Thanks to everyone for sending in their questions. You gave us some interesting things to think about during this transitional period with the business. And I’m sure you won’t be surprised to find out that Alex and I often differ in our answers. Enjoy!
Melissa Johnson asks: Throwing out some Machiavelli. What’s better from a business standpoint, to be loved or feared?
I would absolutely say it’s better to be loved. Fear is a great motivator, but it’s all about someone else. It’s an external force. And once the worry of getting in trouble or concern of disapproval is gone, your employees may slack off. However, when their desire to put forth their most inspired work stems from an internal love of the job, it means they will continue to flourish no matter who is in charge. When they have a personal connection to the tasks required by their position, they will push themselves to be the best they can be out of pride and passion. And when they truly respect their boss, they will want to do their finest work for them. Not because they fear what will happen if they don’t, but because they want to impress and live up to the example that’s been set.
As nice as it would be if everyone always got along, the truth is that in a structure there is a hierarchy for a good reason. Everyone has talents, and their assignments and levels of responsibility must be recognized for the group to function as a whole. While fear is a negative and damaging emotion, a certain amount of authoritative respect is necessary, where personal devotion is a plus. When you hire people, you hire them to perform their job. You’re not paying them to like you. Nor should they feel as though they have to. Emotions are changeable and unpredictable, so if your business depends on people loving you, things are more likely to go wrong. But if they respect you as an authority figure and focus on the work, there is no reason emotion should get in the way of productivity.
Hannah Ruller asks: What is the best way to motivate yourself? Especially if you have big dreams to work towards and don’t have a Harriet to help.
Thanks so much for recognizing the great work that Harriet does. She’s grown immensely in this job, and it’s been gratifying and exciting to watch it happen.
And that is a big clue to what motivates me – other people! The incredible feeling I get from helping others keeps me energized and excited about what I do. I love seeing people live up to their potential, and having even the smallest part in making that happen leaves me gratified and fulfilled. I also enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to push each client forward in his or her life, or in the case of an organization or charity, how to help it get to the next level. It’s a fascinating puzzle!
I think the best way to stay motivated, no matter how large or impossible a dream seems, is to keep your eye on the goal and have a plan. The desire to build something, whether it’s a business or a life, takes a strong foundation. And the only way to move forward is to focus on one step at a time, making sure every step is done correctly with no shortcuts or rush jobs. Be steadfast and if you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, just concentrate on that next step and what needs to be done to do it right.
Several of you asked about our opinions of one another. We thought this question from Shiva was the most fun to answer: What do you think the other would say is your best quality?
My fashion sense of course!
Just kidding. I actually think Alex would say my best quality is my passion for what I do. He knows that I am totally dedicated to my work, and that I won’t give up on a project until I have seen it through until the end.
I think Emma would SAY my talent with numbers and spreadsheets (although I’m never really sure if that’s a compliment coming from Emma). But deep down I think what she actually admires is how dependable and straightforward I am. Not that she would ever admit it.
Tim Kreuter asks: As you embark on this new focus of Highbury, what have you learned about your own personal causes? What are they and have you always cared about those issues?
One of the things I’m most excited about is broadening my knowledge of the organizations that are doing good work, from making the planet a better, safer place to live to eradicating disease and poverty. I anticipate that as we become involved with different kinds of clients, we will each forge different connections with those that spark a personal reaction within us. I’m looking forward to seeing just what those are!
Historically, I have supported Operation Smile and Dress For Success, two organizations that help to make kids’ lives better in very different ways. Operation Smile provides free surgeries to repair cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities for children around the globe. The mission of Dress for Success is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. All things which are very Emma Approved!
I like the basics. Greenpeace and their commitment to protect the planet, freedom from hunger and Feeding America, and Habitat for Humanity’s worldwide attempts to provide everyone with shelter. Survival depends upon these things, and once you have the basics you can always build from there.