Today I prepare.
Tomorrow I have my team’s offsite. I will be at work for 24hrs. I will travel. I will leave Jacob. The timing is perfectly planned. Jacob is at the best part of his cycle and doesn’t start cycle 3 until Friday. He is “fine.” He still has the immunity of a newborn, but he is not without one completely, and he can play all day! No hospital visits for 3 days STRAIGHT! This is a first.
And I feel good about this.
I am so excited to see the team. The miracle team. The Mind the Gap team.
But before I start working, I need to clear up an email I got. It made me sound like Mother Teresa. It was SO kind. TOO kind and just UNREALISTIC. I need to set the record straight, because I know there are other mothers and fathers of children with cancer reading this and I want to be clear.
In this email, this too kind human, went on and on, how I manage to do it all. How I not only am being a mom to Jacob, Benno, I’m helping other all kids with cancer, and on top of that, running a business to change the landscape of education. Honestly, when I read that all in one sentence, it does sound superhuman.
But I want to tell you a secret and this is something I hope you can listen to because you can’t do it all. No one can do that! That is an unfair expectation and I hope you are not judging yourself against such a metric.
The secret. I ONLY surround myself with the best and then I empower them.
That is my secret. Seriously. It sounds really easy, but it’s not. Trust me…I’ve watched so many “leaders” fail at this. Even my superiors. I watch them DROWN and fail because of this. It is something that requires trust. I do think it also requires experience. I’ve run lots of teams and some of them over 100 people. But maybe you can skip all that experience, by just knowing this- PEOPLE MATTER. Focus on the people and make them feel valued. Otherwise…they leave. And people are hard to replace.
Because no matter what your idea is, it comes down to execution. If you have read my posts on my business, you most likely said “that makes complete sense. Higher education is crumbling. We need change!” Of course, it does. I’m talking common sense. And as Peter Kash, who has recently entered my life, and become one of my favorite all-time people, put it so clearly.
We put man on the moon before man invented the ROLLING suitcase.
I mean seriously?! I would imagine many people traveling came up with this concept. “What if this was on wheels?!” But they just accepted luggage for what it is. Just accepted it and kept LUGGING. I know they thought about it, but DOING it is different than thinking. Thinking is easy.
Life is not about ideas, they turn out to be are free, it’s about execution, and that comes down to one thing, people. I value people. And I only take the BEST.
But don’t get it twisted. Managing people is not just about empowerment it is about match. Do they match your vision? Do they sweat blood and tears? Do they care and do they know about WE instead of “I?” Do they live that mission?
I have fired 10x more people than my husband (who is in the business world) and more people than anyone I know in the education space. I’m sure at times my team thought I was missing a sensitivity gene. I would walk into meetings with my team and just announce “XXX has got to go.” And this often would be enough to make someone cry. Not that they didn’t agree, it was just so sad. We were not firing a lazy secretary or a sales associate not making their “numbers.” We were letting go, teachers. People who chose to go into this field. People who chose to never make “money.” People who chose to work with children. They are all good humans.
And I did something even more controversial. I fired mid-year. I fired within the first month of school. This is unheard of and criminal to many of my peers for multiple reasons.
- It is hard for teachers to get a job midyear and they will need to explain why they are jobless midyear. When I do this, I take away someone’s livelihood.
- When speaking to my peers (at other schools) there was not ONE that advised me to do this. “The parents will EAT you alive. Just support the teacher. Let him/her go at the end of the year if you have to. You will be eaten alive.”
And yes, they would eat me alive. They would ask “how did that person get hired in the first place?” That is a fair question and I would answer it 36 times, often more. Some need to hear it more than once. But you know the answer. When we hire we get to see the best side of people. They demo a lesson. We interview them 4x. We check references, but 1 out of 20 hires is a mistake (at least that was my ratio. Not sure if there is real data on misfires, share if you have it!).
And we should admit mistakes. EVEN if that means being yelled at 36 times. That’s how many parent phone calls I would need to make, 36. And I took them as it’s not about the ADULTS it’s about the KIDS. Kids are resilient. They will get over the change quickly. Three weeks later they will not even remember the teacher before, but the parent, they don’t forget. They worry about the “trauma.” The three weeks missed, instead of worrying about a whole year that could have been missed.
But, it was just that simple for me. If I walked in and said in my head “I would not want my child in this class.” DONE. OVER and let’s do it QUICK.
So my team is the best. I only accept the best.
They bleed for kids. They cry for what is happening now to them and they are ready and able to make change. So while yes I’m running a business, I also have an army behind me, I have my work “Friends.” I appreciate them and I KNOW that their work is good. I check it daily and it blows me away. Yesterday I had ONE edit. Out of 100’s of decisions.
So please kind human, know that I have a team. I can only do this with a team. Just like I can only do cancer with my friends.
So today, I prepare for my off-site. We are a true startup. We are creating not just the rolling suitcase, but the VERTICAL rolling suitcase. We are executing on the obvious. We are going to change the world.
Mind the Gap team. I have a bit of homework for you. Before tomorrow, please watch this.
And hear this here first. Let me declare it out loud and then again to you in private tomorrow.
EVERY DOLLAR of profit I make from Mind the Gap is going towards cancer. EVERY DOLLAR.
So know this. I’m fired up.
This has to be a success in EVERY way. Foremost changing kids lives, but also, financial. This money has important work to do. This money is going to save lives.