We had a JVM bake-off on Wednesday – everyone brought in their favorite treat to be tasted and voted on. Katherine Baldeck won with her Pumpkin Muffins and earned the $100 cash prize.
I brought in frozen cookie dough that I still think was by far the best…and I didn’t get a single vote (again, as per usual). :) And this is my point: we have an entire office filled with people who are my exact opposites…in every way, and that is why we thrive.
Most of our staff thinks I am a freak of nature b/c of my reading, eating and workout habits, and my obsession with Milton Friedman, among other things. And, I am convinced they are all freaks b/c of how mainstream and social they are, and b/c they share none of my obsessions and tastes (for microwaved eggs for example :).
I would have it no other way b/c putting opposites together is what makes companies excel. Shane Snow, the author of the excellent book Smart Cuts, was on James Altucher’s Podcast in April discussing this b/c he is writing an entire book about it.
He pointed out how police departments became way better at problem-solving when they added women to their ranks b/c just having them present transformed their way of thinking (“from a macho approach to something more solution-oriented”).
He also gave examples of famous generals who excelled b/c they engaged their opposites. The very cerebral Eisenhower was more effective b/c he had the very aggressive Patton around (this is much like me and Heejin, as an aside; Heejin is pure Patton, wanting to attack every hill…). The more cautious Washington was also much stronger b/c Hamilton was so aggressive. And platoons in general are stronger when the soldiers come from all over.
Our marketing, as another example, has become exceptionally sharp and powerful lately b/c our marketing team consists of one very aggressive, middle-aged Korean Mom; one young, super-smart expecting Mom; one highly disciplined and organized former college swimmer; one excellent former retail manager; one young guy who reads tons of marketing books but spent his entire former life on a baseball field; and one old bald guy who relates to few people other than old bald guys :).
In any case, we all come together every week and combine ALL of our disparate ideas and something beautiful and effective emerges every time. If we were all the same or even similar, I am certain our marketing would suck.
The key to all this is engagement!! Opposites have to argue, persuade and engage. When they shut down and stop arguing, nothing works.
Hire and engage your opposites.
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