Operational Consulting | CRE Asset Advisory | Career Coaching

Life lessons I learned from Barbara, Part 2

Last week I relayed two of Barbara Corcoran’s lessons regarding perceptions and creating the reality you want. This week I want to focus on two others that she spoke of that were particularly intriguing to me.

1. There are two different kinds of people: Containers & Expanders. Barbara’s philosophy is that “Containers” are people who are controllers, organized, systematic and analytical. They are the ones that keep things within their boundaries, enforcing budgets, deadlines, logic and practicality (to use my terms). “Expanders” are people who have showmanship, are creative and visionary. You can spot them because they are effervescent and sometimes seem like they literally need to be “contained”. Her experience has taught her that pairing a Container with an Expander is a powerful combination as they bring complementary strengths to each other. Perhaps this is the business version of “opposites attract” but she takes it a step further by saying that one plus one equals three.

I agree with, but would add to, her theory that both parties must recognize and appreciate the strengths the other brings to the table and utilize them. Often we get caught up in our ego or in not wanting to ask for help and fail to avail ourselves of these complementary strengths. If you are a Container, being around someone who is less structured may help you see different opportunities. Or if you are an Expander, the structure a Container brings to your life might keep you on track and focused on the issue at hand. If we can learn from each other and appreciate the teamwork involved in utilizing other’s strengths, we all perform better and advance the cause for ourselves and our teams.

2. Shoot the Dogs Early. As soon as you realize that something is a “dog”, deal with it right away. This must be a great lesson because I heard it twice in less than a week in reference to two different scenarios. But the point is the same – a bad investment will never become a good one, a bad employee will drag down the rest of your staff, or a bad process will drain your organization. So, after determining there is no hope, cut your losses and move on.

Hmmm. How does that piece of advice apply to you if you’re not the owner or manager? Simple. You need to know if you’re the “dog”! Don’t be. Be the invaluable one. The one that can be relied upon to do the job right the first time, on time, and with excellence. Have a positive can-do attitude. Be committed to the company and team and be certain your actions align with the company goals. There are usually signs when you are the dog. So watch carefully and course correct if you need to.

Think about whether you are a Container or an Expander. And as you approach life, strengthen yourself by connecting with your counterpart. But if you’re the dog, get your act together and don’t be shot!