Lesson Two

Totally Engaged

For the past six months I’ve been working with programmers to get my mobile app done. It is the lynchpin for the whole start-up. In the beginning, it was really fun and exciting to come up with the idea out of several months of trying out other ideas. I was so happy to finally have an idea that I could actually run with. Then everything seemed to hit roadblocks.

The artist doing the illustrations copied them straight from istock and by some crazy fluke I ran across the image that was copied from the  huge numbers of images on istock. I was incredulous! So then the hunt for another artist was on. I found a great one but then the guys programming stopped communicating. It was a real low point. Everything was on hold while I tried to get someone else. Now things are on track but again little things keep popping up.  While technology is great it isn’t the same as working with people in the same space or for the same business.  I’ve wondered about how best to communication (I mean how many emails, mock-ups, Skype calls, etc do you need to have?) and how do you figure out if people are going to not only understand your vision but work within deadlines while keeping the quality high.  My biggest question is how do I get them to engage with me and this project without being distracted by other projects they are doing?

Here’s what I’ve learned from Nootka:

When I’m working with her I give her my full attention and expect the same from her. If she starts looking around or seems distracted I know that she needs to be 100% with me or it’s just not going to work. I can’t have a working relationship with only her physical self. I need her mind too. So how do I know that her mind is with me? One ‘tell’ is if her ears are slightly moving from front to back (almost like she is listening to me but I’m not talking). If she perks them forward and I feel her focusing on what she is looking at or if turns her whole neck to look at something else, I’ve lost her.  I become a passenger, not a partner.  I have to get her back with me by asking her to engage with me again. It’s a moment by moment dance. There are other ‘tells’ that let me know if she is with me or not. Is she responsive when I give her a slight cue? Lots of little things like that add-up to truly feeling in partnership with her.

What’s the lesson?

When you are in a partnership with anyone you need to give them your full attention and be very aware of distractions. As soon as you feel that either you or the other partner is distracted, communicate in a respectful way. Set it up so they want to engage with you. Don’t wait until things are totally broken but at that first hint of distraction take action.

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