We launched the CEO fellowship not because we think everyone should get that title at some point but because of our unflinching belief that every person on the planet must have the tools to create their category of one.
The science on this is clear - until we have the combination of autonomy, mastery and purpose, we will continue to be unmotivated. If we are unmotivated or chasing someone else’s dreams, we cannot be free to live, experiment and be on our terms.
The AMP Framework
The first factor towards being motivated over a sustained period is autonomy. It is our innate desire to be self-directed but the extent of autonomy depends upon the kind of person we are. Some of us thrive in anarchy and some need direction to function. Thinking about where you stand on the spectrum is critical. There is a reason why some terrific entrepreneurs are terrible employees and vice versa.
The second is mastery. We often make the mistake of confusing passion with purpose. While purpose is focused on larger meaning and impact on business/society, passion turns out to be a whim.
Passion is a byproduct of focused work. Real estate investor and Shark Tank’s “Shark” Barbara Corcoran is often heard saying that she didn’t follow her passion. She stumbled on it as she was working relentlessly to solve a problem she cared about. Research done by the likes of Oxford University’s William MacAskill and author Cal Newport, engaging work helps us develop passion, not the other way around.
The third and last factor is purpose. We all want our work to contribute to something larger than us. Voltaire was right when he said that work spares us from three evils: boredom, vice, and need but he didn’t live in the age of technology. In the digital era, if work doesn’t add meaning to our lives, it will cease to exist.
The Market Gap
The career intelligence market is broken. It is filled with misleading advice that seems like a twisted form of pattern matching. Your most successful relative did X so you should aspire to that. The most famous CEO of a certain nationality did Y so you should follow suit.
Pattern matching is indicative and should not become prescriptive. Basically, if pattern matching leads to copying, it fails to take into account the operating context of the person we admire.
It is impossible to build a category of one by emulation without improvisation. No one is stating that you should not learn from those who succeed but by blindly following their path, we are setting ourselves for inevitable disappointment. We may not succeed in playing someone else’s game and even if we succeed, we will never know if we were following our dreams and curiosities or someone else’s.
The Skill Gap
Coding, analytical skills and the whole spectrum of hard skills are important. You cannot rise early in your career without them but after a certain point, the game belongs to the rainmaker - the person who generates business, relationships and value.
In the current market, there is disproportionate emphasis on hard skills and too little attention to things that actually shape leadership. The prevalent norm is to acquire hard skills, degrees, skill indicators and then casually figure other things out.
The challenge is that leadership, especially one that delivers, takes deliberate practice. The word deliberate is worth pondering over. Practice is insufficient. In fact, practice without feedback often backfires. We need a carefully curated system of building our leadership muscles. It isn’t fundamentally different from working out under the guidance of a coach.
The CEO Fellowship
Unless we start early and allocate time for our leadership to blossom, we will get suboptimal results. These things take a while. The two minute noodle or instant coffee approach does not work. There is no app you can download or class you can take to become a CEO. It is a mindset to achieve AMP (Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose) for yourself, your team and your community that defines long-term success.
In the CEO fellowship, we will focus on three things.
First, thinking deeply. Let’s call it second order thinking. In our modern lives of perennial distractions, the ability to be indistractable (a term coined by author Nir Eyal) is our super power. Be it religion or politics or policy or business, there are obvious things that everyone claims to be aware of (surface level knowledge) but very few actually dive deep and form their own points of view. It is easy to be loud and wrong. Sitting comfortably in an echo chamber is the enemy of good decision making. And if you cannot make sound, contrarian decisions, you won’t last a day in the CEO chair. Again, CEO is just one of the many things you can choose to aspire for. Second order thinking will be a vital problem solving tool for life. Whether you are choosing to invest in a company, buy a house or cast a vote, it will propel clarity.
Clarity is power and second-order thinking enables that. It is a habit shaped with practice. You won’t suddenly become a deep thinker tomorrow but if you commit to trying, in a few months it will seem natural. You will be able to filter signal from noise.
Second, writing clearly. Network Capital would not exist if we didn’t learn how to communicate complex ideas through the power of words. It is an acquired skill honed with practice Almost every leader worth remembering writes well.
Good writing is persuasive, stylist and as Elizabeth Gilbert likes to call - surprising and inevitable. Good writing is both art and science.
A common misconception about writing is that style is inborn. To some extent, it may be. Who cares? Do you want to spend even a moment thinking about something you cannot influence? Would you not channel the same energy and time trying to experiment with what you have. Style comes with experimentation and experimentation is often a byproduct of confidence developed through deliberate practice.
Third, speak purposefully. As you rise to become CEOs, community leaders and world leaders, you will realize that complex coordination is the single most important charter for you. You will need to learn to inspire people, give tough feedback and do so with empathy.
Legendary investor Warren Buffet says that one of the best investments he has ever made is to enroll in a public speaking course. He was petrified of sharing his views publicly and the course helped him become reasonably good. He explains that speaking well is an asset that will pay dividends for 60-70 years and turn out to be a liability if kept unchecked.
Through the speaking module of the CEO Fellowship, we will prepare you to deliver memorable TED talks. It won’t happen in a day or a week but it will happen if you lean in and trust our process.
The duration of the CEO Fellowship duration is one month but you are in this community and cohort for life. Think of it is as YOUR personal challenger network that will give you regular feedback and also cheer for you as you move forward.
Network Capital succeeds only when you succeed. We are all in to make that happen for you. Are you?
Have a charming day!
Your INSIDER Team,
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