Taking a Mental Break

This morning I hosted a workshop for the founders and CEOs of early-stage, high growth companies. To say that I absolutely loved the vibe and the passion would be a massive understatement. I would pin the average age of attendees somewhere in the mid-thirties (and I brought that age up with some of my invitees!).

There is a vibrance in the Toronto startup community that is difficult to ignore. The group today was perhaps the best indication of a future in our city that has never been brighter. And I can tell you this. Not a single one of the millenials in the room today had any trace of the common stereotypes that Gen Xers love to hold onto. These were people that fogies like myself can truly learn from, not just from their technology and social media prowess (which is significant by the way), but because of their passion to make the world a better place. I am inspired by them!

But in the lead-up to today’s event, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends. It’s 7:28pm and I’m part way through my first beer (A phenomenal brew by Great Lakes called “As Far Back As I Can Remember”). This beer feels a lot like another and I need a mental break.

So I’m going to take my own advice and not force this post. Instead, I’d like to put a few points out there that were discussed at length today.

  1. Core Values are the beginning of everything strategic in businesses big and small
  2. It’s not enough to list your values. You have to LIVE them. Culture can be deliberately created, but only if values are embedded in everything you do.
  3. It’s important to tell your customers and employees WHY you’re in business. The best way to do this is to come up with a list of beliefs that drive your thinking
  4. The North Star of your business is your mission statement (externally focused) infused with a rigourous focus on the economics that can support the business
  5. If your strategic priorities don’t align with your North Star, they need to find the trash bin…and quickly
  6. Every strategic priority needs to have some pathway, direct or indirect, to revenue or cost savings. Early stage companies simply can’t afford to waste time and resources on priorities without an economic justification
  7. Your time thieves are your biggest enemies, especially if they go undetected.
  8. Time thieves always fall into one of 3 categories
    1. Tire-kicking potential clients
    2. Alluring initiatives that don’t align with your North Star
    3. Task hoarding (translation – lack of delegation)

While all these components are absolutely critical for early-stage businesses, they are no different for 10,000 employee companies. The only difference is that the stakes are higher for the former and complacency tends to be a serious problem in the latter.

It’s 7:41 and it’s time for the next “As Far Back……screw it. Over and Out.


30 Minutes

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Brent C. Wagner