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a blog by Chris Barrow

Why paddling your own canoe requires 4G’s from you and your team

In the October issue of Wired UK, there is a fascinating interview with Debbie Wosskow, CEO of Love Home Swap, launched in 2011.

Debbie is a serial entrepreneur and now runs Allbright, a female-focused investment fund.

Here are some extracts on what it takes to be successful in business:

  1. “Coming from a Jewish immigrant culture, I grew up around people who started their own businesses. The talk around the dinner table as a kid was about business. In that sense, I’ve always been business-minded”;

  2. “Startups are really hard for the founder because you don’t earn any money for years. It’s not for the faint-hearted. So my whole mantra of “what’s the worst that can happen?” is very applicable at 25 years old but it’s harder to do that at age 40 when you’ve got a mortgage and two children;”

  3. “The most successful entrepreneurs have particular qualities. I call them the three G’s – Graft – there is no magic to this, you have to work really hard. Grace – things happen and tempers flare and you’ve got to look for people who are gracious enough to inspire teams but also able to get shit done. Grit – because you can have days, weeks and months when things aren’t going right;”

  4. “Hiring people is really hard. Even when you have experience it’s still easy to make big and expensive mistakes, so my advice would be always take your time. Whenever you are rushing a hire and think “that’s fine, they are good enough” they are generally not the right hire for your company;”

Very interesting and lessons for us all.

If I may be so bold, I’d like to add a fourth “G” to get list:

  1. Grudge or Goal – a characteristic of many of my clients is that they are driven by earlier setbacks (perhaps a poor upbringing or parents who suffered some form of discrimination) and have channeled their feelings into specific goals for success.

Once again quoting Wosskow:

“With potential business opportunities, the three tests for me are:

  1. if it keeps you awake at night;

  2. if you can see that it would work on Excel;

  3. if you feel you can understand the customer.”

Yesterday’s blog was all about recruiting people with the right attitude.

I wonder whether we can learn from Debbie Wosskow to ask four questions about anybody that we hire:

Has this person got:

  1. Graft – will they work as hard as I do?

  2. Grace – will they stay calm under pressure?

  3. Grit – will they keep going when it gets tough?

  4. A Grudge turned into a Goal – do they have a compelling reason to succeed?

And, dare I say it, could we ask the same questions about ourselves and our current team?

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