Are the Oldest Children Making Business Decisions? The #1 Hindrance to Business Success

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I had an interesting conversation with my Daughter’s teacher. My 7-year old had a difficult day at school that resulted in a few tears. The difficult day was actually caused by a challenging writing assignment. For her morning work, she had to write about the trees in our yard. The teacher wanted her to be descriptive; size, color, number, etc. This writing assignment was so overwhelming that it caused my Daughter to cry.

Why? Well, we don’t have any trees in our yard. As my Daughter later explained “I was so stressed out!” Perhaps it’s the oldest child stereotype, but my Daughter is a pleaser and a perfectionist. She wants to do things perfectly, right out of the gate. She doesn’t understand that most things must be learned, and that takes time and patience. If she can’t master a skill immediately she wants to give up. We’re working on refocusing that anxiety and frustration towards her complimentary competitive nature. We’re coaching her on using failure and adversity as a catalyst for continued improvement. It’s a hard concept for her to grasp. o-OLDEST-CHILD-facebook

It’s a hard concept for most adults to grasp as well. When I speak with businesses I notice a commonality in their internal challenges. Whether they’re implementing change management, developing a new product, or strategizing a new communications plan there is always a hindrance. And the hindrance isn’t money, resources, talent, or time. The hindrance is pursuit of perfection.

I cannot list the number of semi-completed projects I worked on that never saw the light of day. Websites, product integrations, and content assets were practically marked complete but were never launched because they weren’t perfect. I’d often hear, “It’s not perfect yet”, or the more subtle “I’m still making improvements”. I started to wonder if oldest children were making all the business decisions.

I was trained to practice the 1/3:2/3 rule. 1/3 of your time should be spent planning, and 2/3 of your time should be spent on the actions. It’s a hard balance to strike. Some projects lack the required planning and follow the ready-fire-aim process. Other projects are sucked into the rainbow spinning wheel vortex of pre-planning, planning, and re-planning without ever executing.

In “The Social Network” Mark Zuckerberg compares technology, specifically Facebook, to fashion. He explains that “fashion is never complete”. Fashion is ever evolving, as is technology. It’s much more important that companies recognize the evolution of the work, as opposed to the end of it. And the evolution of that work must come through testing. Testing of messages, products, and processes. It’s only through testing that you can begin to measure the baseline and map the future progress of the initiative.

As I’ve coached my daughter, don’t worry about being perfect, focus on improvement. Allow yourself room for learning and growth. I’m not sure how you define perfect, but it’s very easy to define imperfection because that’s what everything is. It’s better to launch something that is imperfect, but has an opportunity, than investing in something that has no potential because it will never see the light of day.


Marilyn Cox

Marilyn Cox is the Director of Marketing for Second City Works - the B2B division of the famed Second City.

You know the buzzwords; inbound, outbound, content, demand gen, lead gen, martech, social media, account-based, advocacy, customer success, sales enablement, and analytics.She studies it, plans it, executes it, experiments with it, and loves it.

Through discovery, creation, and innovation she's learned to say "Yes, And".Like business, her career is one big improvisational act.

She leads all aspects of the brand and culture, developing and executing a clearly defined, integrated marketing communications strategy.Marilyn is responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, training, and managing all marketing functions to achieve objectives of growth, awareness, customer success and making work better.

Marilyn exists to empower sales and support the customer. When not geeking out over marketing analytics, she can be found daydreaming about her unrealized dream as a professional wrestler with the WWE.

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