Technology and Software Entrepreneurs, Are You Too Smart for Your Own Good?

It seems that everything in our world is being dumbed down and focused on the lowest common denominator. There are cash registers that have pictures on them instead of numbers. Cashiers rely on the machine to tell them the correct change instead of counting it out. It seems most cashiers don’t even know how to count change! The world is designed to make it easier not to think.

Unfortunately, smart people don’t know how to stop thinking. We think about new or better ways to accomplish things. We think about things that don’t exist yet. We are so focused on learning new things that we can’t stay focused. In a world filled with tantalizing possibilities, we can’t get anything done for looking over the next hill, trying to figure out what’s coming next.

We wonder why on earth someone or some company is doing something the most inefficient way possible. Generally, smart people try to help others by pointing out the inefficiency of what others are doing. Trust me, the advice is not appreciated. As an Executive Recruiter, I had the tough job of telling my top-flight recruits to tone down their brains. I had to teach them to answer the interviewer’s questions without pointing out what the hiring company was doing wrong. Smart people know there is a better way to get things done, but the world isn’t really designed for smart people to succeed.
Smart people are always looking for the better way to do things. If you have two people making outbound calls, one smart and one average, the average person will come out on top every time. What’s the reason for this? The smart person keeps trying to figure out the better way to do it. They make significantly less calls and appointments. The average person just does what he or she is told to do. They get better at making calls and get more appointments.

I’ve had several engagements and executive roles where I came in as the “fixer.” They said they wanted me to build their sales and marketing systems, increase margins, get the big partners that would take their business to the next level. Though they said that’s what they wanted, they weren’t prepared for it. Their business was ready to deal with what it takes to manage a strategic partnership. What they really wanted were stretch goals, and the key people weren’t really on board. They wanted things to stay the way they were. Their income was tied to the old way of doing business. It’s very hard to get people to take a pay cut even when it means the company may go out of business if they don’t change the way they do business.

As a technology entrepreneur, you’re one of those smart people. You probably started your own company because of the frustration of dealing with people that just didn’t see your vision. Just understand that not everyone you meet will be smart like you. You need to stay at the front of your company and reiterate your vision, what you want out of your company. Sometimes the thing you need most is a sounding board, a trusted advisor, someone who sees your vision just as you do and can help you map the path to get there. You may have people in your company to talk to, but you’ll rarely get honest feedback because you’re the boss. Consider hiring a coach to help you achieve your dreams for your company and yourself and to hold you accountable, because it is so hard to stay focused.

Though it’s going to be difficult, you’ll win in the end. How do I know? It’s because you’re smart!

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