The challenge in many early-stage companies is that the executives running them often don’t have as much deep experience in critical areas needed for growth. Usually, the founding team is still learning and evolving their skills and depth of knowledge in the domain.
This is good in the beginning when things are moving quickly, as you need flexible leaders who can quickly learn in new environments. But as you scale, you begin needing expertise and depth as well.
Here are three key questions I ask leaders facing the challenge of how to evolve and plan their professional development. These will not only help the business create the best leadership team; it will help keep people engaged and motivated throughout the growth process.
1. What drives engagement?
The first question to ask yourself is: what do you really enjoy doing that keeps you engaged and continuously challenges you? It’s more than just liking something. You need to really be compelled and driven to get better at it over time to be able to maintain your focus over the long term.
Write down all of the tasks and work that you do. Now think about when and how you engage in that work. Find the three to five things that you notice a high degree of engagement in.
Look for periods where you lose track of time or tend to push off other tasks, or even things like eating, to spend more time doing. Find those activities where you’re totally engrossed in the work and forget about everything else.
If you can’t find any obvious activities, find the ones that you have the most curiosity about and start carving out a little more time and focus to get into them and notice what happens. Does your curiosity increase or do you get bored quickly and want to move on?
2. What are you really good at?
It’s not enough to just enjoy something. You need to be good at it too, in order to create value. Something you love doing that you’re not proficient at is a hobby, not a profession. Look for things where you get lots of positive feedback around and things that people ask you to do frequently.
If you can, get more feedback from colleagues and bosses about what they see as valuable skills and contributions. You don’t need to be a world expert on something, but you want to be seen as having a high degree of skill and performance. Focus on what other people think you’re really good at, not just your own assessment.
Sometimes, we know too much and are too self-critical. You may feel like you don’t really know what you’re doing, or know that there is so much more to learn, but someone not educated in the field may see you as brilliant. It’s more about what others think, not just what you think.
3. What can nobody else do?
Finally, you need to look for the things that nobody else can do like you can. If everyone else is also going at something, there is little room for differentiation or to be seen as a unique resource. You want to find something that you enjoy, that you’re good at, AND that nobody else can do.
If you can’t find anything truly unique off-hand, start looking for ways you can add or combine skills and experiences to create a valuable and unique capability.
Maybe you’re really good at contract law, minored in environmental studies in college, and are a hobbyist rock collector. Can you combine them to focus on contracts involving public land use for mining and forestry?
Developing a niche is an excellent way to become highly sought after and highly compensated. Don’t be afraid to really carve out a unique domain; just make sure there are at least a handful of people and companies who really need that expertise.
Becoming a high-achieving executive is about creating unique and desirable value in your market. Focusing on these three questions will help you find something you’re not just passionate about, but something that you can create a real niche around. As they say, the riches are in the niches.
By: BRUCE ECKFELDT, FOUNDER AND CEO, E&A, GAZELLES/SCALING UP BUSINESS COACH, @beckfeldt
“Lemme ask one of those tone deaf economist questions that annoy almost everyone. Today, many families learned that the amount they owe on their mortgage has declined—in real terms—by 9.1% over the past year. Why do we hear so little about this? Why don’t we see folks celebrating?”
Some other economists agreed with him, at least in terms of how people think of economics. Many non-economists quickly came in to explain their thought processes—that the points, while technically correct, were out of context and touch.
Essentially, the critics made two points as accurately as Wolfers and company related the technicalities. People are set upon from all quarters, not just housing. And the U.S. is becoming a country, not of poverty, but entrenched poorness. That is, in the sense of “small in worth” or “less than adequate” by the Merriam-Webster definition.
It is true that as inflation increases, the monetary value of a loan with terms that established lower interest rates decreases in favor of the borrower, at least while inflation is running hot. If the total remaining on the mortgage, including interest and principal, is $X, then over the last year it’s now 9.1% less expensive because the value of the dollars is falling. The mortgage likely has no inflation escalation rider.
Now, that mortgage only remains 9.1% less expensive if there is no deflation. You do get a savings even if inflation drops to a lower rate, because the value of what a dollar can buy continues to drop. As it does pretty much every year anyway. This is one of the advantages of owning a home. The amount you own drops because there is some degree of inflation in virtually every year, as, unless you have an adjustable-rate mortgage (a bad idea in the long run that might make sense in specific circumstances in the immediate future), you’ll locked in at the level of cheaper dollars.
There’s nothing new with that and it’s how a lot of people build wealth over time. Then they, in theory, pass that property down to their children, who now have greater wealth that, in theory, can get passed down in turn, and so on. The growth of wealth becomes a multi-generational process. The longer you’re around, the greater an advantage you have.
There are two other ways you build value as a homeowner. One is, on the whole, there will be some appreciation in value over time. That comes without additional payments. The other is one of those “you get a benefit because you’re not doing something else that would cost more” kind of financial planning arguments. If you don’t own, you’re a renter and the amount you pay climbs each year. If you do own, then there’s an annual additional amount you don’t have to pay, which is a savings.
That doesn’t mean that homeowners don’t pay more every year because there’s more to owning a house than the payment. Taxes, utilities, maintenance and repair, upgrades, and so on see regularly rising costs. Still, this remains a case that things could be much worse, and you are ahead in some significant ways.
So, why aren’t people dancing in the street? The first reason the critics note is that housing, while a significant cost, isn’t the only place where people are hit. For many years, important areas of living have endured significantly higher increases than income in real terms after inflation. Healthcare, childcare, education, energy (both electric and heating and cooling), all drive up everyday expenses. They leave pay increases in the dusty plains of personal financial ledgers. Personal savings rates are dropping; credit card debt has again reached new heights.
One reason you don’t see conga lines in the street is because people are anxious about the economy and their position in it. Consumer sentiment is up a touch from June, as the newest University of Michigan polling shows, but that’s still down massively from a year earlier. If a patient is in bed with a serious illness and a doctor tells them that they don’t have an additional one, they might be glad to hear it and yet not be in a position to leap to their feet.
The second criticism is even stronger, in a social sense. If housing ownership is at about 65% in the country, should people clap for joy as they see a third of the country having to struggle much harder? When many who are not in a position to own homes are their children or nieces and nephews or kids of friends or younger people they work with? You can be thankful that you weren’t part of a massive traffic accident and yet reluctant to outwardly rejoice so as not to rub others’ noses in the dirt.
The Food and Drug Administration should authorize a second “booster” dose of Johnson & Johnson’s JNJ, +0.74% COVID-19 vaccine for adults who were initially vaccinated with this vaccine, according to a group of scientists and clinicians that advises the regulator.
The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee voted 19-0 that allowing adults who were initially vaccinated with the J&J shot to get a booster is safe and effective. Their recommendation is based on giving a booster to those 18 years old and older at least two months after they got their first shot.
“This does look more like a two-dose vaccine,” Dr. Michael Nelson, a professor of medicine UVA Health and the UVA School of Medicine and a temporary voting member of the FDA committee.
One difference with this booster recommendation is that the group of people who would qualify for the J&J booster can get it two months after getting their first dose, compared with six months after the primary series of shots for the mRNA vaccines developed by Moderna Inc. MRNA, -2.31% and BioNTech SE BNTX, -1.06% /Pfizer Inc. PFE, -0.43%.
If the FDA follows the advice of the committee, which it is not required to do but often does, it means that all three COVID-19 vaccines that are available in the U.S. have authorized boosters, with the caveat that there are restrictions in place on who can get a mRNA booster.
The mRNA boosters are reserved at this time for people older than 65 years old, adults who are at high risk of severe disease, and those who face higher exposure to the virus because of their jobs.
About 15 million people in the U.S. have received the J&J’s adenovirus-based COVID-19 vaccine. J&J’s stock is up 2.6% so far this year, while the broader S&P 500 SPX, +0.75% has gained 18.1%.
The Janssen COVID‑19 Vaccine has not been approved or licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but has been authorized by FDA through an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for active immunization to prevent Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID‑19) in individuals 18 years of age and older.
The emergency use of this product is authorized only for the duration of the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of the emergency use of the medical product under Section 564(b)(1) of the FD&C Act, unless the declaration is terminated or authorization revoked sooner.
Healthcare professionals should be alert to the signs and symptoms of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia in individuals who receive the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine. In individuals with suspected thrombosis with thrombocytopenia following administration of the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine, the use of heparin may be harmful and alternative treatments may be needed.
“FDA Letter of Authorization”(PDF). 27 February 2021. Archived from the original on 10 March 2021. Retrieved 28 February 2021. …letter is in response to a request from Janssen Biotech, Inc. that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issue an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)…
Krause P, Fleming TR, Longini I, Henao-Restrepo AM, Peto R, Dean NE, et al. (12 September 2020). “COVID-19 vaccine trials should seek worthwhile efficacy”. The Lancet. 396 (10253): 741–743. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31821-3. ISSN0140-6736. PMC7832749. PMID32861315. WHO recommends that successful vaccines should show an estimated risk reduction of at least one-half, with sufficient precision to conclude that the true vaccine efficacy is greater than 30%. This means that the 95% CI for the trial result should exclude efficacy less than 30%. Current US Food and Drug Administration guidance includes this lower limit of 30% as a criterion for vaccine licensure.