There are extensive discussions worldwide concerning the current global pandemic status and the various forecasts for how scientists and economists anticipate what the world will look like post-pandemic. Aviation, manufacturing, investments, hospitality, education, and high tech will all face an impact. Alongside this inevitable impact, enterprises will also have to face the negative outcomes of laying off workforce, reducing costs, and industries that will struggle to exist. At the same time, new opportunities, markets, and technologies that have yet to be discovered will rise due to this crisis. Respected investors have also shared their points of view and tips for entrepreneurs on dealing with this pandemic. Additionally, these investors have secured new funds designated to support their entrepreneurs. Even a call to action has been placed for other investors to keep the industry up & running.
Did you know controlled fires are required for maintenance in the forest once in a while to prevent dangerous growth? Some seeds can only begin to germinate after undergoing an intense level of heat exposure. Sometimes, a dramatic change is a foundation for establishing many new beginnings, both physically and spiritually. This change comes from within our core, at the heart of it all, and refines our way of pursuing what really matters in life.
Imagine Atlas, the Greek mythological Titan of astronomy, standing tall amongst men as he maintains his foothold against the crashing waves. This same picture depicts that of a startup CEO. Sometimes, even with easy access to all of the tech tools & investor knowledge in the world, these resources still may not be enough for a CEO to smoothly run his startup, especially when the tide is high. I feel that "When the going gets tough, the tough get going" rings true for both founders & investors. Across both roles, resilience is measured on both sides. It's not only up to the startups to be agile, react, fine-tune and lead their companies, but also for the VCs to support, invest, and make sure those new technologies can continue to help this world be a better, more resilient place.
That is where a Performance Coach fits in, to help both CEOs and investors lay the framework for their businesses and give them their competitive edge. Uncertainty, instability, elastic thinking to leverage opportunities, and focusing everyone in the right direction are where a founder's leadership skills are truly tested. A startup's human capital is the best ROI to provide a VC, as it is the VC's most crucial investment parameter––the team and its founders. Here, amidst this crisis, lies the opportunity to ensure this ROI by supporting founders and giving them the right tools. To borrow the words of JFK, "Ask not what your country can do for you––ask what [...]" a Performance Coach can do for your portfolio company? Hopefully, what I discuss next will help explain how invaluable the use of a Performance Coach can be to a startup and the VC that funds it.
It is a well-known axiom that entities are shaped and modeled by their leaders. What separates the wheat from the chaff, and makes the difference between a good and excellent startup, is a fresh perspective from the outside that helps its leaders focus, prioritize and refine their model. This new perspective is that of a Performance Coach, such as John Mattone, William Campbell, Peter Chee & Connie Dieken, who are all legendary in their field. Just Google them for their comprehensive lists of clientele and impact.
1. Reveal Blind spots
As a CEO, you know how to run your company and what you want. You might even know there are things you don't know but aren't aware of just how much you don't know. Confused? Sometimes, it's not easy to look inside and find the right answers by yourself. A Performance Coach brings knowledge, experience, and a bigger perspective to the table and can map out the dark spots to show you the way. A Performance Coach can assess the situation and help you see the whole picture, to help you see the long-term outcome, and calibrate your actions accordingly in the short run. When you reach a dead-end or go through life with tunnel vision, feeling like you're in a rut, a Performance Coach can present an ocean of possibilities.
2. Multiple Personalities
As a jack of all trades, the CEO is busy tending to all of their business, whether raising funds, recruiting, serving as a product manager, marketing, etc. The position can be exhausting and is a slippery slope. However, a Performance Coach can help a CEO recognize their critical objectives crucial to matching their long-term strategy. They can enable the CEO to shape and instill a culture of efficient performance management throughout the organization.
3. Broad Perspective
Many CEOs are very experienced, but they are more often than not limited to a specific domain and field, such as tech, marketing, sales, product, etc. Yet, when it comes to telling their story and communicating it effectively to the public, whether to employees, customers, investors, or even board members, they tend to come up short. A Performance Coach can bridge this communication gap and shape the narrative to show a panoramic view of the market, trends, and customers' needs. An excellent coach can further communicate the message both internally and externally, shaping a core message to accommodate various audiences.
The transition to strategic thinking could prove to be challenging. The CEO of a startup is busy keeping the boat afloat, fighting the waves, and navigating to stay afloat for another day. In the early stages of a startup, the CEO worries about the here, the now, and the future. The switch to long term strategic planning is an entirely different, new ball game. It requires the development of a new set of skills. Of course, time does what it does best––it keeps moving, and a Performance Coach can help a CEO so they don't lose sight of their objectives and the company's strategic goals.
VCs can assess a good investment, go over the numbers, the market potential, see one's experience, and attempt to evaluate a founder's role. Although in my opinion, the most important thing is to assess the resourcefulness of the entrepreneur. Resourcefulness is a mindset. It's the ability to always land on your feet and persevere with all your might. It is especially relevant at times of uncertainty when the goals are difficult to achieve or the vision becomes blurry as reality changes. With a resourceful mindset, you are more driven to find a way. A resourceful mindset requires elastic thinking, the generation of new ideas, and the ability to visualize all the possible ways to achieve them. Resourcefulness embodies a positive entrepreneurial spirit through energy, decision-making, and leadership. So can how a Performance Coach help a VC curate and empower the right entrepreneurs?
5. High Self-Esteem
Entrepreneurs need to believe they are capable of handling any problem placed in front of them. Our inner-dialogue and self talk is a crucial part of the belief that we are competent and adequate enough to achieve what we desire. Our inner strong belief is the first step we take in getting things done. When the entrepreneur is self-confident and appreciates him/herself, it’s easy for him/her to like and trust him/herself. Supporting the entrepreneur in evaluating his/her value and helping them appreciate their strengths, talents, work ethic and ability to deliver - are super important steps to help them build their resilience. Their resilience is the best ROI for the VC.
There are various methods and coaching tools to build resilience, which is what I aim to accomplish when working with my entrepreneurs. One of the startups I'm coaching has recently launched their new app, GGTUDE, based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)––the most researched psychology treatment nowadays. GGTUDE's platform is another excellent tool for entrepreneurs to use in times of uncertainty, especially before key moments of performance or making tough decisions. The app's technology addresses this exact aspect of self-esteem and how to shift our inner beliefs into positive ones. It's a beautiful example of how technology, performance, and startup coaching combine well and provide pure value.
6. Elastic Thinking
As a VC, you want to ensure that you keep an entrepreneur open-minded and encourage them to passionately break boundaries to redefine possibilities. You want an entrepreneur that remains open when considering new ideas that differ from their own, one who is passionate about their solution but doesn't blindly fall in love to their detriment, and one that thinks with their mind & heart rather than ego.
Being open-minded makes your entrepreneur both rich and more capable of reaching––rich in opportunities and ideas, and capable of reaching various employees, partners, and customers. Open-mindedness keeps them vigilant and with the ability to function under any set of circumstances. This is how a resourceful entrepreneur attains success, while those who are less resourceful give up on their dreams. As a VC, you must help your portfolio companies break out of their comfort zone and develop their resourcefulness.
You must act! Proactivity is the spirit you want to instill in your entrepreneurs. I see the need to act from a broader perspective, where acting is a conscious decision to stop, be present for a while, and re-evaluate the situation. After that, physical action can take place, one way or another. Being proactive is our inner ability to observe, feel, use all our senses to map out the situation, and proceed by choosing the right way to address it. Being proactive is to lead, not to wait for others. Being proactive is not to be afraid, but allow yourself the ability to make mistakes. Here again, you observe, gather insights, and address them. I like to call it our modus operandi, our ability to be proactive in every sense of our entrepreneurial lives.
There is no room for waiting. Our mission is to engage, create, get things done, improve, and react to external circumstances without freezing. The way we cope, act, and deal are as good as our resourcefulness level, which is a significant indicator of our venture's growth & success. Being proactive is being solution orientated, but towards a smart solution that possesses unique value. Altogether, this is why I believe that being proactive precisely requires the ability to be poised, present, map, assess, and then act.
8. Get Things Done
As a VC, you want to work with an entrepreneur who will never give up––not when a global crisis is in the air, nor when the path is not crystal clear. You want to work with the kind of entrepreneurs who will never stop trying until the problem is solved. Whether they are young and restless, or older and experienced, you want to make sure they have this internal drive that will always find a window when the door is closed. It's not always easy to maintain this state of mind, to be able to receive the lessons and understand our gain.
That's what a Performance Coach does, help an entrepreneur pursue their success, fall, try again, fall, and try again in a million other ways. A Performance Coach helps them strengthen and sustain this internal drive to win, be persistent, committed to succeeding, and take every failure as a lesson and opportunity to do better. They coach the entrepreneur to discover their internal motivations and shape their discipline as fundamental parts of building their DNA, skills, and ability to cope with failures.
To develop a resourceful mindset, one should be willing to consistently improve themself, open to learning new things and do everything in their power to keep up with the industry and global trends. This notion goes for VCs, their investors, the startup, and its founders. Being resourceful is the key to building resilience. This resilience is a critical factor in the startup's success, and as a result, the success of the VC.
Being a CEO is a very lonely ride with many stressors influencing their actions and results. Stress comes from those closest to us, such as our investors, peers, spouse, family & employees. Sometimes, it also comes as tiny as an invisible virus that impacts our entire business. Without a proper support system, an entrepreneur might collapse. Having a Performance Coach for the CEO to lean on, consult with and have someone who really sees them for who they are, is an essential part of the startup's growth. Coaching is pure value to the CEO, leading to better results and a fantastic ROI for the VC that believed and invested in them.