Scrappy is such a good word. It’s not pushy. It’s not aggressive. It’s the East Side Kids crackin’ wise, beating the odds and winning in the end.
Well, that’s the image that comes to mind. And for you folks who grew up when TV only came in color, these were adorable ruffians in the Depression-era Lower East Side depicted in a series of movies. They weren’t the East Side Gang that might or might not have killed Tupac Shukar. These were the Bowery Boys.
Anyway, they were a tightly bonded group that invariably got into some kind of trouble – besieged by villains and harassed by authorities. But they embodied scrappiness in their methods and attitude.
This is the attitude that Terri Sjodin thinks everybody needs these days. And, of course, she’s right. We’re all whiners, right? At least in our head.
InsuranceNewsNet Publisher Paul Feldman spoke with Sjodin for our featured interview in the December magazine. She tells us how leaders can build scrappy teams that are motivated to overcome challenges. Doesn’t that sound a whole lot more fun and productive than the usual back-biting and undermining that often passes for collaboration?
These are three steps that she laid out to get ready for a scrappy new year:
1. Choose to get scrappy.
It all starts with attitude. Having a scrappy attitude is characterized by your mindset and speaks to your fighting spirit. It’s about the “fire in your belly” and a determined nature that can’t really be quantified. When you foster a scrappy attitude, you’re far more likely to commit to making a scrappy play, and when you do, it changes your perspective. In fact, simply “deciding to go” changes the game, helping you cultivate new pathways and options to explore. You are not going to get scrappy every day, but certain situations call for a scrappy effort. It can be a great go to play when you’re facing some kind of obstacle. This is the point where you harness all of your inspiration and commit to crafting a truly effective strategy.
2. Craft a truly clever strategy.
Of course everyone wants to come up with that spot-on gesture that’s just the right mix of funny, daring and inspiring that helps you get in the door and make something happen. But how do you get there? You can’t just wing it — you have to have a strategy.
A scrappy strategy encompasses all of your efforts: research, due diligence, and sweat equity. It’s the tactical planning necessary to achieve a specific goal. Whatever the goal, it’s crucial to customize your strategy to meet the needs of the recipient and separate yourself from the competition. (Most people will not make this kind of effort and that’s your scrappy advantage.)
Remember, the idea is to move your intention forward while also dazzling the key decision maker. The more you know about the person, the easier it will be to tailor your strategy for maximum effect. So do some homework and ask these key questions:
- What do I know about this individual or the people on this committee?
- What might be a classy way to approach this person or group?
- Have I ever met this person or is he or she a complete stranger? If they’re a stranger, who do I know who might be able to introduce me or at least give me additional information about them?
Gather your intel, personal and professional—just don’t go too far. Stalking is creepy, and the goal is to truly and authentically connect with another individual to earn the right to be heard.
After conducting your research, it’s time to think about the timing of your scrappy effort. Where do you see it being most helpful—at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of the process?
Timing will be a driving force while crafting your strategy. Different scenarios call for different strategies, so remember to stay nimble and open to modifications as circumstances change.
3. Execute – put your tush (a little) on the line.
Scrappy execution is about putting your plan of action into play. It’s the “go” phase, the transition from planning into actual engagement and moving forward on a course of action you have developed. This is where the risk comes in, but so does the reward. This part of your scrappy effort includes considering your risk tolerance, thinking through your plan, going forward, and leaving a little room for serendipity.
If you want your circumstances to change, at some point you have to stop strategizing and launch. At this point, you will transition from planning to execution and put your tush on the line to reap big rewards, whether the strategy you have crafted is simple or elaborate. My advice is to start small with a simple play and then build up from there. As Amelia Earhart said, “The most effective way to do it… is to do it!”
This is just a simple introduction to gaining a scrappy advantage. To be scrappy is about making things happen, getting in the game and going for it. Use your imagination. What if your plan actually works? Imagine that.
Steven A. Morelli is editor-in-chief for InsuranceNewsNet. He has more than 25 years of experience as a reporter and editor for newspapers, magazines and insurance periodicals. He was also vice president of communications for an insurance agents’ association. Steve can be reached at [email protected]
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