced us the most was The Nights from Avicii.

For 2016, Inge came up with “Freedom” as it sums up all of our plans. I wanted to share Pharrell’s performance on the roof of the Tonight Show because that describes very accurately. However, it was nowhere to be found. The official version will do just fine. Have a Herculean one and let your firstname be Free lastname be Dom!

Successful vs Unsuccessful people

Many people or even other companies believe that they will become successful by hitching their wagon to a successful company. That’s the worst nightmare of any company as I believe nothing could be further from the truth.

I believe that success highly depends on yourself and that successful companies are created by successful people who create a culture for success together, based on believes and common values. So in fact, it’s the other way around. You need successful people to create amazing customer experiences and build successful companies.

Just like any other company, we constantly struggle with “how to know if somebody’s going to be successful?”. In fact, as we have cool products, it’s even more difficult because people really believe Herculean’s success is “easy” to achieve. They don’t grasp how much hard work and suffering is required to be part of our team.

Nobody wants to hire people who will run into a brick wall eventually. It’s a waste of energy and if you hire too many unsuccessful people, it can even jeopardise a successful company. Believe me, I had my share too over the past 20 years.

So, can you know? We now use techniques like personality types and core talents and interviews with our core team and coaches to reduce the risk, but even then you can’t be 100% sure of a person because a lot depends on the person himself every single day. Unsuccessful people are pretty good in covering up for their bad habits. However, successful people have a great radar to discover the frauds out there (they just have to trust their radar, but that’s another topic). So my believe is:

  • test enough before you start
  • build in a trial and make it clear it’s a trial with clear personal objectives
  • follow them closely, get them out of their comfort zone to see how they react, go through a crisis together and nurture open communication
  • hire them when you are 200% sure they are successful people
  • if you see during the process they are unsuccessful, don’t hesitate to say goodbye or even better: let them make their own conclusion (increasing pressure usually does the trick). You are doing yourself and them a big favor. For sure, they will complain, hold grudges and speak bad about you, but the longer you wait the more they actually will. Don’t worry about the grudges and gossip. Just worry if successful people do that.
Can unsuccessful people be coached into success? Probably, but as Georges Anthoon would say:
I recently saw a post from my dear friend Bev Mileham, which is a pretty good comparison to help you discover who is successful and who isn’t:

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So, are you successful? Have a Herculean day!

 

Speed as a habit

People who work with me on a daily basis know one of my firm believes: “the need for speed“. I can become quite “passionate” when things don’t go faster than I expected or when people don’t understand they can do things a lot faster than they think. Every day I make it my mission to speed up the way things go in my daily tasks, but also within our team.

I know…it can feel like a lot of pressure, but if I don’t give you pressure, I probably don’t believe you can grow any further, so stop complaining and deal with it. You would be surprised about the speed you can reach.

Here’s a very nice article that illustrates why speed is a great weapon in business.

Why The Annual Performance Review Is Going Extinct

Employees don’t need annual performance reviews to know how they stack up against their peers says Kris Duggan on FC.com. I couldn’t agree more. At Herculean, we believe in three simple things when it comes to building breakthrough teams. They are based on The Orange Revolution:

  • WOW: go for worldclass
  • Open Communication: no surprise
  • Cheer each other to victory

When you practice open communication, everybody knows at all time how they are performing. They not only know it from their boss, but from all their peers. Read the complete article here.

Shifting from Star Performer to Star Manager

“You’ve always been a high achiever—top of your class, captain of your sports teams, star performer at work. Now, you’re going to be managing a team of high-performers in a division of your company that everyone’s buzzing about. You’re confident that you can navigate this new challenge with characteristic success.”

You’re pumped. You set clear goals for yourself and targets for the division. You’re well aware that you’ll need to rely on your emotional intelligence skills to understand and work through your new team’s dynamics. You’re focused on achieving your goals and getting results… but before long, you’ve got problems. Your team doesn’t seem to be on board with your plan and they’re not delivering. Worse, they seem to be shutting you out. In desperation, you go to a few trusted mentors who tell you:

“You’ve inherited the cream of the crop. I’m not sure they even really need a manager, they’re that good and that motivated.”

“These are our stars. You noticed, I’m sure, that you’re the third new manager appointed in the past two years?”

It turns out it’s not so easy to manage ultra-smart high achievers — especially when you’re one of them.

Awesome read on HBR.com.