Venture investor, Natalie Fratto, on TED Talks ( ted.com ), explained what she looked for in startup business individuals who requested her financial support. Respectable IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and EQ (Emotional Quotient) were factors not to minimize, but what she valued most was AQ (Adaptability Quotient). During interviews, she didn’t ask what each had done in the past, but asked, “What if…” questions, referring to the future. She needed to know if they had proficiency in shifting gears, recovering, or if they had a plan B and C in case plan A failed.
She also wanted to know how they unlearned. Achieving competent skills often prevent new ways of thinking or listening. She gave the example of a man who relearned how to ride a bicycle, one that turned left when he steered right and right when he steered left. To unlearn how to ride a bike took eight months. Everything is changing at a rapid rate, and she knew anyone unwilling to reset their thoughts to zero was not an asset to a company of the future.
The correlation between high-stake companies and mental wellness struck me. How often in one day are we challenged to adapt or learn a new way of doing a developed task?
For basic example, I was baking my boring oatmeal bread and didn’t have eggs, so I used egg whites from a carton. I didn’t have vegetable oil, so I used olive oil. I didn’t have milk, so I used a canned protein drink. I didn’t have ripe bananas, so I used applesauce. I could have scrapped the project or gone to the store (which I don’t like doing), but I chose to substitute ingredients. Were the loaves edible. They were delicious!
Many decisions warrant “What if…?”. Getting married: “What if one of us dies or becomes disabled?” “What if we can’t get pregnant?” “What if we lose our jobs?” Answering “What if…” helps us prepare and make wiser choices. Answers could also uncover information about the
Fratto’s third criteria for choosing a prospective tech-startup was a person who explored new ways. She said, “Don’t fall too in love with your wins.” Today’s success could fail next week.Think about what’s next. She gave Blockbuster and Netflix as examples—Blockbuster hung on to their win, and Netflix prepared for the future—looking toward public wants or needs. I thought about Airbnb and Uber. Were hotel and taxi companies prepared for those innovative shifts? I have an idea they were not.
Successful business traits are similar to traits of the mentally healthy. Both ask “What if…,” adapt to change, unlearn, and explore. It’s a good recipe for delicious.
Until the next time: Live while you live.
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