The Homegrown CEO

My truck was involved in a hit and run accident on Tuesday; the necessity of having to make calls to Flo at Progressive and the San Francisco police caused me to be 10 minutes late and a bit harried when I met Jessica at her office in the Financial District. She extended her hand, and after a firm handshake, she said, “Tell me what happened…”

Immediately comfortable, I gave her the 30 second executive briefing on the crash and dash. She listened with genuine interest; I could tell she was a good active listener.

She needs to be- she is the CEO of Maven Recruiting,  a company that matches employers and potential employees. She listens, and thinks, and she creates solutions. Her reputation rests on developing and nurturing relationships. My 45 minutes with her and her erudite colleague Debbie sold me on Maven as a product. 

When you start a company, it’s your name and reputation that you put out there for the marketplace to kick around. It’s not for everyone, I am beginning to understand. It takes a certain chutzpah, bravado and energy to pull it off. One cannot be afraid of failure, and you better not be scared of success either. You just go, you dive in the pool…but you make sure you’re diving in the deep end before you jump. It’s calculated risk, a planned and researched adventure. You don’t go willy-nilly into a venture that presents the risk of possibly losing it all.

Successful entrepreneurs know that if it doesn’t work this time, they’ll try again, and again, and again. It’s in their DNA to create something special; they aren’t afraid of the minefield that is free enterprise.

Jessica presented well. She exudes a confidence that’s contagious. Listening to her talk to me I received yet another confirmation that I am doing work that I love: hearing about people’s dreams.

In the next week or so, in partnership with megastation KCBS, All News 740 and FM 1069, with their online arm CBS Interactive, homegrownceo.com will be launched. It will feature stories of dreamers who have made the leap and started their own enterprise. Jessica will be one of my interview profiles.

When they asked me to do this, I jumped. What an incredible job; listening to dreams realized. Every time I walk out of these meetups I feel refueled, energized and positive. How can you not be? These people I will be profiling are special; they’re not ordinary. They have an idea, the better mousetrap, and they have defeated resistance and the chatter of the nattering naybobs of negativism and took that leap of faith to pursue a goal. 

A sure as I’m sitting here composing this story, let me tell you a story that will save you hours or frustration and pain.

I had an opportunity to apply for a position of National Director of Social Media for a major American newspaper. I was walked in the door, and seated (virtually) next to the person who was making the hiring decision.

I knew I had no chance, not a chance in hell. Why? Because the successful candidate for this job is or was the National Director of Social Media for ANOTHER major American newspaper, and had a proven, verifiable track record of success doing that precise job. I had no chance in hell because I had not performed that specific task. There are too many National Directors of Social Media out of work right now; there’s no need to hire someone who needs a small bit of “ramp up”. I could do that job. I would kick serious butt doing it- but they will not hire me. I have no chance.

So why apply for any job, you might ask.

Unless you have a specific set of solutions for a company’s challenges, a specific roadmap to solve a problem the company knows (or doesn’t know they have), you are wasting precious energy in your search.

Focus. If you don’t know yourself well, now would be a good time to reintroduce you to…you. Find out what it is you do better than most; discover your strengths. You will then be able to identify companies that are worthy of your energy.

Maybe that “company” is You, Inc.

My new friend Jessica the homegrown CEO showed me something about focus, confidence and belief in a dream. Do not waste your talents on a lifeless un-nimble company that will suck the creative blood from your body and leave you as roadkill on the highway of dreams. Find the good match- find a dreamer that shares your enthusiasm for the same big ideas. You will be happier, wealthier and vastly more fulfilled.

Maybe Jessica can help you. You ought to ask her.

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