My Advice to Leaders

As an entrepreneur, you are literally fooling yourself if you think you can hire away your problems; the more people you hire, the more challenges you have. If you think you can just bring someone in and hand them everything, and they're going to take care of it and figure it out for you, you are mistaken. Your problems are yours, and they are not going anywhere.

This is some of the most discouraging news I can share. Because we've all been there, right? We have strengths, we have weaknesses, we wear all of these hats, how can we possibly do it all? We can't. And so we want to hire people, we're going to hire people who are better than us at that given task or that given role so they can come in, and they can do what we don't want to do. They can come in and do what we can't do, and they can do it better. So the company can get better as a whole.

And while it's true that you want to hire people who are better than you at their given task, you want someone who can come in and own it, and figure it out and help you get better. Where we screw up as entrepreneurs is when we hire someone that we want to have come in and we go, “Thank goodness, you just take care of everything”. They don't know our business. They don't know how we think, they don't know our culture, they don't really know what we want. They don't know our customers or our product that well. And ultimately, they are not entrepreneurs. They are not business owners, they are not the self-starters, or they don't think the way we do.

So you can't just give them part of your business and say, “You take care of this, you run with it, because they are not going to figure it out”. And guess what, three months, six months, nine months go by and you wonder, “Why haven't they done anything?” and then you fire them. This is the cycle that entrepreneurs fall into because they think that there's no one good out there. But the problem is, you need to lead it, you need to be an active part of it. And you need to know it well enough to know whether they're even doing it or not.

You need to manage them. You need to onboard them. You need to teach them, you need to lead the processes, otherwise, your problems and your challenges aren't going anywhere. Just because you've hired someone who you think is really great, in six months, in nine months and 12 months, they're going to disappoint you and they're going to be out and then you're going to go through two or six 10 different versions of this, and year after year is going to go by and you're going to question, “Why is there no one good out there?” This is a trap that all entrepreneurs fall into.

And no matter how many people we've hired, how many teams we've grown, we all are susceptible to it. It still happens to me all the time; when I decided that I wanted to start doing this, make content and build Instagram and YouTube, it was so tempting for me to run out and hire someone or put a team member on creating this content. But instead, what I did, I filmed all of the stuff myself. I put in 24 hours a week of editing time, on top of my normal 50-hour workweek to create the content; while I couldn't do it week after week after week, I did it enough to know, “What are my processes? What is it I have to do? How long does it take? What type of person am I looking to hire for?” and then I brought on Jason to help me film stuff because I couldn't film everything myself. But I still did all of the processes and it hit the point where I was so completely overwhelmed with creating and putting out all this content seven months in, I hired a full-time person whose full-time responsibility is to create videos like this.

When Steve came in, I was like, “Oh, thank goodness, you're here. Here you go, man. Here's all of the footage”. We had 36 pre-recorded messages backed up that hadn't been edited. What he needed to succeed was, I couldn't expect him to come up with processes, I had to come up with processes for him, and then allow him to tweak them and work with them so they would work for him. I had to come up with the release schedule. And then Steve came to me and said, “Mark, this schedule is crazy. I can't do this”. So then we adjusted it. I had to lead the creative ideas at first so that way, he could get his feet wet and get an understanding of our brand. I had to dictate the music. I had to dictate every decision for the first few months. And while I was hoping he would just come in and, with all of his creative genius, just lead, everything wasn't going to happen.

But where we are now, six months in, Steve is making more decisions. He's leading his own calendar, his own schedule, he's releasing all the content, and he's taken on four or five times more work than he was doing when he started because we started slow, because we gave him the time, because I gave him the focus. And I could do a better job at this, I could spend way more time with him helping him out with things. Just last week, we had a conversation about an editing style that unlocked tons of potential. And it upsets me that he's been here for six months, and we're just talking about it. Now, I should have done a better job six months ago, teaching him this. But the point is that I was super tempted to just bring him in, hire him and let him do his own thing and never think about Steve again. “Steve, I just want it done”.

I just need to take care of making everything better. But that is not realistic. If I had done that, right now, six months later, Steve would be gone and the content would be terrible. I would have wasted time and money and I'd be no better off than I was a year ago when I was doing everything myself. Ultimately, you know what you need to do; you need to step up and take ownership and bring this person in and work with them. It doesn't mean you can be hands-off. It doesn't mean you can just hand it to them and just hope that they'll take care of everything or they'll figure it out, we'll do it the way that you are hoping that they'll do it.

You need to lead, you need to show up. You need to give them time and attention. And you need to know what it is you want to accomplish and how it is you want to achieve it, and then you can allow them to implement or to execute or to come back with recommendations. But what you can't do is simply just hand it to them and never think about it again. That type of thinking will get you into more trouble than anything else in your business.