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Posted: December 06, 2013

All kinds of crazy

In business, it can be a good thing

Erin Gibbs

There is a moment in every career when you believe your boss is crazy. And in that moment, you might be right. In fact, there might be all kinds of crazy going on – and that’s why this person ended up as your boss. They can see things in a way that others cannot. More importantly, this person can often multi-task, delegate and dispense decisions in a way that no one else can.

In business, and in particular in entrepreneurial business environments, crazy is not necessarily a negative word. Turn it around. Embrace it. Think of it as innovative, passionate and (what?) even productive.

Take that crazy boss moment and apply it to those who have created businesses that changed our language, way of living, expectations and the very culture that binds us together. Facebook is both a business, and a verb. Google is also a business and a verb. Starbucks is a coffee and an experience. Disney is also a product and an experience. In all cases, their early years  – and their leaders –  were probably “crazy” and comprised of people who accepted “crazy” as a normal, the way to get the company off the ground.

Your ability to show up, work hard and engage in your boss’ mission will all work to help make you have extraordinary value to the corporation, no matter your age, years of experience or skill set. Keeping up with “crazy” will likely accelerate your options within your company by leaps and bounds. When you behave with purpose and a sense of urgency, you will be noticed, appreciated and likely given greater responsibility and recognition.

Just know that you can’t outdo crazy, especially if your boss owns the business. This small fact should actually inspire you to deal with crazy in a way that others cannot. It might be what gets you noticed and moved up the ladder. Who else thinks it’s okay to have meetings at 11 p.m.? Or 6:30 a.m.? Or work Saturdays – and (gasp) work through a lunch hour? If you work for a woman CEO who happens to also be a mother, get ready for an entirely new definition of the workday.

Business meetings, legal meetings, finance and strategic planning meetings, supply-chain decisions, operations meetings – a lot of travel –  and HR policy may have to fit in with school drop off and teacher meetings, pediatric appointments, sports activities – not to mention the full time slate of other obligations, interests and support work outside of work. Oh wait, there’s got to be time for friends and nurturing relationships, including a marriage. The goal?  An organized soft place to fall, money to retire with, funds for childrens' education – and the bandwidth to offer that to your organization's staff. When (not if) that happens, maybe that staff won’t think the boss as “crazy.” 

As I am a self diagnosed expert in “crazy,” and it’s been verified by those closest to me, my best employees, colleagues and assistants know that they can’t outdo me in the that department. CEO has nothing to do with corporate jargon in my world; rather it is all about leading the charge, not giving up, drive, dedication and purpose – loaded with personality and at warp speed. Entrepreneurship is about getting “it” done, whatever “it” is, not following, or spending a lot of time creating, rules.

I dare say there is not that big a gap between being a parent and being an entrepreneur. You do what needs to be done, at whatever time of day or night – in the best interest of producing the best product at a profit: a great widget that sells, or a child who becomes a great and responsible adult. The right team gets this concept: They are willing to go with the flow and it works to their advantage so they too can meet the personal demands that make their families great which, I believe, is a key part of helping make a company excel.

If you are an employee of this tireless sort, or a business colleague who wants to create a partnership or become a vendor –  I have some advice with dealing with “crazy” – especially when a company is in the startup phase, which I characterize as the first three to five years in business.

  •  Don’t use “crazy” as a bad word. You picked a startup and outsiders may not understand what’s really going on (in our case, 1,200 percent growth in the first three years, from three to 50 employees and from one to five locations). To your business owner, success is his or her whole world and this person is willing to sacrifice and make decisions that no one else can or would, in order to achieve such goals.
  • Recognize that no one works harder than your boss . This is a component of his of her success. Want to join the upper echelons of your business? Get crazy!
  • Appreciate that no one has more invested in your success than your boss. A rising tide lifts all boats. If you are working hard and making a difference, it will reflect on your success and your company’s bottom line.
  • Embrace change. The nature of a startup is to grow up and there is a lot that changes in the early and formative years of a company’s process, product and culture.
  • Be heard. If you have an idea, see the need for change – don’t keep it to yourself.  If you put yourself in front of the decision makers, they will listen. Be flexible and creative when you ask for the time - offer to catch up after hours or at a time that ‘works’ into his or her schedule. But they won’t wait, so you’ve got to make it happen.

Erin Reilly Gibbs has played central roles in the development of innovative services and educational content in the healthcare industry. Before founding RMVI Services in 2010, she helped MayoClinic.com launch its first edition website and produced the first online video health library as well as online text and interactive health content. She co-founded American Vein & Vascular Institute (AVVI – previously Rocky Mountain Vein Institute) in 2009 and Trinity Vein Institute in 2012, now all housed under the AVVI moniker. AVVI now has more than 50 employees, operating in Pueblo, Parker, Canon City, Vail Valley and Colorado Springs in Colorado and in Arlington, Texas. Recently, AVVI was selected for ColoradoBiz Magazine’s Top 100 Women-Owned Companies and a 2014 winner for Colorado Companies to Watch. 

She can be reached at egibbs@avviusa.com or 719.242.8650.

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