How to Build a Team That Aspires for Greatness by Jenna Abdou


When Adam Liebman plays basketball, all he does is shoot three-pointers. 

“I’ll pretty much shoot three-pointers from anywhere on the court. Once we cross half court, I’m in my range. I’m never afraid to pull the trigger,” he said,  reflecting on his fantasy game with Lebron James. 

While most of us wouldn't dare shoot a half court shot against the self-proclaimed “best player in the world,” Adam approaches life differently; Believing he is at cause, not effect to his circumstances. 

             

We are the people who get to decide exactly what happens to us. It’s up to you to decide ‘I’m going to be happy.’

“You can manipulate the way your brain works and processes external stimuli,” Adam declared, reflecting on Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage. 

Shawn’s work changed Adam’s life. He’s since dedicated himself to infusing the mentality into the culture he helped develop at SinglePlatform, and the one he’s cultivating at his startup Squad

Squad is the most effective way for groups of friends to connect. You simply create your squad on the app and connect with new groups you’d like to meet. 

While the premise sounds simple, connecting individuals platonically is a daunting task many have tried and failed to achieve.

Whether now or in the future, “technology is going to be the way to connect us,”Adam shared.

“I feel really confident about our team’s ability to iterate through ideas and figure out whether or not they are the right way to use technology to connect people.”

His confidence stems from hiring individuals who default to this type of thinking and creating an environment where they can thrive. 

“When you operate at the intersection of hard work, mental investment, and a positive mental attitude, that’s where the perfect harmony of the team comes together,” he explained. 

Adam’s adamant about empowering his team members to take complete ownership of their roles. 

“You can’t motivate people. You can only create an environment where a motivated person can succeed,” he shared, reflecting on his distaste for micromanaging. 

Martin Luther King Jr. said ‘I have a dream,’ not ‘I have a plan.’

This isn’t to say that leaders shouldn't commit themselves to their team members. Adam works closely with each new hire to map out a plan where he or she can experience small achievements early in their career. He describes it as seeing a lot of “bright lights in short tunnels.” 

The intimate relationships empower a team of initiators, and Adam’s mantra is: “Confidence is king. Enthusiasm is queen.” 

“Together, they are an absolute power couple,” he describes. 

Leading by example, he wakes up asking: “How quickly can we prove or disprove our hypothesis today?"

“And if it's wrong, what are the next 25 hypotheses that we want to test?” 

The experimentation mentality is new for Adam. In his previous role as SinglePlatform’s Executive Vice President of Sales he was confident about the direction he would take his team and how to get there. 

“I have never been wrong so much…I’m wrong all the time, and that’s okay. I’m a huge fan of making mistakes…As long as you don’t make the same mistakes twice.” 

The perseverance to fail fast, and often, is a distinguishing characteristic of successful leaders. 

In Adam’s words, “it separates the best from the very good.”

“Everyone can start something, but it takes a lot of effort to finish it.” 

“It’s easy to have an idea. What it comes down to is the execution. Only the best are able to push through. Most people quit in the middle.”

“That's where success comes from, in the most traditional sense.”

The pain is what separates people.

To gain deeper insight into Adam’s experiences launching Squad and how the team's executing on their big vision tune into his Beyond the Headline podcast and follow him on Twitter. 

You can also download the Squad app here




Further Reading
  • How MeUndies Made Merchandising Their Competitive Advantage — When MeUndies thinks about their underwear subscription service they compare themselves to Netflix. What the streaming pioneer did for TV, the Los Angeles startup wants to do to your underwear drawer. The goal is to provide monthly subscribers with the staples they love while delivering elements of surprise - Think briefs with donuts and dinosaurs - right to your doorstep.
  • Seedling Relies on Childhood Curiosity to Inspire a Creative Team — On a recent flight home, I spent over an hour browsing a children’s play website, completely enamored by sets like Design Your Own Superhero Cape and Invent Your Own Insects. After sharing Seedling with everyone I know, despite few of my friends having children, I wondered why the brand struck a such a meaningful chord with me.
  • eero Designs Wi-Fi for the Smart Home Era — Nikhil Basu Trivedi, Principal at Shasta Ventures, recently distinguished exceptional founders by their ability to prioritize. “It all comes back to prioritization, speed, paranoia, and knowing that if you don’t iterate, even after finding product market fit, you can be disrupted by the next product,” he says.


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