It’s almost the weekend! I hope your Friday is going well. Welcome back to another episode of Ask Ash, where I interview WatchMojo Founder & CEO Ashkan Karbasfrooshan and interview him on various topics, ranging from what is going on in the news to career advice for students & entrepreneurs.
Today’s topic is Alignment. As Ash leads WatchMojo, it is important that he aligns his values and missions with his employees so that WatchMojo can continue to be a powerhouse in entertainment. I wanted to get his thoughts on how he aligns his career with his employees, and if he cares about his employees as much as his own as well.
Do you believe that you care for your employee’s careers as much as your own career?
Entrepreneurs and founders are players, coaches, general managers, presidents, and owners. It’s a unique situation. When you start off, you have the ambition to succeed, you need a vision based on the opportunity you see, you have to persist to execute, with luck and timing, you find product/market fit and then focus to develop the resilience needed to be built to last. All of that basically means that you have to complement your strengths and skills with others. A swimmer doesn’t really need to worry about the rest of the swimming squad in an individual race, but if you are in a relay, suddenly you care about others. But if you are playing a team sport, you certainly care if others get injured, or don’t put in their best performance. For this reason, you are constantly prioritizing others’ emotions, ambitions, insecurities, and feelings because your commitment to your business is somewhat different, but if you cannot get buy-in from others, the unit suffers. Now, many founders are way too vain and self-centered… and that affects the organization. I joke that I am too modest to put myself ahead of others, but I am not modest enough to have a website like this where I offer up my lessons to other entrepreneurs… so everything is relative, but absolutely, in business, it’s best to be long term greedy and that means that if you give today, you can get back more over time, with interest so to speak.
When you try to get the best out of people, you have to stay good and see the best version of people, and sometimes that sets you up for disappointment. But there’s no other way to get the most out of a team. Now of course, if eventually, people don’t care about their career – or their reputation, their future, etc. – you cannot do things for them and it’s best to recognize that sometimes, things don’t work out and it’s fine to part ways. That’s also a part of life.
As the leader of WatchMojo, do you set goals that align with your employee’s goals?
So most CEOs and founders can’t really speak truthfully because their boards, shareholders, and PR teams would lose their minds for speaking candidly, but in any organization, you have this kind of dynamic:
– 1% are leaders
– 10% are active followers, engaged, etc.
– 89% are passive followers.
The numbers may differ from company to company, but as an organization grows, it’s a reflection of reality. So recognizing that many employees may not have the loftiest of personal or professional goals, it goes back to what I said recently about understanding that work is a means to an end, and if you can find out what that end goal is, then it’s possible to come up with an alignment. What you want to avoid, however, is a downward spiral whereas as a leader you begin to set goals based on the so-called lowest common denominator – that is a slippery slope. Now that doesn’t mean that the so-called lowest common denominator is a bad person, or lazy, etc. it just means they view the Work/Life/Play paradigm differently and have different priorities but an organization cannot be optimal or successful by benchmarking to its “weakest link.” So as a leader, you have to set goals that are lofty and ambitious but then build a complementary team of driven go-getters and support players who together become optimal, efficient, and effective.