(Ryan Patrick is a contributing editor to The Daily Blur. He’s not only handsome but a mighty fine writer. You can check out his growing archive of posts here.)
Last weekend, my daughter celebrated her 9th birthday with a sleepover party. Seven girls under the age of 10 created unforgettable memories while causing irreparable damage to my eardrums.
As they partied hard way past my bedtime, I began to see several striking similarities between a gaggle of pre-pubescent girls and a workplace of post-adolescent adults.
Here are a few of the business lessons I was reminded of by my daughter’s friends:
1. Surround yourself with trusted associates. My daughter’s process of narrowing down a list of invitees is comparable to a President selecting his cabinet. She didn’t invite just anyone. She invited girls who are, at this moment, the principal peers in her life. She has lots of friends, but these are the girls she entrusts with her most precious thoughts, dreams, and secrets.
Lesson: Do you have an inner circle? A group of people who will listen to your dreams, brainstorm ideas, offer sound advice, talk you down, or snap you out of your funk? No man is an island. You need people. Choose them well.
2. Ask for input. Be prepared to change your mind. My daughter wanted to play Vet Hospital. Her friends wanted to play Hotel. She could have easily played the Birthday Card and demanded they do things her way, but she acquiesced. Fifteen minutes later, the girls grew tired of Hotel and played Vet Hospital after all.
Lesson: You don’t always have to play the Boss Card. Asking for input and giving your employees what they want (even when it goes against your best judgment) makes them feel appreciated. Give it time. They may end up coming around to your way of thinking anyway.
3. Choose who you will exclude. The sign says it all.
She made it clear that moms, dads, little brothers, and Sophie (our mutt) were not allowed in the discussion. This talk was for fourth grade ears only. Period.
Lesson: When marketing your business, do you water down your message in an attempt to appease everyone? Or do you risk alienating certain sectors of the population to clearly and unashamedly convey your core beliefs to a specific audience? You define who you are by what and who you choose to exclude. Broadcasting a message that tries to reach everybody ends up not being heard by anybody. As my partner and mentor Roy H. Williams says, “The risk of insult is the price of clarity.”
4. Look for creative ways to solve a problem. At one point during the sleepover, I overheard one of my daughters friends say, “Let’s settle this like women. PILLOW FIGHT!!!”
Lesson: There’s always more than one way to solve a problem. Some are more unique than others. Every now and then, break out the pillows.
5. Have fun.
Lesson: Have fun.