Supporting Learners on the Way to Self-realization
5 MAJOR lessons a novice entrepreneur realized on his 6 month long journey
Published November 8, 2016 by IHB
Matija Đumić has learned something valuable while trying to get closer to his vision. Here are some of the thoughts of the Digital Marketing Manager @Impact Hub Belgradeabout his own path.
Ever since I started working and building my career, on every position I had, or organization I worked for, there was one thing that seemed to be constantly repeating itself: I always wanted more — more work, responsibilities, results, people to work with, challenges. It just seemed nothing was quite enough, no matter how big of a challenge it was or how much effort it required.
At least that was until I joined Impact Hub Belgrade in the beginning of this year. I joined driven by entrepreneurial spirit and the idea of developing a new program within Impact Hub — a digital marketing program that would focus on content marketing and scaling internationally through the Impact Hub network, which later developed into what we now call Impact Hub Belgrade Everest.
Having adopted a mindset of constant learning and development earlier in my career, I anticipated challenges and have anticipated that there’s gonna be a lot of stuff I have to learn anew. However, even with this mindset, my level of anticipation fell drastically short of the actual level of difficulty and constant challenges I had to adapt to. Six months passed by very fast, filled with a TON of content — good moments, bad moments, very bad moments and depressing moments. Throughout this 6 months there’s been A LOT of challenges — both personal and professional.
One thing that I can say for sure is that after this period I feel an unparalleled amount of professional and personal growth. I’ve learned so much about entrepreneurship, marketing, different aspects of business and about myself, what I want and where do I want to go. Here are the 5 biggest lessons I got out for myself, through the good and the bad times, that are shaping me and will be influencing my performance, career and life in the months and years to come.
1. Working with people — setting boundaries with who and how you work with.
During one of my AIESEC experiences, as a President of a local chapter, I showcased an extremely result oriented leadership style and behavior. This proved fatal for the team atmosphere and culture, that left a very bitter taste after the term ended. After this experience I shifted my leadership style to a new extreme — extremely caring about people, their needs and goals. This proved wrong, because I ended “wasting” a lof of time on people that were simply not interested in their own development or pushing themselves forward and moving our organization forward with it as well. However I still dedicated time to them, and the ROI (return on investment) just wasn’t adequate.
However, now that 6 months have passed I feel like I’ve found my balance and the “right” way to do it. Here’s the thing: the investment of my time on moving a person forward professionally and even personally costs money. Every hour I invest in that, costs us money because I can be spending it on something else. I’m not saying that you should not invest in people: you should invest but not in every single person that makes up your team or every single person that just joined the team. Investing in people is a two way street — the person you’re investing in through coaching, setting up personal goals, professional goals, specific marketing coaching in this case has to show interest, capacity and a certain amount of dedication in order to get the most out of it and in order for you to secure the ROI of your time investment. We should care about people and invest time and effort into making them better, but not if the people don’t care about themselves in the first place.Setting boundaries and drawing a line will save money and time. The last sentence even rhymes.
2. You have to put in a lot of hard work — and I mean a lot.
People need a reality check and I don’t want to sound harsh. If you want to start up a business/venture/ initiative of your own, that’s entrepreneurially based you’re gonna have to put in A LOT OF HARD WORK into it. This probably means your weekends won’t look the way they look like now. It means that you will be working 12+ hours on most days. It means it’s not easy and it won’t get easier as time goes by. It’s probably gonna take you a couple of years as well, not 3 months or 6 months. More like 3 to 5 years. If you think you can “hack” it, “cheat” the system, succeed fast — where others have failed to do so, you’re wrong. You can’t escape the hard work — so you better choose what you love, it will make things easier in the long run.
3. Role modeling is very important. It’s crucial.
Recently I’ve read a very extensive and detailed blog post about the role of emotional intelligence and role modeling in leadership and shaping teams. This is the quote that caught my eye the most: “Leaders mood is contagious — the way he/she feels, acts and communicates”. If you’re miserable, if you’re pissed of, negative, depressed — your team is going to showcase that. And here’s the truth — there’s NO WAY you can hide or conceal how you feel. You can’t fake it — people we see it and feel it. They will act accordingly. Managing your own emotions, ups and downs and how you feel around your team mates is CRUCIAL to forming a team culture you want. This leads me to the next mistake I’ve made.
4. Balance is CRUCIAL — what you eat, drink, how you sleep and how you feel.
In the airplane, before lift off, the stewardess says: “Put your own oxygen mask first before helping others”. In order to help others, to deliver more value to your team, your clients, your business — you first have to help yourself. Without balance you will crash (I did numerous times). Nutrition, sleep and balance is equally important as learning and acquiring new knowledge in my opinion. Because, if you do it right, it increases your stamina and energy level dramatically = better role modeling, more work done and better results. I was fortunate enough to realize this in the first 6 months, because I crashed every few weeks for at least 2 or 3 days — and realized that this is not long termly sustainable. Especially if I take into consideration that I’m gonna be doing this for at least the next 3 years, probably 5. I’m not very good at balance either right now — still eat a lot of junk food and have irregular sleep, however I’m working on it. 🙂
5. Having a long term goal/vision/mission that drives you and motivates you daily, is very very important.
It’s very very hard to find motivation to invest the effort required, energy and passion on a DAILY level until you achieve a goal. Especially if the goal is 3 years away, or 5 years away — still you have to perform on a daily level. The only way I’ve found to motivate yourself is to have a clear vision, a clear image of what you want to achieve that fills you with passion and energy and EXCITES you to perform. To be quite honest — I don’t think you need a fancy introspection process in order to set this vision up, I think you just need to be honest with yourself and dig deep in order to find what motivates you the most.
And it doesn’t have to be something super fancy or super long term — just the one thing that currently motivates you and that sticks with you. For me, It’s starting up the Impact Hub Everest initiative in Impact Hub New York City. This is not tied up to our long term goals, nor it’s tied up to revenue, nor the vision we’re trying to achieve. It’s just something that currently, for me, represents a vision that moves me on a deeper level. It fills me with excitement, I can see it clearly in my mind, how I would feel at that moment. I can clearly see myself standing at the Gantry Plaza overlooking the NYC skyline after 12 hours of meeting and working times. It drives me and pushes me forward. It’s not the smartest goal ever, or a goal I have concrete steps for, nor is it a goal I’m currently focusing on — it’s just a vision that drives me to perform on a daily level.
The path of entrepreneurship is very exciting and filled with a TON of obstacles. I just started and have a lot more steps to go through, a lot more things to learn and a lot more lessons to realize. However, for the first 6 months, these are the things I’ve learned that I believe will help me push myself forward. I hope this article can help you at least a little bit, to not repeat the mistakes I’ve made.