Spartan has come a long way. It took a lot of hard work, luck, and tons of invaluable help. I could never have done it without my team.
When I hire I look for someone who’s an ambitious person with an insatiable work ethic. They also need to be enthusiastic. Enthusiasm breeds passion, and when you’re passionate you don’t just do 9-5 work.
Let me tell you a story: A few years ago, one of my employees, Brian, proposed that we hold Spartan races in iconic stadiums (a concept that evolved into the Spartan Stadion Series). Now, believe it or not, I’m not a sports guy by any means. I don’t watch any major sports, but I do have a strong passion for wrestling and rugby.
I honestly thought it was a terrible idea at first. Why would anyone want to do a race inside of a stadium? People go to sporting events to drink beer and eat hot dogs, don’t they?
Instead of fighting Brian and destroying the idea, I let the team run with it. Why not? If it works, awesome — that’s a whole new series for us. If it fails, at least we tried to innovate. It’s not about being right or wrong in this case. Our ego cares about being right, but a good leader knows when to ignore ego.
More importantly, when you shut down employees’ ideas you set a precedent that they’re not welcome. A successful company is built on the innovations and ideas of the staff. You want everyone on board to be an entrepreneur for you. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying you should say yes to everyone. (Far from it.) That’s a path to nowhere. But be open and listen. If it’s a sound idea and not too costly, let your employees run with it. The team will appreciate what you did and it encourages more ideas, which means more growth.