My son is now 18-years old, but for many years when he was younger, I got thrust into the role of youth basketball coach. I’ll readily admit I wasn’t much of a hooper myself, but I liked the sport and played it a lot myself growing up. Plus, how hard is it really to coach a bunch of elementary school kids? I developed a simple philosophy, and I said it so much that my players made fun of me. And they razed me much worse on my mantra as they became teenagers. My philosophy was “layups are fun.” I would tell the kids over and over, just take the easy two points. We don’t always need three-point bombs or fancy passes. Just take the layup, cuz layups are fun.
As I got into my first startup leadership role at Aquina Health, a FinTech-enabled healthcare lender, I realized that my “layups are fun” philosophy worked great there too. In that company, our version of a layup was a nice simple medical practice that wanted to borrow a small amount of money and had a solid risk profile. I would tell my underwriting team the same thing I told those fifth-grade ballers, “Layups are fun”. Do the simple deal, make a little money, and go onto the next opportunity. And guess what? My underwriting team didn’t like the layup advice any more than my hoops team did. Everyone wanted to work on the big sexy deals with bigger profits, but with higher risks and more competition.
My challenge to all the founders reading this today is to figure out where to get the quick wins in your own business. Find your “layups” and help the people in your organization to make those “fun”. Don’t just celebrate the 360 dunk or the game winning shot, celebrate the layups too. Create a culture in your startup that celebrates the small daily wins that lead to a strong company. This will give everyone on your team a chance to shine and feel valued, not just the superstars who can tomahawk dunk.
That’s it for today’s Founder Coach post, I hope you got something useful you can apply to your own business.