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Posted: May 06, 2013

The rise of you

The new rules of engagement in today’s market

Dan King

No matter how good you are, sometimes you hit major a crossroad in your career, find yourself with significant change ahead, or ask yourself, "Okay –  now what?.”   

Engaging relationships in today’s market starts with an understanding that the rules of the engagement are vastly different from even a decade ago.  It's time to place your needs on the same level as the needs of others.This requires a process of creative self-renewal.

Here are a few key philosophies:

Listen to the voice inside your head – Go with your gut instinct. Nobody knows better what you want than you do. The voice inside your head is there to guide you – listen to it.

The benefit of the doubt – There are two key beliefs on this topic.  One camp believes a relationship shouldn't begin by giving the “benefit of the doubt” because it can put you in a position of unnecessary exposure.  The other camp believes you should “trust first” because there is more risk in missing opportunity than getting burned.  I can appreciate both sides and don’t have an opinion either way.  The key takeaway on this point is to be aware you have options.   

Trust but verify – This may sound paranoid, but it can be a healthy habit.  Let’s face it, not everyone tells the truth, so listen and trust but verify.  Functional denial of the truth is a powerful and counter-productive behavior acquired over time.  Also, just as powerful is the fact that a lie that goes unchallenged ultimately becomes the truth.  That doesn’t seem fair, but it happens.  When you see it, challenge it.  You will not make friends with everyone, but you will be respected.

Be an observer of behavior – The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.  Observe the behaviors of those around you.  Over time, you will figure out which personalities and alliances work best for you.  You will also learn about those who truly care about you through their actions.  The key is to make a conscious and observable effort.  There is significantly more credibility in what people do than what they say.

Keep your composure, even when things seem impossible – Freaking out doesn’t help anyone and can be distracting.  Charles R. Swindoll once said, "Life is 10 percent what happens to you, 90 percent how you react to it."   So just relax.  Panic behaviors are easily observable and can damage credibility.  Your reactions as leader don’t go unnoticed.

Take the high road – there's a lot less traffic there – It’s no fun getting burned. What you do about it, however, is completely within your power.  You choose how to behave in difficult situations.  Choice includes both internal and external reactions to events.  Often overlooked is the toll internal stress takes on your body and mental health, if you choose to let it.   Make a conscious choice not to be the victim. 

Give and don’t expect anything back – The point of giving is just that, it’s a gift.  If you are expecting reciprocity, you will be disappointed.  Giving to others isn’t easy because it takes effort, time and may not result in direct benefit to you.  Get over it.  It’s the right thing to do anyway.  Giving is a fundamentally good thing that will pay itself back over time in a way that is of intangible value to you.  A great article on this topic is The Secret to Success is Giving, Not Taking by Adam Grant.

So there it is.  Key points to help stay poised and focused through change using the new rules for engagement.  There are simple philosophical concepts to follow that help bridge the change gap and manage uncertainty. 

At the end of the day, change is a good thing if managed with a genuine sense of creative self-renewal.  Consider a relevant quote from the great Ben Franklin: “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished."

The question is one you must answer for yourself: Will you welcome change and thrive, or will you ignore change and capitulate?

Dan King is a financial operations leader with significant experience in venture capital and private equity-backed technology companies in software, SaaS, Cloud and ecommerce business models. He began his career as a CPA with KPMG in the Silicon Valley and is active throughout the Colorado technology and small business community.  Dan can be reached at

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

Great article. I especially like the first piece of advice to go with your gut. It's like taking a high school test - your first guess is usually your best. Going with your gut doesn't mean you have to make snap decisions and it's important to learn when you need to 'sleep on it.' By Mike on 2013 05 06
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