Saturday, January 11, 2014

No, Because

I'm always looking for ways to apply insights from other disciplines to the startup world.  The other night, I was at a parenting seminar, when the presenter (Kirk Steupfert) talked about the importance of "No, because."

What me meant was that when you're a parent, it's very tempting to respond to your children's constant requests with a gruff, "No!"

For those of you who don't have kids, you need to understand that the average child asks for something every 30 seconds or so.

Worse, as soon as you answer one question, your response is likely to trigger multiple follow-ups.

But Kirk's point is that simply shutting down a child's questions teaches that child that you don't care what they think or feel, and that whatever you're doing is more important than their needs.

"If I don't have a because," Kirk said, "I shouldn't say no."

"No, because" forces you to stop and actually think, rather than simply reacting.  It also demonstrates that you care enough about another's concerns to listen, understand, and then make a decision.

Many of the same concerns that apply to parents apply to entrepreneurs (and doubly so for entrepreneurs who are parents): You have too much to do, too few resources, and precious little sleep.

And like parents, entrepreneurs are probably tempted to say "No!" rather than "No, because..."

One of my old mentors, who spent some time as the CEO of a publicly traded, multi-billion dollar company, told me about how his team eventually bought him a baseball cap with the acronym "JFDI" in honor of one of his favorite phrases (translation: "Just F--king Do It").

But all those pressures are precisely why entrepreneurs and CEOs need to adhere to "No, because...."

The only one keeping you honest is you.  If you don't treat your people well, they're not going to sit you down and carefully educate you.  Unlike children, they can--and will--leave.

1 comment:

Tim Hofmann said...

Good concept. Looking at this, I do this with my employees but not with my (demanding, inquisitive) 3.5-year-old.

I make it a point to answer all her questions, including the unending string of why? but when she asks for something I don't think is reasonable, I'll shut her right down with a NO. ugh.

Thanks for this!