by Dan Oshinsky on June 16, 2012
Navin R. Johnson: The new phone book’s here! The new phone book’s here!
Harry Hartounian: Boy, I wish I could get that excited about nothing.
Navin R. Johnson: Nothing? Are you kidding? Page 73 — Johnson, Navin R.! I’m somebody now! Millions of people look at this book everyday! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity – your name in print – that makes people. I’m in print! Things are going to start happening to me now.
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I’m seeing that Navin R. Johnson kind of excitement from my team at Stry.us lately, and it’s a wonderful thing. I can’t remember where I read it first, but it’s true: You can teach skills, but you cannot teach attitude. Right now, we’re at the start of this project, and everyone is excited about everything.
The challenge is in keeping that excitement going. I have to know how my reporters are running — right now, I can see that two of them are slightly overworked, and one of them is a little bored, and the fourth is right about at her maximum output — and when I need to step in and intervene. Because it’s really easy to lose a good employee to burnout, and it’s equally easy to lose a reporter to boredom.
Like Navin, I know how excited my reporters are to see their names appear on the site. But that excitement is fleeting.
So much of building your own thing is about bringing that energy. Many days, you just wake up with it.
Other days, you have to fake it. You have to smile big and try to find energy in those moments when it just doesn’t want to come.
You cannot just show up on the days when you feel like showing up. The work has to be done every single day.
On those slow days, I like to think about the moments when the energy’s there, when the excitement is high, when I’m absolutely giddy about the work I’m doing. On a day when I’m down, I can always remember: Tomorrow could bring that excitement again. Today’s just a bad day.
Until then, I have to find a way to do the work I need to do with the passion I need to have. And I need to teach my team how to do the same.
Otherwise, we’ll wake up one day as that gas station owner, trying to figure when the days of getting excited about the phone book passed us by.
There are so many wonderful things about being young and stupid and excited. I will not let that go to waste.