S2 E90 — How Many Road Warriors Does It Take to Fuel Our Growth?

Early employees wore a lot of hats and loved it.  They also expected to be first in line when it came to heading up new functions. But, they were pissed off when outsiders from bigger companies stepped all over them when they were hired instead.

“5”  Steve Aoki, 41:Today’s problem isn’t so tough. Ask a few people, do a thorough internet search, read an article or two and you’ll know enough to make an informed decision.” Sagittarius

Hi and welcome to Sunday’s Episode 90 in Season 2 of  “My Pandemic Year Natural Experiment” on this 2nd day of August in the summer of 2020.  

“The Tau of Steves: What You Don’t Know Could Fill a Book”

Table of Contents

Season One and Two are a two-year examination of how bits of wisdom changed during the “normal” pre-pandemic and then in this unfolding pandemic year.

Previously in Season Two, the Pandemic Year

S2 E89Garage Bonking and Chasm Jumping; S2 E88Convincing Family, Friends, Fools and Angels; S2 E87Start Ups Aren’t For Everyone. Are They a Better or Worse Fit for You?

Related from Season One, the Normal Year

S1 E90Day 90 of My 1-Year Natural Experiment; S1 E89Because If You Don’t Someone Else Will. It’s Worth It!; S1 E88Who’s Marc Maron and What’s da Vinci got to do with him?; S1 E87 — Pipe Bombs Destroy Vacation Bliss


This is a continuation of “Volume Two Manuscript — WorkFit” a work-in-progress.

In a previous episode I summarized everything you need to know about four basic organizations to stack the odds in your favor when shopping around for your next job opportunity.  

Oh, what disaster to avoid (unlike me) in your next career move. 

Now we’re building on each of the 16 talent profiles.

16 Talent Profiles by Organization Type

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

For the next few episodes, we’ll show how they (you and I) can take advantage of opportunities in stages of organizational growth from Start Up to Maturity and from Decline to Reinvention.

Consequences of not Mastering Growth Crises

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

Key points to keep in mind:

    1. Every organization, including our 4 fundamental aspires to grow.
    2. The growth stages follow one after another from Start Up to 3 Growth phases to Maturity and Decline unless a Reinvention transformation kicks off before it is too late.
    3. Each new stage of growth requires a different talent culture than the previous one. One or two “talent tribes” dominate at each stage.
    4. There’s no guarantee a specific company and organization will master the gap between stage its current and potential next stage.
    5. That fact represents a second set of better or worse fits.

Bridging Leadership Gap Between Start Up to Emerging Growth

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

In our last episode we identified two more Emerging-Entrepreneur talent profiles, 108 Core Business Group and 107 Resilient Product Teams who join 105 Marketing Athletes in the Start Up phase to tighten operations and bridge the leadership gap into Emerging Growth. 

In a Start Up the founder sells a compelling vision of their future.  Just like our clients’ at Think!City did.  Or what happened to Proxima’s early employees who wore a lot of hats and loved it. 

They also expected to be first in line when it came to heading up functions.  That transition from organic free flowing ways of creating a company turned out to be the opposite of what helped them in the second stage.  And pissed off a lot of them when outsiders from bigger companies stepped all over them when they were hired.

Emerging Growth

26. Emerging Desktop Projector Company 

A smaller more manageable sized company of 200 employees generating revenues of roughly 200 million dollars required a full-time director of organizational development and training. Hot damn, that’s me.

Growth Stage from Emerging to Rapid

In the next stage the directive management style required to bridge the gap between start-up and early growth actually plants the seeds for a new crisis at the end of that Emerging Growth Stage.


In general it goes like this: 

Too much DIRECTION causes a crisis of AUTONOMY which forces DELEGATION in the next phase.

I learned after I took the job that growth danced between loosening and tightening and between innovation and efficiency.

    • So the early growth phase which Proxima had experienced was about tightening and efficiency in the evolutionary part of the lifecycle.
    • More than anything Proxima’s leaders craved accelerating growth. It competed in the emerging multi-media projector business.
    • Nobody really understood how the market niche would grow rapidly.
    • They were in the midst of extending, improving, and modifying the proprietary formula they had discovered by trial-and-error. 

In other words they set up methods to improve those things that worked but struggled to discard those things that didn’t.


Proxima’s market mostly consisted of “road warriors” — all those making presentations in sales and marketing meetings.  

And those addressing audiences and students in conference rooms and classrooms. 

What I liked was the hype about their growth and how immediately I saw the advantages of their projectors over the old school overhead classroom projector with the film slides you dropped or mishandled or …

They created presentations in their computers.  

Proxima sold a projector for each of those settings that connected to your computer for the first time.

You created a powerpoint in your computer and projected it on to a screen in front of a group of people.


Proxima didn’t start out in the multimedia projector business.  

Proxima had been an electrical and electronics supplier at its inception.  Eventually they evolved into selling all the accessories you’d need for PCs — you know the cords, connectors, power packs and eventually projectors — all before my time. 

Early employees loved their flip-flop, cargo shorts and Hawaiian shirt wearing founder.  

2nd CEO

Their CEO focused on policies and procedures more than taking care of business as the “outside” voice to the marketplace.

But, they continued with the new leader who wanted to provide more structure and loved writing policies.

Long Time Employees Loosing Out

Most of the employees from day one believed they would always be in line for promotions. They wore so many hats in the beginning, surely they figured, when they hung up most of those caps in the closet they’d be entitled to freely move up the organizational chart and place their remaining hat on their office’s rack while claiming a position yet to be formulated.  

Instead, those positions at the top level went to people like me who had larger company experience, than they did. Nothing wrong with them,  but they had yet to experience by trial and error what would be required when the pace accelerated and risks grew exponentially.


To answer your question, yes you can find happiness in one of the Organization Types and  in a growth stage — even if it’s not your type! 

How can that be true?  

Hint, it has something to do with unique challenges at each stage of growth and decline which challenge the key success factors that, well, bred success. 

And, therefore a different set of talents and abilities are required to navigate the transformation from the old to the new.

    • We’ve known for some time now that there’s this kind of yin-yang cycle working itself through organizational developmental stages. 
    • In the first stage the yin expresses itself as a loosening, organic, seeing what will work as the start up iterates its way into existence.  
    • Then too much of a good thing ushers in a tightening to regain control over what is working and what hasn’t worked and needs not to be repeated.  
    • And then having tightened up operations  to restrict control over resources far too much demands the cycle reverses  itself into a newer loosening phase.  

And, so on and so on through maturity, decline and reinvention. But remember, these transformations — think of them as a metamorphosis in the natural world when a caterpillar spins a cocoon, develops, and then emerges as a butterfly — a completely different insect.  

The point is loosening in the start up phase and loosening in the rapid growth stages require similar activities, the two stages are not the same animal or insect as they used to be or will become.

Stages of Growth

Start Up: Loosen — Crisis — Tighten

Emerging Growth: Tighten — Crisis — Loosen

In many cases a strong manager is needed who has the necessary knowledge and skill to introduce new business techniques to help them bridge the widening gulf between start-up and early growth stage.

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

Often it’s up to 107 Resilient Product Teams to develop “the formula” by reducing the amount of random experimentation while accelerating new business by learning from early customers.  They streamline the rapid product development process and convert emerging knowledge into repeatable processes.

Emerging-Entrepreneurs in a 108 Core Business Group expand the number of products and variations available often preceding the need to break the organization into functional specialties.  They manage through the variable demand, but focus on building the capacity for higher growth with efficient ramp-ups for initial products.

Where to Find Best Fit Cultures

Talent Profile Growth Stage Organization Type
101 Breakpoint Inventors Start Up Paradoxy-Morons
103 Commercial Innovators Start Up Paradoxy-Morons
105 Marketing Athletes Start Up Emerging-Entrepreneurs
107 Resilient Product Teams Emerging Growth Emerging-Entrepreneurs
108 Core Business Group Emerging Growth Emerging-Entrepreneurs

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

Founders hate to step aside during this turning point, even though they don’t have the temperament to be managers.

If they don’t, they prolong the inevitable. But, as we see in the next stage the directive management style plants the seeds for a new crisis at the end of the early growth stage.

Part Two: Evolution from Emerging Growth to Rapid Growth


“4”  Steve Zahn, 51: Social status is one of those things you don’t really feel like you care too much about until you’re in a position to gain or lose it and become surprised by your behavior. You are, after all, only human.”  Scorpio

Aren’t we all?

Random ones that make me want change my sign. 

“4”  Steve Howey, 42: “Even if you feel you have no news to share, make an effort to connect with friends and family. You’ll be surprised what fortuitous information comes up when there’s no particular agenda to the conversation.”  Cancer

I guess when all around you feel trapped by this pandemic, news and information bubbles up naturally in conversations, eh?

“3”  Steve Carrell, 57; Steve Martin, 74; Steve Wozniak, 69: What you desire will not come about through direct means. There is no pushing, buying or persuasion involved, only attraction. The most attractive mode is modesty and moderation.” Leo

In my own natural experiment gathering intelligence about what might work for me in this manner won over enough people in my 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon method who volunteered to refer me to other like-minded people and introduce me to enough decision-makers that opportunities appeared beyond my wildest dreams.

“3”  Steve Kerr, 54:The wise choices are easier to make when you know what you care about. When you don’t know yet, don’t worry about being wise. Anything you choose will teach you more about what you care about.” Libra

Not so much as evidence for today, but more for the years I’ve put into the theory and the field testing in my own life and with clients and students I’ve advised, I find this relevant.

“5”  Steve Aoki, 41:Today’s problem isn’t so tough. Ask a few people, do a thorough internet search, read an article or two and you’ll know enough to make an informed decision.” Sagittarius

An informed decision about what positions you best in your career with a type of organization or a gnarly problem to solve in the next stage of organization growth, decline or reinvention is that this original research has always been about.

“4”  Steve Jobs, (1955 – 2011): It will be important to check off all of the daily habits you hold so dear today because it is only after these rituals are complete that you feel you have the space to share freely.” Pisces

As I work my way through this manuscript, Volume Two — Workfit, I fess up that if it weren’t for my daily habits which became rituals it would be awfully hard not to work 24/7 plowing through this content that I know it’s time to shut my office door and walk into my life.

Holiday Forecast for the Week Ahead: 

Some believe that love is an entity that is either present or not, that it must be found, not created, that shows up with its own characteristics and cannot be changed or manipulated. 

Then there’s the school of thought that depicts love as an emotion no different from other psychological states such as fear or satisfaction. In this model, with the right elements, the feeling can be conjured up, led around, intensified and molded …. the role of the subconscious in relationships. 

Below the thinking of which we are aware, there is a vast neural network buzzing with the activity of keeping us alive. This hardworking mind takes in all the sensory and cognitive information of living and processes it at lightning speed, organizing those cues so that only the most relevant information comes into consciousness. 

As for our attractions, by the time we realize them, they have already been vetted by the subconscious against hundreds of criteria, some superficial, some ancient and animal. An awful lot of psychological gauges are involved, too, having to do with our family of origin and how much the other person feels familiar and has similar strengths and weaknesses to that of our parents.

I’m afraid the TauBits of Wisdom offered by the Steves today pale in comparison with what lies ahead for us.  I love this on so many levels, don’t you?

What’s Going On

Literally Bottled and Set Adrift from KnowWhere Atoll 

    • @knowlabs followers of one or more of my 35 digital magazines organically grew from 4516 to 4636.




    • Saw the movie, didn’t realize that one of my favorite authors, Michael Connelly — his detective Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch book series and Amazon Prime series — also wrote, “The Lincoln Lawyer” which I just finished. Gotta tell you I can’t not see his lead character (Mickey Haller, Bosch’s half brother) as anyone else but Matthew McConaughey. 

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Inspired by: Holiday Mathis – Creators Syndicate


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