Young and Hungry
I'm at a crossroads with our current house. We've done almost everything to it we possibly can, but should we decide to stay in this house long-term, there are a couple more projects we'd like to tackle. The question isn't really about the projects, but more about who would do the work. We've used one contractor fairly consistently over the past 10 years, but I think we're moving on.
Well, he's no longer "young and hungry."
When we first used him, he was just starting out and was very eager to prove himself in the dog-eat-dog world of contracting. And he did. Which was why we kept inviting him back for more projects. Sunroom. Bathroom. Kitchen. But by the time he reached our basement, things had changed. He was successful. He no longer did (or even directly supervised) a lot of the work himself. He used more subcontractors. And things important to me were missed. And he acted like we - his customers - were more of an inconvenience by merely asking questions. And while the final product was... well... just okay, it wasn't the level of work that made us love what he did and compelled us to keep inviting him back.
It's that way in the white-collar business world as well. I once subcontracted to a consulting firm that was young and hungry. I was one of their first recruits. Those first couple of years were stressful yet exhiliarating. We worked our tails off to prove ourselves as a viable consulting firm. The owner and founder worked even harder to match up projects with the skills and strengths of the consultants. We got larger and more successful. And then he turned over the operations to a salesperson. So much for "care and feeding" of the consultants. At that point, we were treated more like mental prostitutes as the emphasis went from "young and hungry" to "established and self-satisfied."
Young and hungry is a mindset. Young and hungry abdicates lazy satisfaction. Young and hungry celebrates a job well-done, and then turns around and looks for ways to raise the bar. Young and hungry stays in training to become better, faster, stronger, more agile. Last month, Fast Company released its annual list of the 50 most innovative companies. It was interesting who wasn't on the list: Facebook and Twitter. Ubiquitous? Yes. Young and hungry? Not so much.
Young and hungry is not about ego. In proving itself, young and hungry lets the accomplishment trump the personality. We'll let Kim Jong Un stay in North Korea, thank you very much. We have enough little dictators invading our cubicles already. Young and hungry is not autocratic. It doesn't need to be. Young and hungry doesn't backstab or steal credit. Young and hungry doesn't need to issue hollow ultimatums to get its way; young and hungry sets out a compelling vision. Young and hungry invites others along on the journey and attempts to keep them engaged as long as they want to be part of that journey. Young and hungry doesn't delegate; it rolls up its sleeves and welcomes the work.
So where do you fall on the scale? Are you still young and hungry? What will get you back there?