This concept has come up repeatedly since before I started my current company, The W Partners. As a new business development professional at several small to medium sized advertising agencies, I was often able to uncover what I thought were some amazing opportunities. Home Depot corporate, Lowe’s corporate, Lane Venture Furniture were among several that come to my mind now. What I found with these opportunities, is that you are (your company, that is) only as good as your weakest link. Our teams did not have the caliber of talent to deliver on the opportunities. I did not match the opportunities to the team that I had aligned myself with at the time. This discovery led me to start my current marketing and advertising “Anti-Agency”. Let me explain.
“Where” I worked was always my focus. Was this a good opportunity for me as a career move? Can I be financially successful here? Can I make a difference here? I evaluated carefully what the opportunity was and I often (too often) discounted the WHO in the equation. I even went so far as to list the pro’s and con’s on paper and could probably dig up one evaluation I did on my last gig and show you evidence where I gave 1 star out of 5 to my “boss”. This individual, was a very shrewd and successful business person and admittedly a nice guy, but he was absolutely not a good boss. At least not a good boss for me, but since at the time my focus was more on the what than the who, I totally ignored the bad grade I gave him and accepted the job anyway. Fast forward to today. My business model dictates that I align myself with only the best of the best in each area of marketing, advertising and creative communications. This is not an easy job, by the way. Sometimes you have to test out partners, even though you have vetted them carefully, even though they may have performed for other people — nevertheless you and they are not the optimal fit. In this case, you may pay dearly for an important life and business lesson. Alas, I am, my company is, only as good as the weakest person on my team.
There is a great book out there called, “WHO”. It dictates that for you to be successful, you must solve your #1 problem – it is not a “what” problem it is a “who” problem. In short, you must surround yourself with A-Players. And further, to quote from the book, what defines an A player is critically important as illustrated in my story above…it goes like this, “What is an A-player? For one thing, he or she is not just a superstar. Think of an A Player as the right superstar, a talented person who can do the job you need done, while fitting in with the culture of your company. We define an A Player this way: a candidate who has at least a 90 percent chance of achieving a set of outcomes that only the top 10 percent of possible candidates could achieve.” Surround yourself with A players and your life gets interesting no matter what you pursue. My sentiments exactly!