This post was originally published on Joel.is.
Around the end of 2018, the concept of a support network came to me. This is the year I started working with Mandy, my second Assistant Executive. Caryn, with whom I worked as that for about a year and a half, switched to head the Finance Division. This void without support helped me think about the most ideal setup.
Journey to a support network
When I first started working with an Executive Assistant, I thought they could help me by taking on a lot of the tasks I did on my own. And this is true in many ways. For the second time, I realized that the last way that EA could help me scale was to be a major partner in creating a network of support around me.
Instead of letting EA take over my tax filings, the best they can do is help me find three people I can meet to decide on a great financial advisor to work with over the long term. And this approach can be implemented in multiple disciplines and can be done on its own without an EA. Now I believe the best way to achieve your full potential in life is to form a support network for yourself and cultivate it over time.
In some ways, even thinking of getting this kind of support is like a privilege, and it is. At the same time, I believe thinking this way should be something for everyone, at least in some form. We all have mentors and people who support us in many different ways, we already have parents or grandparents in that role. And for specific needs, we have the people we can reach: we have dentists and general practitioners. We may not think of this as a network of support that we nurture and intentionally create. And as a prime example of one aspect of a support network, I think most of us should have a therapist.
Spontaneous and conscientious support
Your friends and partners are also great pieces of your support network. But there is a risk of relying too heavily on those people to support you in difficult times. It can be damaging to them, and it can take a hard time for them.
In that sense, having naturally existing relationships as your only support could be at risk and put you in a more vulnerable position. I personally find that having a therapist I see regularly has helped me handle and overcome some of my challenges and in turn help them form better and in a healthier place. to discuss them in a different way with my partner.
This doesn’t mean don’t share challenges with partners or friends, and I usually do. In general, you communicate more frequently with your partner and friends than with a therapist, so it’s more likely that you will share it with them first. However, knowing that you will see a therapist in the next few days will help relieve some of the stress you feel and the need to find a solution. And when you talk to your therapist, you get the chance to approach the challenge from a different angle.
Rely on your cofounder for everything
I’ve found that having a co-founder also makes it easier for you to avoid more dedicated support like a therapist or a coach. Once you have a co-founder, it’s easy to rely on them for all of these assistive functions. This is a great aspect of having a co-founder who can be your best support. It’s also easy to build this trust, because your co-founder could be the person you talk to more than anyone else, maybe even a spouse.
Not having a coach in the last year or two working with my co-founder is something I consider wrong. As both of us become more exhausted, and our vision for the company and natural choices of different approaches, we cannot be the ones helping each other in specific challenges. there. Although I think the result of a breakup is always the right outcome, having a coach can make the journey to that outcome a smoother outcome.
The main risk of relying too heavily on natural relationships for support is that they don’t have to be the best people to help you. They won’t be the best therapist, or the best coach, or the best financial advisor you can get. In addition, these relationships are two-way roads. You cannot take too much otherwise it will feel one-sided and unbalanced.
Types of support to consider
Here are some of the types of support I have provided to myself over the past few years:
- Executive Assistant
- Financial advisor / CPA
- Founders / CEO group at the same level
- Windsurfing and kite windsurfing guides
- House cleaning
Other forms of support I’m considering for in the coming years:
- Personal trainer
- Language tutor
In general, the mentors and tutors are part of the whole group of being taught, which is something I focus more and more on. For my most recent surfing vacations, mostly due to Jess suggestions / requests, I have lessons almost every day. And I definitely made faster progress alone.
Of course, for most of us, cost is the main factor here. However, it is worthwhile to establish some of these relationships even if you don’t have regular sessions set up, even if you only have a single session.
For example, I worked closely with a therapist for about two years. Since mid-2019, I have not seen my therapist very often and have used some of the tools she referred to me. However, I know that if I have a specific issue or want to have regular sessions back in a few months, I can contact her. Having a present relationship makes the barriers to the future much lower.
There are several other benefits of getting professional support. First, they will have their own network of other people who can help. For example, my financial advisor is connected to a group of people who specialize in many different aspects and can connect me with an attorney to help set up the trust. Second, if you set up regular lessons, it will add an extra layer of self-responsibility in that area, maybe you have more money to study or learn a foreign language.
Start earlier than you think
If you are an individual, it may feel overkill to get some sort of onsite help. However, many of these supporting factors are most effective as preventive measures, rather than necessary measures. It’s best to put them in place before a crisis occurs, as the people you connect with can be ready and have the right context, or even help you avoid a crisis in the first place.
And as the founder / CEO, I personally wish I started working on my personal support network much earlier. If you have a growing organization, don’t wait too long. As a founder, you usually accomplish everything on your own and play every role. This can help you have a self-help thinking. However, if your company is starting to grow, if you are starting to hire people, I recommend building your support network now. It will help you to scale more smoothly, will make the journey more calm and will better equip you for problems that will inevitably arise.