Googling the phrase “how to run a business” turns up 1.4 million related results. So, clearly there is no shortage of advice on how to start, launch, run and grow a business. But the reality is that there is no such thing as a cookie-cutter approach to entrepreneurial success.
What is a constant across the entrepreneurial spectrum, however, is that in order to thrive -- in terms of fulfillment, impact and profitability -- you must focus on self-awareness and cultivate yourself as the foundation of your business.
Indeed, a paradigm shift is happening in entrepreneurship today, one in which founders are building companies completely aligned with who they are, what they’re naturally gifted at, what they love doing and the lifestyle they desire. And one of the best and most effective ways we've found to accomplish this entails discovering your unique “zone of genius.”
A zone of genius is based on your raw talents, strengths and personality type. Once you've found it, the next step is to assemble a team of talent that complements it.
At Hello Fearless, we have partnered with Brian Tsuchiya [Visionary] and his co-founder Michael Potts [Cultivator] at EZOG. What we offer is an assessment to help our female students find their specific Entrepreneurial Zone of Genius, so that like all entrepreneurs they can better identify their brilliance and blind spots, the points at which their work is at its best and the people they should be looking to hire and partner with in order to build and grow successful companies.
By doing this, entrepreneurs can get into "the flow" -- that special place where work feels like play, comes more easily, doesn't leave them feeling drained at the end of each day. When you exist in this zone, you discover your own style of creativity, ways in which you inspire yourself and others and the activities that give you limitless amounts of energy. As a result, you are a better entrepreneur and all-around happier person.
Find out which is your entrepreneurial zone of genius.
From the beginning of time, there have been four core personality types, confirmed by such standard assesment tools as Myers-Briggs and DISC. In fact, brain research from Dr. Katherine Benziger proves that there are four areas of our cortex aligned with thinking styles. Using PET scans she found that when we work within the context of our individual natural style, our neural pathways operate 100 times faster. And conversely, doing the opposite -- operating outside our natural propensities -- literally hurts our brains, which heat up in response to the extra strain.
The EZOG assessment helps entrepreneurs find their zone, which is dominated by one of four styles. These zones are defined as follows.
- The Visionary: The Visionary uses her thinking and creative style to envision the future, and generate opportunities. She uses her passion and intuition to sense solutions. Visionaries need to surround themselves with other styles so that their visions may be structured, realized and implemented.
- The Architect: The Architect uses her thinking and creative style to define concepts and design functional solutions. She often adopts an analytical approach using her intellect and logic to bring clarity to complexity. Architects must surround themselves with other styles, especially Cultivators, who can launch and scale the ventures they have cleverly designed.
- The Builder: Builders use their thinking and creative style to continuously improve. Standing still is not an option. Using strategy and tactics, these women integrate different elements and stitch their ventures together by making things happen. Builders do best when complemented by Visionaries, who can help them clarify purpose.
- The Cultivator: Cultivators use their thinking and creative style to help, especially when it comes to integrating people into projects. Cultivators make good leaders, and their “servant style” brings out the best in those around them. In order to thrive, Cultivators need to surround themselves with people. Their ability to connect with and motivate others is their route to success.
Once you determine your particular EZOG, three results may well follow:
1. You'll become a happier, more productive person.
Don’t think of EZOG as a prescriptive label; think of it as a reflection of your innate preference and natural creative style in business. It is also a key that can help you understand strengths, weaknesses, frustrations, obstacles and opportunities -- for yourself, your business and your team.
Builders get frustrated when forced to sit around spinning their wheels, daydreaming. Visionaries are unhappy when they perceive they are being rushed or pushed into action before they are ready. EZOG isn’t who you are, it’s how you prefer to work, think and create. Understanding your preference leads to uncovering easier and more productive ways of doing things, and helps you refocus your time and energy on what you’re best at and most enjoy doing.
2. You'll build a stronger, more effective team.
Another benefit of EZOG relates to building strong, effective teams. Research has shown that people tend to engage with people who think as they do and believe what they believe. In business, that’s not always a good thing. To grow a strong company, you need a diverse team. Seek out those who bring different perspectives and ways of thinking to your company.
My best piece of advice when women ask me what they should look for in a cofounder, employees or partners is to find someone who is not like you. Find your complement, someone who fills your blind spots through their own zone of genius. Delegating these activities to people aligned to their own EZOG is a win-win opportunity for everyone.
3. You'll be able to more easily launch, grow and scale your business.
Different stages of business naturally require different kinds of thinkers and creators. At launch, a business needs the ideation of strong Visionaries. In order to grow, thrive and create stability, the Visionary eventually will want to attract Architects, Builders and Cultivators. The more diverse these individuals' thinking styles, the more you will be able to scale the business.
Any personality can be a great entrepreneur, but in order to be a successful and happy entrepreneur, you have to do things in your natural style. Even if you discover you’re a combination of the above categories, you should lean on your dominant type and focus on work that fits that zone. It’s crucial that you not look at what another entrepreneur is doing and try to replicate her path, but instead carve out your own. Left to his own devices, Brian Tsuchiya, the Visionary on our team, would have found something else to do, and EZOG likely would not exist.
So, figure out what energizes you, what drains you, what activities make you happy and which leave you feeling burned out. You don’t have to do it alone. Discover your sweet spot and fill the gaps with people who shine at points where you shrink. That’s the key to unleashing your full potential and to building a highly impactful, profitable company that makes you feel alive.
Regardless of what advice you seek and find about building your company, one sure-fire strategy, as the Greek aphorism states, is “temet nosce,” which means “know thyself." Now, that is a winning strategy.