On a visit to San Francisco, home to Silicon Valley, Jenene Crossan ponders the value – and rarity – of those people who can actually Get Stuff Done.
Approximately halfway into my tour I came across my first bumblebee. Well, a new one anyhow. Vaughan’s already a fully-fledged paid-up member, so he doesn’t count. No, I mean I found a bona fide, never met before bumblebee (full credit to Mr Mike Carden of Sonar6 for the introduction to Kirsty Traill from Snapfish.com – he got this one bang on the money).
You know when you meet some people and from the moment you start talking you just swallow up time? That was us last Wednesday night – holed up in a dimly-lit wine bar in the middle of Russian Hill, solving the problems of the world. We pretty much covered the gambit of subjects from the world of startups to the dating rituals of San Franciscans.
I’m lucky enough in my various businesses that I get to meet loads of different types of people every day. I meet loads of smart people, connected people, organised people, driven people. What I really dug about Kirsty was that she was all of these things, but also a GSD person.
This is a phrase I coined a few years back when hiring staff and realised that what we wanted was people who didn’t just talk about what they could do, but could walk it too – well, actually, run it at a sprint. Yip, sounds easy enough – but in reality so many people are caught up in businesses that make it difficult to Get Stuff Done (policies, processes, legalities, bureaucracy) that they’ve become accustomed to not actually doing all that much. I’m not sure they realise that they don’t get to achieve all that much, simply because that’s just as long as it takes to get stuff done in their world. But in my world, that’s called Losing Money.
I don’t like Losing Money. It’s not for me and it’s the antithesis of any startup – we have finite resources (unless you’re Xero ;0). I need people who can find ways around waiting and can move forward despite the obstacles in front of them – and move other people at the same time. In fact, someone who can move large volumes of people against their wills, in the direction that they need them. Someone who, when someone says ‘no’, can figure out how to make it a ‘yes’.
THAT is Kirsty. Her reputation is of exactly that – able to see what needs to be done and can then go and make it happen and bring many others on her journey. Maybe that’s easy enough in a startup where you can row your own canoe – but in a business owned by a very large corporate (Snapfish.com is owned by HP), that’s one seriously impressive skill set.
I love the energy and passion that people like Kirsty display – she’s got things to do and she’s getting them done. It was refreshing to discuss how to spot other GSD people – everyone claims to be one in an interview, but how to actually work out if they’re or not is part good interviewing and part intuition.
We work in a tornado-like environment. It’s high energy and fast paced. Things move quickly. Things change. The end goals remain the same – but as I describe it, we’re going from letter A to letter Z, via every letter in the alphabet. Usually those who prefer a more sedate existence don’t last long in these types of businesses. But that is what a startup is like and it’s hugely rewarding for those who do enjoy it.
I truly believe that we need an injection of entrepreneurship into our corporate environments in New Zealand. We have the talent, now the leaders – like Kirsty – need to empower the people to embrace GSD!
Jenene Crossan is the founder of nzgirl.co.nz, online research company 18 Ltd, developed Australasia's first female-centric masthead ad network and earlier this year relaunched Flossie.com as a vanity club (a quiet-time appointments website for the hair and beauty industry). She is also a director of bespoke email advertising product Actual Dialogue, has won accolades throughout the world and developed a solid reputation for being an opinionated bossy-britches unwilling to sit still