I’m lucky enough to spend time with entrepreneurs and leaders from a raft of different organizations, and recently I’ve been thinking about which patterns are the ones that indicate potential. Of course, it’s not black and white and every exec I’ve worked with brings their own skills and experiences to the table. That said, there are some patterns of note.

That thinking was encouraged by some recent exchanges with people involved with developing entrepreneurship in young people and an overarching theme from those fledgling entrepreneurs of: “We’re just looking for the killer idea to chase for our business.”

There’s a saying in the investment community that, while crass, is also an accurate summation of what really matters – “Ideas are like assholes (or arseholes for some of my readership), everyone has one.” The extension of that off-colour quote is that ideas are important, of course, but what really matters is execution. A great team, as is often said, can pivot from a lame idea onto a more feasible one. But a lame team, even when blessed with a killer idea, will likely screw it up.

And so, circling back, I’ve been thinking about this stuff in the context of working alongside Emily Heazlewood, CEO of Romer, a company that I’ve invested in and have joined the board of. I’ve also been thinking about this stuff within the connect of the oft-mentioned generational issues we’re facing – you see as well as being a first-time entrepreneur, Emily is young and a member of that frequently criticized generation, the millennials.

There are some patterns that I’ve seen in Emily, that give me a high degree of confidence in her future success. She moves fast, takes criticism well, and is continually displaying an attitude of developing and testing new ideas. While it’s a simple example, an exchange just this weekend clearly demonstrated this.

Heading into the first board meeting for the newly constituted board, Emily was tasked with preparing board papers. Now bear in mind that this is her first exposure to formal business and, I suspect, formal meeting procedure generally. On Sunday afternoon I received a notification that the board papers were ready to review on Google Docs. I took a look and was a little bit underwhelmed by the information, the structure and the clarity of the docs.

So I did the simple thing: borrowed some board papers from another CEO (thanks, Hadleigh!) emailed them to her and gave an outline of what board meetings attempt to achieve. Only an hour or two later, I received the updated documents which were as complete and clear as any I’ve seen from a seasoned exec.

Now extrapolate this experience around board papers to the huge variety of different tasks that falls into the lap of an executive – it’s clear that this embracing of a dynamic and proactive way of working will pay massive dividends over time. And, while many corporates are chasing this sort of approach in their embracing of #Agile, it’s rare to find people that actually live it.

So my question to those managers and executives out there who also want to help their organizations grow and prosper is: what patterns can you borrow from Emily to genuinely help deliver positive outcomes?


Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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