Just a Spoonful of Sugar, Not Artificial Sweetener
It takes just about 20 minutes wandering through The Refinery to realize that things are done very differently around here — and I’ve learned a thing or two being surrounded by an abundance of #bossbabes over the past few months.
With an unconventional background crunching data in manufacturing facilities and riding four wheelers during lunch breaks, I’ve experienced first-hand the hyper-masculine and militaristic style of doing business in Central Texas. Through these roles, I quickly discovered that the polarization of my personal and professional life was becoming quite suffocating. I also found that quantitative savvy always trumped qualitative in the eyes of my bosses — and I believe true success is found when quantitative and qualitative collide.
Over the past few years, I’ve transitioned to agency life with over-the-top collaborative offices, happy hour client meetings, and a much more individualistic atmosphere. I realized that it was okay to be friends with your boss and my team, sharing bits and pieces of what makes me — me.
The most interesting difference I noticed at The Refinery specifically is the refreshing absence of intimidating office theatrics. Things you definitely won’t see at The Refinery include: bombastic sales presentations, intense boardroom meetings, and people running around frantically due to a misalignment between external ambition, internal motivation, and realistic bandwidth.
We take care of ourselves first and foremost — and that’s not only encouraged, it’s expected within this community of creatives.
Now this begs the question — what do these #bossbabes know that the rest of the world doesn’t? How do they paddle swiftly below the water while floating effortlessly above water?
In short — the currency of negotiation at The Refinery is friendship.
Whether it’s with your team, clients, partners, vendors, sponsors — they’re all friends first and foremost. When someone drops a proposal in my inbox, I have strong confidence before opening the note that it comes from a genuine place of fueling win/win opportunities for everyone involved. As you can imagine, that confidence results in a much quicker affirmative response and I’ve yet to be proven wrong by my peers.
Now, I know what you’re thinking — don’t we all wish it was this easy?
I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s not. Making a true friend before sending the first proposal requires extreme patience — think Jeff Bezos waiting seven years to turn a profit. Getting to know not only their background and the basics of what they do is only half the battle.
The two questions I always ask entrepreneurs is: "What was the tipping point that convinced you to finally go all-in on this idea? What is your qualitative, not just quantitative definition of success?"
Through these two questions, I gain a firmer understanding of their true intentions, their risk tolerance, and how they take the first step across endeavors both big and small. Most importantly, I learn what their mission is — and I'm not talking the one that's neatly spelled out on their website. I'm talking about the one in their heart which singularly influences how they engage with everyone the encounter, both strangers and friends.
After weeks, months, and in my experience, even years of get togethers and happy hours — agonizing! — you’ll finally stumble upon the 10/10 perfect opportunity to collaborate. Chances are, they'll have a few quick questions, followed by an enthusiastic "yes" because they know that you waited until just the right time to reach out and as a close friend, you simply wouldn't send them an unreasonable or detrimental offer. You've proven to them through friendship — in the absence of those intense sales meetings and negotiations — that you're collaborations always have been and always will be meaningful and uplifting experiences for everyone involved.
Hopefully by now, the intention behind the title of this article is starting to materialize. Just a spoonful of genuine intentions is what it truly takes to be successful in Austin's entrepreneurial community.
But if you really need the medicine to go down, I strongly recommend a matcha latte next door at The Squeezery — with steamed almond milk because summer is upon us and I'm only six days into #Whole30.