This week I spoke to a group of entrepreneurs at Start Garden, an incubator in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After receiving support from a program called Fast Track to start my own business, I pledged to us my Google-time (10% of my time) to connect with programs that help others start their own businesses and/or allow me to hang out with great people. Start Garden meets both criteria. Here are two things I learned from my workshop:
1. To get feedback, you have to ask for it: In dozens of appearances, I have found it very hard to get constructive feedback. For this presentation I took my teenage daughter and told her ahead of time that I would like some feedback about what improvements I could make. When I asked her after I was done she shared “Dad, at the end your closing kind of dragged. People want to get going, and you could have kept the pace moving a little better as you went around the room for your closing.” She was right, and next time I will be better because she cared enough to share. The best way to get feedback is to ask for it before you start.
2. Entrepreneurs love to learn: We were talking about leadership, and had some very frank discussions about barriers to leading well, but we never got stuck in what facilitators call a ‘negative spiral’. We acknowledged what made it hard to lead, but quickly moved past it to what they could do to be better leaders. It is what I try to do as a facilitator, but I know that when it is easy – the groups gets part of the credit. Entrepreneurs see the opportunities in anything, which is why it is fun to hang around them.
Here is a copy of my presentation if you are interested. It was themed around a John Wayne movie that I loved.
My question: If you had to share one thing with a group of entrepreneurs about leadership, what would it be?