Altho I am experiencing Music Contest fatigue, I still watch American Idol and The Voice as a family tradition with my kids.
The other night it struck me that there is a very strong similarity between what the judges do on these shows and what many of us who have management and hiring responsibilities do every day on the job.
We judge people all the time. During the interview, meeting with partners and customers, performance reviews… the list goes on.
Once a candidate is part of the team, we also coach them to help them grow and sometimes, vote them off the team.
People working for Venture Capitalist firms probably go through this 5 times a day…
If you watch The Voice, you have probably seen this scene a few times, where a contestant sings the first line of the song and all the coaches press the button and turn around and fight to have them on their team. Then they go “You just got it“, “You were born to sing“, “You either have it or you don’t, and you got it” and so on.
This is exactly how I feel when I meet a true butt kicker, a passionate entrepreneur, a high-tech superstar, the one that is 10 times better than the second best.
They open their mouth and you know it.
For example, that’s exactly how I felt when I met Carl Sjogreen in 1998 when he was working on the exit of his second company at age 21. He is now at co. number 4 after an amazing career at BEA, Google and Facebook.
Or Chris York, Stanford Psychology graduate turned product manager, turned exquisite designer, turned entrepreneur…
Sometimes I hear people saying “how do people like that do it over and over again, why can’t that be me?”
Well, just like with singing, you either got it or you don’t. The environment helps, I mean of all places being in Silicon Valley definitely increases the opportunity to blossom and connect with other great people, but the pyramid of great people who create innovation and great companies is extremely thin at the top, just like with great artists.
And just like with singing, talent alone is not enough. These successful entrepreneurs work hard, really hard. They are animals.
So, what if you are not one of those? Well, try to find one and work really, really hard to add value to them and their teams…
How do you get on their teams? Oh right… there still is that audition thingie to pass. My advice? Choose the right song, know who you are and what your talent is, and show it.
Try not to be pitchy or karaokey, be you. Kick butt.