Connect with Adam Nathan: https://www.linkedin.com/in/adambnathan/
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How can strategic communication strengthen relationships between two different organizations?
Read on to find out how Adam did it based on his personal experience.
Adam Nathan is the Director of Solutions Engineering at CoEnterprise, an IT consultancy, specializing in data warehouses to help people see and understand their data.
CoEnterprise helps their clients translate their business problems into solutions, and make sure they understand it. Adam and his team help the sales people orchestrate these solutions into a deal and then hand the deal off to the services group that does the work of delivering it.
Adam straddles the line between balancing the needs of the sales organization and the needs of the services organization to make sure that they're setting themselves up for success.
How does Adam straddle the line between balancing the needs of the sales organization and services organization to see both things from different perspectives?
These organizations are always competing. If you are in a similar situation where you're maybe on one side or the other, have empathy for the other side and try to see both things from different perspectives, communication is the key.
Both sides are hard. Selling is hard and so is delivering. They all involve relationships with the customer that everybody's trying to protect. So, communicate, empathize. Sometimes it's saying "I'm sorry, I didn't get that right" and acknowledging where you weren't right.
Communication is at the center of everything that people do and the success of most leaders in the grand scheme of the professional world.
What leadership lessons did 19-year-old Adam learn on the set of Michael Jackson's video?
Adam was an actor at that time and had the opportunity to be part of Michael Jackson's music video of Bad, directed by Martin Scorsese.
The leadership lesson he learned on the set was from Scorsese. Scorsese knew how to work with him. Scorsese did a very unusual thing, different from the previous directors Adam had worked with. Between takes, Scorsese would ask for his opinion on what he thought about the scene and if there's anything he would want to change about it.
Adam wasn't expecting this. He was expecting to be told what to deliver and what happened instead was Scorsese engaged him as a creative partner in the scene. This was the leadership lesson Adam learned.
A couple of years ago, when Adam first started working with his team, he told this story and said, "That is who I want to be as a leader". A leader who trusts and engages people. A leader who hears different ideas, hears different perspectives, takes it internally, and then makes a different decision based on something that somebody else came up with.
Adam got another defining leadership moment within a software project where he took away a whole different perspective in a matter of a couple of seconds.
It happened when he signed himself up with a major company to deliver a critical piece of software that would roll out to every state. They spent months doing this, and the night before it was due, at around 2 am, he realized that this would never work because there was a surprise bug that had come up.
He thought about all kinds of things that might happen the next day and the days afterward if he failed with this project, and it was painful for him to even think that he'll be the loser jon the team because of this failure.
Then, there was this precious moment where for five seconds, he let go of all his worries.
And he thought it's okay if it fails. He didn't care.
It was a defining moment of freedom for him and at about second six, the reality came rushing back and he was right where he was, but he had a mental shift where he could let go on something like that. The world was still going to keep going.
The following morning, they were able to fix the problem and the software was rolled out successfully.
How did learning to anticipate the black moment of death for every project change Adam's perspective?
In every big project, there's a black moment of death right at the end. You never know when they're coming and it will always feel like you're not going to have them because there's a project plan, you're on a schedule and on tracking.
When you're in these moments, it doesn't mean the project you're working on is over. It may look like it but it isn't. It just means you have to navigate it for a bit. No matter the experience, no matter how extreme the public failure might be, and potential career humiliation, it's okay and you can navigate this.
One of the things that have helped Adam in his career was his willingness to get in the ring. Sometimes, despite how much you can say that the black moments of death will come, it's not until you really experience it for yourself. You have to get in the ring first and be willing to get dirty and go through those hard knocks to learn what it's like to be able to navigate them in a more effective and confident way for yourself and for other people.
There was this quote he loved that says "If you're not embarrassed of the first release of your software, you waited too long". It's not just true for software. It's true for everything. Adam recently started a vlog and after checking his version 1, he was like "What have I done?". His version 1 wasn't as good as his version 7. The version 7 is getting better and he's in the ring.
What got Adam through the fear of initial inexperience?
His commitment to doing it. The fear was real but he knew it was something he could get better at. He wasn't happy with version 1 but when it was released, he just went for a long walk, and got a coffee.
Don't be afraid to get in the ring. You're going to fail. You're going to go through the black moment of death. You're going to be criticized or humiliated at some point but if the person doing that is not in the ring, it doesn't matter. The people that don't get in the ring, don't get the benefit of your time and attention.
If they're in the ring, then you can learn something from them just like how Scorsese did on the set with Michael Jackson.
What advice would Adam share with others thinking about their own leadership journey?
One of the things Adam had learned was every successful business has two discrete individuals. One of the individuals is the visionary archetype, and the other is the integrator.
The visionary is the idea generator, the enthusiastic person, and the evangelizer but is not the best person to be running a day-to-day operation. The other is the integrator who may not have the ideas but this person can make things happen. The integrator can deliver on those visionary ideas and know whether your leadership is visionary or integrator.
Recognize if you're on the visionary side, or if you're on an integrator side. Have an understanding of what you're naturally talented to do and then fill the void of the things that you're not necessarily talented to do with other people.
No one person can perfectly do all these things and that's okay.
What advice would Adam give his younger self?
Adam would tell his younger self that you got this and if you don't, it's okay. However this ends up, you're doing it well.