✔ It's all about passion! - Passion 5: Growth [part 3]

Note: This is the 17th excerpt from my book "It's all about passion" which I wrote and shared as a gift to my readers and my Nozbe customers on my 35th birthday. You can get the entire digital ebook (PDF, Mobi or ePub) for free or buy from Amazon (all proceeds go to charity).

I will be publishing the entire book as a series of blog posts over the next weeks here every Friday, so you can read it bit by bit (I know you might be too busy to read an entire book at once). I'm also doing it to be able to "talk to you" about each chapter in the comments section below, so make sure to post your feedback, questions and your passion-related stories in the comments. Thank you for your passion!

"It's all about passion!" - The 7 types of passion I discovered over 7 years of running my productivity startup

It's all about passion - 17

Passion for Growth, part 3

Be passionate about growing as a leader

You are not born a leader. You become one. To grow your passionate startup you simply need to grow to become a great leader. You need to learn to lead people as it's the only way for them to do a great job and help you grow your startup business. You can't make people do great things. They have to achieve all this by following their leader. It's your job to do that.

You're here to help. And that's it.

When you're leading a company, your job is to help. You're in a business of helping your team achieve greatness. Every time I talk to anyone from my team, I keep reminding myself to ask the key questions: "How can I help you? How can I make your life at work better? What do you need from me to succeed?" and provide them with everything they need (within a reason of course). Stephen Covey talks a lot about it in the "7 Habits of Most Successful People" when he discussed Empowerment. It's your habit.

In German language an employee is "Mitarbeiter" - and if you translate it verbatim you'll have: "With-worker" - which I like to interpret as a person that works WITH you, not FOR you. Treat your people like that. Let them feel they work with you not for you.

Your passion is infectious. Spread the virus.

Passionate people inspire others. If you're passionate about your startup you have a chance to spread the virus and infect your team with some real passion and purpose. This virus will drive them to be greater than you ever expected them to be. They will follow you, learn from you and want to be like you. They will want to get better and they'll be equally passionate to grow themselves.

Build Triads because you are not a judge

In the book "Tribal Leadership" the authors talk about building triads - meaning the boss stops being the judge and empowers his team members to solve the problem themselves. In my team I have two very talented developers. Both work really great together but they fight a lot, too. When they struggle over the kind of technology we need to implement in our app, they go to me for a decision. I'm supposed to choose who's right. I never do.

I ask a simple question: "What's the objective here?" and they respond that the goal is to build a fast and easy-to-use time-management application that syncs with all the devices our users happen to have. And then I say: "Well guys, you're both the best guys for the job I know - go and figure out the best of both worlds of the two technologies you suggest. Find me a sweet-spot here. Do some more research and talk more about it. I know you'll do a great job together".

A week later they tell me they've decided what to do next and they've already implemented it... together. Isn't that great?

Learn new languages, markets and cultures

In August 2010 I saw something totally unexpected happening - lots of users from Japan were signing up for Nozbe and I had no idea how this happened. It was really spooky.

Suddenly there were thousands of new folks using my web application from a country in the Far East, where I didn't have a Japanese version of Nozbe or even a single person on our staff who could speak this language... and we started getting support questions in Japanese!

Again, when the fear strikes, it's time to pay attention and listen to it. Guy Kawasaki in one of his presentations about running a startup said that whenever a customer you never expected shows up at your doorstep do one thing: "Take the money". So I did and decided to learn a little more about Japan and investigate what actually happened and why some bloggers like Zonostyle and Shigatano are writing so much about Nozbe.

Fast forward one year and we already had a book in Japanese about Nozbe published, I visited Japan twice, made lots of friends in the process, started several business partnerships with some really fantastic Japanese companies... and begun learning the language. I even got myself my first Bonsai tree.

When you grow, the surprises never stop

Passion for growth should be an integral part of life. It's the key to your business venture... and you get surprised all of the time. When you grow, things never cease to amaze you. It still works for me like this.

  1. Surprised by an unlikely partnership

    When I took the decision to form a partnership with an external company to build iPhone and iPad apps and we chose a very strange business model for this, I was surprised it actually worked and how my whole startup took off. Most experts said I was crazy when I did it. The outcome keeps surprising them, too.

  2. Surprised by a new culture and community

    My experience with Japanese users felt like a roller-coaster drive and it was amazing. It surprised me how much I grew as a businessman while falling in love with a country and culture so far from mine and making some really cool friends in the process.

  3. Surprised how your team member's victories become yours

    The surprises just keep on coming. I'm constantly being surprised by the folks in my team when I see how they work and what they're achieving and how good they are becoming at their stuff. I love it. They surprise me with their attitude, approach, ideas... everything... and they enjoy seeing their own growth, too.

And finally you become surprised about your growth

When you grow as a leader, when you learn something new, you'll surprise yourself what you have become. How you're becoming a better person and others become better around you.

In a short book "10 distinctions between millionaires and middle class" I found a phrase that stuck with me: "Millionaires read books" - and I'm not an avid reader. It's not that I want to become a millionaire but I want to be a better person and what the book implied that these "Millionaires" are constantly growing by learning. I thought for a while about it an decided to change my habits and found out I wasn't a reader because I read slowly and never had time for it. I switched to audiobooks and suddenly from reading 2 books in 2009 I went up to around 30 in 2010. These were all the great business-related books I always wanted to read. By "reading" them I became a better leader and better businessman.

You grow, you learn, and you will be surprised how it improves your life and those around you.

When you help people around you grow, you want to grow that circle of influence even more

Out of your passion for growth comes the next one: to help others. In the next chapter I'll tell you an incredible story that happened to me upon my first visit to Japan. There will be drama, earthquake, tsunami... and lots of passion to deal with all this...

To be continued... or get the book free and continue reading :-)

Question: What can you do to grow and develop?

Posted on Saturday, December 13, 2014 (passionbook)

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