Behaving Badly: Your Inflated Ego Will Affect Your Business
I have been known to emphasize the worth of relationships both in my writing, and whenever I’m on stage at one of the region’s many business events. Whether you’re an entrepreneur seeking a Series B, or an exec in a corporation seeking a senior position, your connections really can make a difference. You probably think you are a pro at maintaining your relationships, but here are three recent true snafus that I experienced- and yes, everyone is probably guilty of these at one time or another.
1. Blanking an associate is bad form all around… and will potentially mark your reputation
At Entrepreneur’s most recent Agility Forum, I (unfortunately) was able to confirm my instincts about a relatively ineffectual and somewhat irritating “public” figure. This early-stage entrepreneur has grown a bit too big for his britches. Context: in the past, when this person was relatively unknown and largely ignored, I’ve gone over and above to give advice and help promote his enterprise. These days, I cannot even expect a simple hello from said entrepreneur when he’s standing less than a meter away! I saw -to my amusement- him look directly at me, and quickly shift his gaze away to jump on his next likely target. For those of you who think there’s no harm behaving like this, here are a few things to remember:
- The ecosystem is small, and people talk (myself included). I will mention this incident to people who ask me about you, and share that I have previously taken from my personal time to try and help you and your business before.
- Never forget who has helped you in the past (and likely will not do so again, because you’ve proven you’re an opportunist with bad manners and short-sighted human navigation).
- Cultivate relationships early on, but you must continue to show the same initial interest and minimal levels of respect for these associates in the long-term.
2. Stop being a cloying attention-seeker… as it is off-putting to people who know you professionally
I mean this in the nicest way possible: you are largely irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. I too am largely irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. Perspective is everything; you have not cured cancer, and I cannot champion (or even minimally support) business associates who think that their witticisms and musings are worth bespoke artwork.
If you haven’t created or founded something truly groundbreaking, you don’t need to have a picture of yours photoshopped with a quotation. With the very best intentions, I will say this: unless you have truly global reach –in business, we’re talking Elon Musk level– be humble! (That said, I’ve been reading Warren Buffet’s biography, and he’s as humble as they come, even with his global impact.) Your big head will quickly lose you the advocates you and your business desperately need. I have altogether stopped recommending and referring certain people for gigs, contracts, and more, just based on their ever-growing ego. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth, and you’ll fare far worse for it.
3. Say thank you, and say it often
It is the most basic element of good manners. Saying thank you is something you were probably taught as a toddler. What not saying thank you says about you: you are insolent and dismissive, and probably don’t deserve the favors that have been done for you. If you haven’t said thank you to the person who most recently referred a client, or helped you in some other way, that person probably will never do so again. I know I won’t.
My rant, inspired by our ecosystem, doesn’t even begin to cover some of the shenanigans that I’ve seen. The reason I decided to write about these three things in particular is that these are behaviors that are easily corrected, and when modified, can help you get to where you want professionally speaking. Simply put, don’t be a jerk; the entrepreneurial ecosystem has enough challenges without all that additional nonsense.