We at Stratlab are growing a “Starfish” organization, stolen from Ori Braffman’s the Starfish and the Spider, the story of leaderless organizations.
I don’t believe the future is in an organizational chart that dictates a clear divide between management and employees. The future is a leaderless organization. An organization that doesn’t need constant management, an organization where you’re free to make decisions on your own, we hope they are good ones but we know we can’t control that.
What we can control is how StratLab grows as a Starfish, by taking on bigger and better (more impossible) problems. To do this structure is a hindrance to true creative brilliance hence why at Stratlab we have as few rules a humanly possible.
The current way to organize a business with Executives, Management and Employees dates back to the 1600’s
Stop trying to make the biggest change possible and start making the smallest change possible.
Change is far more about your attitude than possibility. More about leverage than it is about inputs.
As a kid I liked to sleep in. My oldest bother had taught our family that during the Summer months of the year, if you wanted to sleep in, you had to black out the windows in your room. This usually consisted of garbage bags taped to the window frame, layered on because everyone knew the Sun could get through one bag. What a waste of garbage bags. I had a south facing room so it was very bright in the morning.
One day in the StratLab office Eddy says, “eh, chew guys ever see Aaron Draplin’s Ted talk?!”
Me: “What did you just say?!?” Eddy: “Just watch this….”
Meet Aaron Draplin. A crazy hat wearing, beard grooming, design denim god. He’s what we strive to be one day. Just happy to be able to wake up and create art every day. That’s something to get excited about.
He’s genuine (I mean he wore a hat and swore in a Ted talk, haha!).
He does not care about awards (they just inflate ego).
He’s incredibly excited to be able to do his art every day.
1. He’s genuine
He cares. He cares so much about his audience he wants to show them how to be original. When someone swears in front of your it’s a sign of respect, they’re comfortable enough to be themselves. When Aaron takes to the stage you instantly realize this isn’t going to be your regular speech. His outfit makes him look comfortable as well, jean jacket, trucker hat? He’s making it okay to be yourself.
2. He does not care about awards
In the marketing/advertising world it’s hard to get very far without finding out about “an award you could win!” or better yet “you should apply for this award!”. Apply for an award?!? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?!? Yet it happens all the time. Agencies attach “awards” they’ve won to proposals not knowing that clients want to hire them to create value for their organization, not simply win awards.
Winning awards can send you down a dangerous path. Always striving for the next award. What there is no more? You can’t control that outcome hence why this author thinks it’s very silly to focus on winning awards.
Finally Aaron doesn’t need an award to make him feel good, he just needs to look at the team he works with and the amazing volume of work they’ve created, and smile.
Awards are a false idol you’re seeking. Their poisonous, they change people, once you are an “award winner” you’re never the same. Stay hungry, stay thirsty.
3. He’s incredibly excited to able to do his Art every day
When I met Hugh MacLeod for the first time I asked which of his cards he created was his favourite. He said he had a lot he really liked but one always came to mind.
“If you have your health and you can make a decent living doing what you love, then you have little reason to envy other people.” -Hugh MacLeod
The way Aaron looks when he talks about being “able” to do his art every day. That’s incredible. That’s what I want to become.
One of the worst parts of my younger years was ironically during the 2010 Vancouver winter Olympics. I say Ironically because unless you’re a close friend of mine, you’ve never heard this story. And it really wasn’t that bad looking back, while I was there I was going through utter turmoil .
My videographer friend (Riley Moynes) and I were hired to be the online video bloggers for the Saskatchewan pavilion during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics! What an unbelievable experience I said, you have to do it I said to my self, at any cost. At any cost.
And boy did it cost a lot, but my trade off was I learned so much while being there, a once in a lifetime experience I’ll never forget.
When we agreed to do it we thought we could have a lot of fun doing Rick Mercer style interviews while producing Vice style video blogs. That’s wasn’t what we were hired to do. The Government representative flat out did not want this to come across as fun, no no, she had a much different idea. We were to report back to her with all video ideas before we were to shoot them. She’d send the ideas about to her counterparts in Saskatchewan and decision by committee made our lives pretty shitty for a while. Talk about micromanagement! I loathed it.
On top of terrible working situation I was staying in an apartment with a friend that was a bus, then train ride away to and from the Sask Pavilion. We didn’t have a fridge, 45 minute commute on a good day, a hour and a bit on a bad day. It was hell on earth. I know why people in big cities are miserable a lot of the time, it’s draining to commute so much. Every day the same, every day no more fun just shitty videos. I had to eat out every day on the same budget I was used to in Regina. I ended up using my credit card way to much. But I had no choice, it was a once in a lifetime experience, you don’t give up during those experiences. You bite your tung, you lie to yourself, you say everything will be alright.
I got home sick. So home sick my friend Derek asked if I wanted him to fly my girlfriend out there. It was a nice gesture, I declined.
My saving grace was Riley. He talked me off the ledge several times there, one day I had my head set on leaving early, but he convinced me to stay. We Sushi’d lots, went to a couple Olympic events, and one morning we almost lost him to a riot downtown Vancouver. He edited the videos we shot every day, he was a machine, I really don’t know how he did it. He had to work way more than I did, but that’s why I’ve always looked up to him. That’s why I still look up to him, he did everything I had to do without complaining. Incredible.
Towards the end of the Olympics we started just shooting our own thing. We thought “what the hell! They can’t fire us now, right?!”. Ironically those are the videos you won’t find on Tourism’s Youtube channel. HA! My favourite video to shoot was when Riley convinced me to wear green tights, a green cape and a watermelon on my head, we were going Rider fan hunting!! By far the funnest day. We had people from all walks of life yelling at us, heckling us with most of it in good fun.
Now I look back on it and it wasn’t as bad as I thought. A once in a lifetime experience that’s for sure. Most days we had a blast! We went to a curling semi final, women’s hockey game, and got busted one night for bringing a Mickey of rum into the pavilion. (beers were like $100, you can’t blame me, blame Vancouver!).
Stop being afraid of it and call out the pink Elephant in the room. Why is being positive looked down on? In a business setting if you come into the room excited, grinning ear to ear, people will ask if you’ve gone mad. I think we should encourage people to be happy, excited, down right ecstatic to be there. Why not, life’s too short not to have fun.
Why do we tolerate people in society that think life is about being “serious” and “professional”. Two adjectives this author doesn’t do very well with.
In the @Stratlab office if someone is being negative, gossiping, talking ill of someone else, or just in general being a negative Nancy, we won’t tolerate it. We blow the horn of negativity.
Yes you read correct. Born out of Big Idea Camp as a way to keep everyone positive, the Horn of Negativity is an air horn that rarely got used. We started it as a joke and it’s lasted ever since. The team knows now not to be negative, no gossiping or else they’ll get an ear full.
Lastly, it’s easy to be negative. It’s easy to be a critic. It’s easy to sit at the sidelines and complain. It’s easy not to put in any effort and just expect change to happen. But that’s not how life works.
It’s much harder to try to change things. It’s much more difficult to help look for solutions, to not complain without being willing to be a part of the change.
Take the difficult path, be a positive change agent in society. Man we need now more than ever.
Hold strong opinions but hold them loosely. Things change, your opinions should too. I remember when Al Gore Came to Regina, I was his disciple. Global Warming was happening and I was going to stop it!! Or so I thought. Then I read Superfreakonomics and the chapter about Global Warming and started to think there was more to this Global Warming fiasco! Finally, after published study after study, I’ve changed my mind back to thinking Global Warming is an issue.
Never be afraid to change your mind on a major topic because of new information. It’s when we rely on Dogma only we turn a blind eye to the facts blatantly in front of us.
On a Tim Ferriss podcast with Marc Andreessen there was this neat moment that Marc went off on opinions. He said he loves talking to investment bankers because when they get new information they’re very quick to change their minds. In the investment banking industry that can be worth millions of dollars. He said it’s wise to hold strong opinions as long as you can change them easily.
You know what’s really annoying your friends? That you don’t change your mind on anything! The world isn’t flat, lead gasoline is bad, global warming exists, and you’re not as smart as you think you are. In life there are no absolutes, just things that constantly change. It’s okay to change your mind, it’s a good thing.
We don’t have one. Over deliver, care more, work harder. At Strategy Lab we believe in being so good at what you do that you don’t have to rely on telling others about it. We want to ensure the work we do is remarkable enough that people will inherently want to talk about it. Permission based marketing.
How To Identify The Type of Person You Absolutely Don’t Want To Work With?
People that make fun of others.
In the service industry you get a chance to work with all different kinds of people. Some good, some bad, and yes some are freaking ugly (to deal with). This is to help you identify someone you absolutely don’t want to work with.
Someone who talks bad about others. More specifically your competitors or their competitors. People who say mean things about other companies have no place in the business community. When you associate with people who say bad things about others, what makes you think they don’t say bad things about you behind your back?
It’s happened to us at Strategy Lab Four distinct times now. It’s a textbook mistake, I should be smarter by now.