What Are You Built For?

For the past several days, I have been doing Reboot’s “Shadow”. I don’t know a soul at Reboot but have listened to their podcast since they started. Personally, I have always been interested in psychology since I was in high school.

As an athlete, your psychological makeup is as important as your physical makeup. The same goes for being a floor trader. The same goes for being an entrepreneur. I know floor traders that took months off of trading simply because they were going through a divorce or going through something else in their life that was disrupting their internal psychology.

A few years ago when Raman Chadha approached me about an idea my interest in psychology was one of the reasons I was really interested. He started the Junto Institute which teaches management teams about emotional intelligence and works on their psyches.

I woke up this morning and remembered something from my past which relates to what I am doing today. Sort of looking at my shadow.

When I was in my first job at 3M as a salesperson, the traditional path forward was this:

  • work your territory
  • go to Minneapolis and work in Marketing
  • become a branch manager in another area of the country
  • go back to the home office and work your way up the corporate ladder

Your future was laid out for you.  As I have written about before, my boss was Harry Touissaint.  Harry was a great boss and he thought differently.  It turns out, his first boss was a guy named Warren Wasescha.  Harry had a sales territory in New Orleans and Warren was the branch manager in St. Louis.

In my first year on the job, there was a big auto parts show at McCormick Place.  Harry told me to go work it.  Warren was at that show.  While I was working the booth with a bunch of other 3Mers, Warren was nowhere to be found.  He showed up later in the day with bags and bags and bags of stuff.  A big smile on his face.

I asked him what he did.

He said he went around the country and looked for small companies 3M could buy and integrate into their business.  I thought that was totally cool.  He said he’d work with these little companies, sometimes for years as they developed their business.  He’d build a relationship with them, and if it looked promising, they’d try to buy them.  He said that a buyout didn’t happen very often.

Warren was a corporate venture capitalist before there was corporate venture capital.   Interesting how the world turns around isn’t it?