Surround Yourself with Smart People

Surround Yourself with Smart People

One of the “tricks” I used to train marine mammals was to pair rookie animals with veteran animals. Suppose I was training a two-year old whale to jump at three specific points in the pool. To do this I would simultaneously ask a more experienced whale to jump with the rookie whale. What occurred was phenomenal. The rookie whale instinctively followed the experienced whale and over time learned where to jump. Once the rookie whale learned where to jump, the rookie whale could jump solo. In fact, not only did the rookie whale know where to jump, but the jumps were higher! The rookie whale tried to reach the height of the veteran whale.

This type of pairing was used in dozens of other ways. A whale that was hesitant to enter a new pool could be paired with a confident whale. A whale that didn’t know which pool to enter, could be paired with one that did know. These pairings allowed me to teach novice whales new things very quickly. It also made learning easier for the novice whale.

“Hiring people smarter than yourself is the long-term answer to your micromanagement problem.” – Phil Libin, Co-founder and CEO of Evernote

Are you a Rookie Whale or a Veteran Whale?

What kind of “whales” do you surround yourself with? They say you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with – make those five people incredible. Most people prefer to be the “veteran whale” and surround themselves with “rookie whales.” It makes them feel good to know that they are superior in some way. It makes them feel wanted because others need them to succeed. It strokes their ego. As people, we seek out this type of acknowledgement. There is something flattering about people asking you for advice and viewing you as the expert. Why do you think I write on this blog? I am kidding. Unfortunately, being the veteran whale offers little room for growth and you end up giving more than you get.

In the example above, which whale benefited the most? Sure, the veteran whale may have learned something from helping the rookie and yes, the veteran whale was most certainly rewarded for participation, but the true benefactor was the rookie whale. The rookie whale not only learned faster, but with less effort. Simply by following a more experienced whale, the rookie whale achieved success.

“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere.” – Ronald Wilson Reagan, 40th President of The United States (1981-1989)

Entrepreneurs are Rookie Whales

Every successful entrepreneur I have met, surrounds him/herself with people who are smarter and more experienced. They recognize that pairing themselves with veterans them more effectively and efficiently. Instead of spending time teaching their team, their team is busy creating results. Instead of spending time mentoring, they are being mentored. Surround yourself with smart people and you will be the smartest person in the room.

In an one-on-one interview with Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Enterprises, entrepreneur Vishen Lakhiani asked Branson, “…if you had to boil it down to one thing. Just one thing. What would your advice be?” Branson answered, “It’s all about finding and hiring people smarter than you.”

I could have spent extra time training the rookie whale where to jump. However, finding and utilizing a whale smarter than both me and the rookie whale, saved time and made the process easier. I mean, who is going to know how to jump better than a 30 year-old whale? Not me!

“Prove that you are smarter than everyone by hiring people who are smarter than you.” – Larry Wingnet, Entrepreneur, Speaker

Final Thought

1. Don’t let your ego control you.
2. Realize that there are people who are better, smarter and more experienced than you.
3. Surround yourself with smart people. Embrace them and learn from them.
4. Utilize them and learn to “jump” at their level.
5. Don’t try to do it all. If you can employ a “veteran whale” to make things faster and easier – do it.

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