I recently, ahem, was part of a core team running one of the biggest events in startup-Jerusalem each year, in its 4th year. It’s a production put on with a lot of demands, a lot of resources, a lot of professionals, but the core team from within the company are not necessarily production careerists (though a couple of us are definitely).
Before this year, the event planning was fueled with stress, rife with resentment, and even filled with fear. This year was different. And I’ve been exploring why.
1. The revolution will not be televised – and will not happen without a good team.
For months we joked about filming a documentary of the event prep. We (I) didn’t do it, but if we had, it would have probably been side-splitting hilarious (to us). Something I learned was, any job – even the hardest, the ones that make you feel enslaved, depraved, and unappreciated – are actually awesome if the people around you are fun to have around, genuinely good people, and hardcore team players. That was a real turning point for me; why shouldn’t planning an incredible, complicated event be fun, if the people you work alongside inspire you to do your best possible job? The chemistry was right, the people were solid, and the goal was clear. It was a new level of teamwork we brought out from within ourselves.
2. A team is the sum of all its parts.
A few years ago I had this revelation. I was wondering why people would pay me to write for them. I knew practically why, but it was a symptom of impostor syndrome, and I really didn’t get it. I asked the question on twitter, and got a response: because they can’t do it themselves. They actually aren’t equipped with the skills.
Ever since then, I repeat this to myself. I’m not a logistics person; someone else is not a brand-builder. I’ll never run the finance department; someone else won’t be writing compelling invite copy. And so I build this appreciation every day for the people around me, diverse skill sets and frames of minds. Different career paths leading to this project; different life experiences to lend. I wish more people could appreciate how we all have something to contribute. If we acknowledge healthily what we lack and promote with vigor what others contain, we become a stronger force – with better results.
3. Ditch the dead weight – from your mental load
When working on such a massive, months-long project, it helps to leave behind the haters. The ‘this has nothing to do with me’ attitude of colleagues. Feeling held back by a need to convince everyone or try and infuse inspiration into every single colleague is not going to help me do a better job. I found staying focused on the end result was the right way – more calming, more productive. And luckily, from previous experience, we had the confidence to know we could keep moving forward and that we were right: it was going to be successful, amazing, and even better than we ever imagined.
4. Putting the ‘der’ in leader.
Ok, this is going to seem obvious but shutup it’s been three years and I still don’t always get it.
I find managing a team challenging. I freely admit it because I think it’s healthy and it prompts me to work harder to seek out mentors and case studies to learn from. I’ve had no direct mentor, and frankly, not always the best examples to learn from. So I’m winging it.
This was the first year I felt properly equipped to run my part of the event as far as personnel. So I knew I had no one to blame but myself if I mess it up. And there were plenty of pitfalls – delegation is still rough on me. But as the heat got turned up, I knew it was manager do-or-die – if the team doesn’t get to take the wheel, then what is the point of joining for the ride? I lose them now, I lose them in the future, too.
Last week I learned what it truly means to let go – of the doubt and fear – and felt such a new pride at this smart, proactive, flexible team I somehow found the insight to put together. The right people – true team players – seek out opportunities to grow and stretch their skills. They don’t just take orders but they own their roles and figure it out. We need to surround ourselves with people like that – at work, at home, in life. It’s what makes a manager a leader.
There’s so much more I could offer insight on – and forgive me, it’s been quite a hiatus from thoughtful posts in the last few months while I was running around, well, learning. For that we’d have to get a cup of coffee or maybe just a humble facebook chat.
After all, there’s still event followup to put together.