My Advice to a young guy starting something new
I got an email from Chris. He’s just out of college and has been offered his dream job—but it’s big—way bigger than anything he’s done in the past.
Chris, here’s my advice:
Focus first on developing a good relationship with a few leaders
Relationships are the foundation that you’ll be building a new work on top of. People need to know you, trust you, like you, and believe that you’re capable and care about them too.
Develop a simple strategy
Strategy is deciding what you’re going to do and what you’re not going to do to achieve a vision. Make it simple. For instance, when I was first asked to run theResurgence.com the strategy at the beginning was to create one great article from the best writer I could convince to write every day all run by volunteers. Many people would come in with an editorial calendar and create something unsustainably complicated. I figured that if I got good writers a solid volunteer team that I would have a foundation to build off as my project got traction.
Get a small win, then another
Gaining momentum quickly is key—you’ll want to pick a small win that is easily obtainable that will remind you and those around you that what you’re doing is both important and possible. If I were coming into a new church with the task of starting up small groups I would probably try to immediately get a group of 3-5 men together for a three week study on getting community started. It’s low commitment for these men, and if even one potential leader comes out of this group you’ve already showed that you can get some traction. If you get a small win don’t go for a big win, go for another small win—in this case you could start another 3 week study and have your new leaders help lead.
When many folks take on a new role or a large project they get paralyzed by the complexity of the task. If you’re starting small you can make informed decisions and if they’re bad decisions you have time to change those decisions. One caveat—I would highly suggest that you make sure that you have the resources to follow through on the decision you make.
Find an expert in your field and meet them
Most of the problems that you’re going to encounter in your new project have been solved many times over. In todays world where you can @reply almost anyone on Twitter, you’d be suprised how many folks are willing to help you. The key is to tell your story succinctly and well, ask specific questions that show you’ve done your research, and try to make it worth their while.
Ask for feedback from the wisest people and the dumbest
It doesn’t matter how smart you are. You’re going to do a bunch of stuff wrong—even simple things that should be obvious is often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of projects. Find some people that really know what they’re talking about and ask them as many questions as they’ll allow. Listen. Take Notes.
Then find some of the dumbest people you can locate. They will help you test the assumptions that you have—if they’re confused it means you’re not clear.