THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Epic

I’m really into the concept of surrounding myself and my clients with EPIC people at the moment.

Maybe it’s the dystopian political and footballing landscape to which we are rapidly becoming accustomed (will we regain our national mojo at the Olympics?) but I feel as if the time for zero tolerance on performance and behaviour is upon us (hence a few posts on the subject recently).

The word EPIC can be defined as “spectacular, very impressive, awesome” and yet also as

noting or pertaining to a long poetic composition,usually centered upon a hero,in which a series of great achievements or events is narrated in elevated style:

Both of which work for for me.

Because I’m not just searching for impressive people – I’m looking for heroes, customer service heroes, clinical heroes, IT heroes, marketing heroes and administrative heroes.

The deliberately politically incorrect “Urban Dictionary” takes a less optimistic view:

the most overused word ever, next to fail. for even more asshole points, use them together to form “epic fail.” everything is epic now. epic car. epic haircut. epic movie. epic album. saying “epic win” doesn’t make you sound any better, either. and FFS, don’t ever say it in person.

OK – point taken – but how else am I to describe the type of people I want working around me?

I was out running through a beautiful Luxembourg forest this morning and doing that usual thing we do in our heads (or is it just me?) – figuring out what a suitable acronym would be.

The acronym search engine on Google return 89 results for EPIC, the nearest relevant one being…..

Extraordinary People Impacting Community

A search on that web site reveals that they have moved to http://www.dosomethingepic.net – which returns an error as there is no site of that name – epic fail?

Ah well.

Back to the drawing board (and to my point).

Out running, I came up with:

Exceptional

Passionate

Industrious

Collaborative

To describe some of the main characteristics I would be looking for in every member of my team – suppliers, staff and even a fair share of epic patients/clients.

The big question I am asked every week is “can you make these people?”

Can you take an ordinary person and turn them into an EPIC team member?

Time to stick my neck on the block.

My answer is in two parts:

  1. yes – it is possible through training, consultancy, coaching and mentoring to take ordinary people and turn them into EPIC people;

  2. is it the function of your business to do that?

The second question is the kicker.

I prefer a more direct approach.

The function of your business is to solve patients’ dental problems.

The function of my business is to solve clients’ business and personal problems.

You and I are not in the EPIC training business (even though we can if we want to).

So a better (but more challenging) route for us is to find people who are EPIC already and headhunt them into our businesses.

One of my dental clients recently instructed me to help him find an EPIC business manager.

I headhunted the manager from another dental practice.

The manager was ready to move because her previous employer didn’t appreciate her enough.

Headhunting is a perfectly legitimate business activity.

You can headhunt within your sector or from outside.

Your own people can be headhunted (so you had better appreciate the EPIC ones).

The rules are simple – tell the truth and let people make their own minds up.

You can find EPIC people every day – they often work in customer service and frequently are customer facing.

So the next time you are on the receiving end of exemplary customer service in any retail or professional environment ask the person for permission to ask a direct question:

“is this a permanent role for you or are you looking for a career pathway?”

and if the latter is the case – get them in for interview, whether you need them now or not.

Recruit on attitude, train on skill – you’ve heard that here before.

Your single biggest challenge in business – FINDING EPIC PEOPLE.

They are age 18 to 80. They have diverse educational backgrounds. They inhabit every post code.

At the risk of mixing my metaphors.

They are needles in a haystack.

You will have to kiss a lot of frogs to find them.

The worst thing you can do is kiss a frog, realise it’s a frog and keep it – your business becomes a frog farm and the frogs are committed to extinguishing any EPIC people around them.

Ever noticed that’s what happens when small businesses become big businesses?

Frogs are FOMM – frightened of making a mistake.

Frogs are FOEP – frightened of EPIC people.

Fail frogs. Fail fast.

Turn your business into a poetic narrative of great achievement.

Find EPIC.

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