Build a great teamTo build an empire takes more than one person.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a solo entrepreneur, a solo blogger, a solo musician or artist.

To truly build an empire takes more than the soloist you may be – it takes a team.

From a solo point of view, that can mean a variety of things.

For solo entrepreneurs, it’s your partner that encourages you when no-one else will. Or the bank manage who approves your loan when you first start. Or the contractor who gives you the part-time skills for that job you couldn’t do otherwise.

For solo bloggers, it’s your readers who give you strength to keep writing when you want to give up. Or commenters that validate your thoughts. Or the social community who share your blog with new eyes.

For the musician or artist, it’s the fans who buy your work when everyone else says it’s worthless. It’s the manager or agent who never gives up on you. It’s the supplier that provides your tools of the trade to make the magic happen.

For the business owner or leader that has employees, your team is easier to define – as is the fact that, just like the soloist, your team is everything. Without them, you have nothing.

Recognize that. Nurture them. Encourage them. Give them permission to err and give them the stepping stones to the right path the next time. But most of all, make sure they feel appreciated.

We can do a lot on our own – but with our teams beside us we can conquer the world.

Want success? Make it about the team. Always.

image: Carol VanHook

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Blog consulting with Danny Brown

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  1. rdopping says

    Amen brother! You are talking my language. I getto experieince it form both sides. My “day job” is managing a national team delivering services to a big bank. Sounds dull but quite engaging and my “other job” is my love for blogging. As a solo blogger you are bang on. You aren’t really so solo, are you? Thanks for the alignment. I never really thought about the synergies between the two.

    Great post. Huh. Got me thinking……

  2. rdopping says

    Amen brother! You are talking my language. Like a lot of people I get to experience it from both sides. My “day job” is managing a national team delivering services to a big bank. Sounds dull but quite engaging and my “other job” is my love for blogging. As a solo blogger you are bang on. You aren’t really so solo, are you? Thanks for the alignment. I never really thought about the synergies between the two. Great post. Huh. Got me thinking……

    • says

       @rdopping You know, mate, some of the most “exciting” companies I’ve ever worked at have been boring as hell – a lot of the times it comes down to the people that make up the mix, and sounds like you guys have a great one. :)
      Glad the post resonated, sir!

  3. says

    I cannot agree with you more, Danny, especially the tip about commenters and community pushing and nudging you to write, post and be true. Many a time I wanted to throw in the towel but for someone who was jazzed about something I said…fancy that.
    Thanks, in your very own house, for yesterday. You were a consummate guest, so gracious and generous. I thank you.

    • says

       @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing There will always be critics, miss – the trick is in seeing which ones have a valid point and meeting them to discuss. The others? They can go watch some $47 webinar… 😉

  4. yvettepistorio says

    Great post Danny! “We can do a lot on our own – but with our teams beside us we can conquer the world.”  Completey agree!

  5. says

    I’ve worked with numerous start ups, and it is amazing how one person on the team that isn’t into it can suck the life out of the whole project. It is important to nurture your team members, but make sure that they want to be on the project in the first place!

    • says

       @EndlessRange 100% agree, mate – we let go a few people that were clearly not right, and you could tell. You need to make sure the team harmony is great at all times, and support when they’re down too.

  6. Leander Jackie Grogan says

    Hello Danny
    Enjoyed your article as always.  Very timely insight. Ironically, I just talked about this in an article this week. When you mentioned “appreciation”, some owners don’t see a need or don’t know how to appreciate their  team members. They feel  employees should be grateful just to get a (small) salary in these hard times.
    Here’s an excerpt:
    “The final reason why team members don’t take ownership  is the owner/entrepreneur’s refusal to reward.
    Perhaps, you’ve worked for this kind of owner.  He or she is totally self-centered and doesn’t see a need to share the wealth. They drive into the parking lot in their BMW one day, their Navigator the next, and on their MTT Turbine Superbike motorcycle the next. Then, at the weekly meeting, while punching numbers into their brand new $900 Wi-Fi-enabled, 64GB iPad , they explain why salaries will have to be cut and people will have to be laid off.
    In 1978, CEOs at the helm of major corporations earned 35 times as much as the average worker. In 2009, that gap had grown to 300 times as much. According to economist Edward N. Wolff at New York University, the wealthiest 10% of Americans earned 50% of all income, twelve times as much as the bottom 10%.  The top 10% owned 80% of all stocks, bonds, trust funds, and business equity, and over 75% of non-home real estate.
    Team members, especially those from Generation X, know the score. They’re not interested in making you rich with no indication you plan to take them along for the ride. Google, General Electric, FedEx and others reward, heavily, those who make the company successful.  A simple salary is just not enough. You have to figure out a way to reward initiative and buy-in and ownership.  Otherwise, it’s “YOUR” business. Stop complaining when team members treat it as such.”
    Hope you get a chance to read the complete article.
    Leander Jackie Grogan

    • says

       @Leander Jackie Grogan Damn, mate, but that is one awesome addition to the gist of the post – please, feel free to jump back over with the URL to the full post so others can enjoy it too, sir!

      • Leander Jackie Grogan says

        Here’s the link:
        I didn’t leave it the first time because I didn’t want it seem I’m trying to pull guests from your great party and bring them to mine. Still kinda fuzzy on the protocol. But thanks for asking to see it. I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

  7. says

    Be sure to expand your view of “team.”  When I was a solo freelance copywriter/content consultant, the most important member of my team was my wife.  She is about feeling secure, so it was very important that I kept her in the loop on how the “business finances” were holding up.
    At the same time, she was my number one cheerleader, and though she works in healthcare, she had some great advice and input over the years.
    The team can include people who aren’t employees – mentors, customers, friends, spouses.

    • says

       @ClayMorgan For sure, mate, it’s easy to overlook those closest to you as they’re not in the “space” where your team is.
      Perfect example – my son. He just makes me laugh loud at some of the crazy shit he does – great stress reliever, and can’t wait until his sister is old enough to join in the fun. :)

  8. says

    Hi Danny
    “It’s Always About the Team – Always”
    Powerful, simple and to the point.
    Love the message and love the way you knocked out that short punchy post to get it across.
    A great message and a post writing lesson to us all.

  9. says

    Hi Danny,
    Some years ago I worked for a small start up that for a time was very successful and then management forgot about  how they built the foundation for that success.
    I remember it well because in the beginning they would hand out paychecks and say thank you. I found it shocking, but in a good way. It built tremendous loyalty. And then things got tough and they started blaming us for all that went wrong.
    It didn’t take long for them to destroy what they built because they forgot that they didn’t climb to the top alone.

    • says

       @TheJackB I worked at a place like that…bigger business but same. First few years they road the semiconductor boom in 95-2000 and everything was great. Then when the industry crashed the culture changed. The owner retired brought in a jerk from out of state to run it and it went from employees as assets to employees as a cost of doing business. But when it was good they had fierce loyalty and people worked their asses off.
      I also learned employee owned was a great business model for upper management and crappy for everyone else which is quite ironic.

    • says

       @TheJackB It’s sad to see how many businesses forget their roots, mate. I think that’s why Facebook and Google are enjoying different public perceptions of them at the minute.
      I read this month’s Fast Company piece on FB, and Zuckerberg has instilled a culture of “the hacker code”, where everyone can tear apart things to see if they can work better. Compare that to Google, where the lauded “20% time to work on your own stuff” has all but disappeared.
      Take the time to remember your roots, keep your culture intact, and try be the company that everyone wants to be like and work for.
      Cheers, sir!

      • says

         @DannyBrown I wonder how much of that is because of the pressure that comes with going public. Could be just coincidence.
        There is a lot to be said for feeling comfortable enough to make suggestions on how to improve things.

        • says

           @TheJackB Oh, I’m sure it’s a big part mate – investors can have a way of wanting their ideas embedded into a product.
          I think that’s where companies that eschew the IPO route come off best. Private sale or investment keeps the control (usually) with the founder(s) and that can make a big difference.

        • rdopping says

          Comfort (i.e. confidence) only comes when the greed of the ownership doesn’t outweigh the sum of its parts. The trouble is that everyone wants too much and no one is ever satisfied.

  10. says

    Powerful stuff, as always DB. You know, after 3 years of doing this blogging thing and answering a couple of comments along the way, I can without question say I’ve tried my very best to express appreciation to readers and thank them. And the fact that someone actually enjoys my work enough to read it, or share it, will never grow old to me….and if it did…I sure hope I’ll walk away and know it was time.
    Thanks bud,

    • says

       @Marcus_Sheridan Hey thee mate,
      Three years, eh? Congrats – it’s funny how time flies when you’re having fun!
      Like you say, once it grows old, you’ve lost that magic that made you and your blog what it is. If that happens, get out and don’t cheat your readers by just mailing content in – no-one benefits with that.
      Cheers, sir, and enjoy Knoxville!

  11. Leon says

    G’Day Danny, 
    Absobloodlylutely correct!  I keep saying It: the basic human unit in the workplace is the team not the individual. I first espoused this point of view in my 1984 book, “The Social Manager; Let’s Stop Playing at Management Training.”
    A lot of gurus and academics find this hard to accept.  They’re tied to all their self development, “anyone can achjeve anything” approach. It just ain’t so as Mark Twain would’ve said. As I shamelessly suggested in that book, management development is a vast industry. Can’t have smartass Aussies-I was too young to be a curmudgeon then- preaching heresy and threatening our comfortable livelihoods.
    As you’re probably aware, I’m a great admirer of the work of Ricardo Semler of Semco. But he challenges just about every conventional management wisdom. And his company enjoys great commercial success. He’s taken team development and employee participation to a new plane. And he has little time for MBAs.
    The other thing I notice – and I mean no disrespect when I say this- is that arguing about concepts of “leadership” versus “management” seems to be almost a national sport in the halls of academe, consulting and HR in North America.
    Of course, if I’m even half right, lots of very prominent gurus would be very red-faced….and a tad poorer too.
    As I’ve said before Danny, we Celts must take the lead and stick together. Maybe a bit uncomfortable.But It’ll keep those bloody Sassenachs on their toes.
    Best Wishes 

    • says

       @Leon Awesome comment as always, sir, and bang on.
      I can never get over all the political in-fighting and managers that want to be seen as the golden child in the eyes of the CEO. Who cares if you want to brown nose? Make the company successful by using every team member appropriately, and your own stock will rise.
      I don’t know about others, but i’d be far more likely to remember the guy that was associated with a successful business when hiring for my own, as opposed to the asskisser who oversaw the closure of the company.
      Hey ho.

  12. rdopping says

    Danny, the discourse on this subject is awesome. There is a lot of passion here and I keep coming back because the subject so neatly into my niche. Hey, I never do this but here’s a piece that ties into the subject very nicely and hopefully inspires further chatter.

    Sorry, a tad shameless but I wouldn’t do it if it didn’t relate. Cheers!

    • says

       @rdopping Hey there mate,
      For sure – i’m very fortunate to have so many smart folks share their knowledge and insights here, that’s what takes a simple post somewhere better. :)
      Look forward to reading the link, and never feel afraid to share – I’ll soon set the hounds on you if go all Techcrunch on me, hehe. 😉

  13. says

    Insightful stuff Danny – it’s my first time on your blog and I’ll be back.

    I spent most of my career in the UK working for 2 large corporates, Boots and Barclays, both like massive cruise ships. Now I’m white water rafting as an entrepreneur. The best teams I worked in…

    …had a boss who took responsibility – too many played politics and were quick to pass the buck
    …had clear goals
    …had a “slightly unreasonable boss” who got more by demanding more
    …had team members who inspired you
    …openly shared knowledge and resources
    …celebrated and recognised individual and team achievements
    …worked hard and knew when to switch off and share a few “sherries”

    The sad thing is it’s so rare to find all of the above. Great leaders and teams are rare, if you find them savour the ride and think carefully before moving on.

    Entrepreneurs and bloggers are sooo busy, but as Danny says you’ve got to make time to find your “team” to stretch, inspire and reassure you. Try and find a couple of mentors too.

    • says

       @Steven Hourston Hey there Steven,
      First, great to have you here, sir, and look forward to more conversations!
      I’m originally from the UK, and Boots was always one of my favourite stores to go to at Christmas, they always made a great effort and, of course, it was the perfect place to pick up gifts for your mum and girlfriend! 😉
      It’s sad but true – we go to all these amazing induction courses and team-building weekends, and we’re shown how valuable every team player is. Then we get back to the work environment and that disappears in a heartbeat, as money and “fame” come into the bargain.
      And yet… if we concentrated on the success of the overall team and company, the money and fame would follow naturally. Funny how that works, eh? 😉

  14. says

    I joke about being a recovering corporate employee before I opened up my own shop but I will admit that some of those ‘team programs’ our company attempted to do for us, have stuck with me. I learned early on that I don’t know the answers to everything nor am I the best at everything. But when I pull together a team of people who can fill in the blanks of the spaces that I’m missing, we do more for our clients, create a better program for our clients and at the end of the day, we’re left with happier clients. And isn’t that one of the main elements that brings you/your company success?
    As a side note and part 2 to my comment here – I know you’re aware of our Bourdain campaign (the post you RT). That whole program could not have come close to happening until I pulled together a great team. Now our pitch has been sent to the travel show and I know that without all those folks on my team, it never would have gotten to this point.

    • says

       @penneyfox Hey there miss,
      I can never recall who said it, but I’ll never forgot the phrase “Surround yourself by people smarter than you if you really want to succeed.”
      So true, and ties perfectly into your point – none of us are superheroes that can save the world on our own. So why pretend we are?
      Cheers, miss!

  15. says

    I think that the “only” way to be successful in business is when both the leader and the team recognize each other without thrying to take advantage of the other part. Leaders need teams and teams need leaders, when they both accept this fact and no one tries to exploit the other really there are no limits. Also everything works when teams take care of their leaders and leaders take care of their teams, possibly at the same time. Great post Danny. 😉

    • says

       @Andrea H. | The Hypnotism Weekly Amen to that, Andrea – while our leaders need to truly lead, those that prefer to be led need to work towards the common goal. 

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  17. says

    Great blog, and haven’t we always been taught  that  there is no I in Team.. we should remember that old saying! @JimCarrVLI would  like this blog too!