Have you heard the saying, “you are the sum of the company you keep”? If you think about the people you most hang out with, how would you describe them? Are they uplifting? Demotivating? Relaxed? Dynamic? Focused on material things? Focused on changing the world?
Think about this: what impact does your crowd have on the way you do business? And life?
I definitely agree that who you spend time with can have a real bearing on the way you think and act, so I found this article by Suneel Gupta an interesting topic – the 4 personality types leaders need in their inner circle.
Read the abbreviated article below or on the original site in full HERE
Psychotherapist Esther Perel says that relationships fail because we expect our partner to give us “what once an entire village used to provide.” Of course, that sounds like an obvious recipe for disaster and this is why marriage counselors regularly guide their clients to shift this burden from one person to a circle of people, including friends and family, each of whom fills a different need. Your spouse or partner is part of the circle, but not the full circle required to make you feel whole.
Strange as it may sound, this is also sage professional advice. Peter Thiel, the cofounder of PayPal and Palantir—and backer of startups including Yelp, Facebook, and Spotify—emphasizes the importance of his circle. He says the one thing he tries to do every day is to have a conversation with “some of the smartest people I know and continue to develop my thinking.”
In a time of Covid and lockdowns when it’s easy to get stuck in the same Groundhog-Day existence it’s more important than ever to break out of the tired ways we do things and build a circle of trusted advisers who bring different personalities and points of view. While each “backable circle” is different, there are four specific types of people (what I call “the four Cs”) I like to have in mine.
This is someone who’s going to help you expand your idea and improve your delivery. They’re not going to agree with everything you say, but all feedback is going to feel productive. When you’re with a collaborator, you feel like you’re in a musical jam session—riffing off each other and lifting your concept to a better place.
While your collaborator will help you figure out if your idea is right for the world, your coach will help you understand if an idea is right for you. Remember, just because an idea is a good fit for the market doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you. My wife, Leena, is my coach.
I’m constantly bringing ideas to her—sometimes annoyingly so. As a journalist who’s written for Fortune magazine, Leena has a strong sense of whether something fits the market but she has an even stronger sense of whether an idea fits me. The filter she uses isn’t simply “Is this a good idea?” but rather “Is this a good idea for Suneel?”
This isn’t the person who’s going to give you critical feedback, but rather the person who’s going to make you feel confident before you get in the room. Hockey players will warm up their goalie up before a game with practice shots that are easy to block. The goal, in those final minutes, is to build the goalie’s assurance, not his skill.
Your cheerleader can be anyone—a friend, a coworker, a spouse, or a parent. In 2012, Fast Company named Ellen Levy “the most connected woman in Silicon Valley.” Her network ranges from members of congress to CEOs of legendary companies. Yet, when I asked her who she goes to for a confidence boost before an important pitch she smiled and responded, “That one’s easy. It’s my mom.”
The fourth “C” is the most pivotal role in your circle. Your “Cheddar” is the person who will deliberately poke holes in your ideas, sometimes in a way that is deeply unsettling.
As a native of Detroit, I loved the movie 8 Mile and the namesake of this individual is a friend of Eminem’s. In the last scene of the film, Eminem’s crew is getting him ready for his final rap battle, giving him positive encouragement, when Cheddar all of a sudden brings up an unexpected question, which many of Eminem’s friends dismiss. It’s this stealthily valid point which later helps the rapper to disarm his opponent in the battle.
This is what Cheddars do best. They ask the tough questions so that we’re not hearing them for the first time from a backer.
Most of us tend to steer clear of the Cheddars in our life. We run away from people who can be the most critical of our ideas. But these are the people who get us best prepared, because backers are a lot like Cheddar. Their job is to find your blind spots. By playing exhibition matches with their Cheddars, people primed for growth discover the hidden problems with their own ideas. In the words of billionaire investor Charlie Munger, “knowing what you don’t know is more useful than being brilliant.”
Identify your four Cs and reach out to talk. My backable circle helped me see how each message was landing—and make adjustments along the way. And it all happened much faster than if we waited for schedules to align and meet in person. My virtual backable circle turned out to be something I’ll keep even when we can meet up again.Suneel Gupta is the cofounder of Rise, a nutrition coaching company. He teaches on the topic of innovation at Harvard University. His ideas have been backed by firms like Greylock and Google Ventures, and he has invested in startups including Airbnb, Calm, and SpaceX.