One of the worst things you can do as an entrepreneur (or celebrity, or politician, or, ahem, combination of all the above) is to surround yourself with Yes People: those who have an interest in hiding reality from you for their own benefit.
Yes People think all your ideas are great. They'll implement those ideas regardless of whether they are viable. They don't have healthy boundaries. They perform just enough to stay under the radar without ever striving to become extraordinary.
Yes People tell you what you want to hear because they want something from you. They want your money, connections, esteem, or the secondhand benefits of your success. So their focus is not being effective, it's staying in your good graces, no matter what.
What long-term effect do you think that has on your business?
You can tell a Yes Person by their energy. When you ask them for input, their vocal register gets higher and they nod a little too quickly and their energy level raises a notch higher than necessary, as if to convince themselves your idea is good while they're also convincing you. They may as well be talking to a five-year-old.
In business, and in life, surrounding yourself with Yes People is one of the most blinding obstacles to making your vision a reality.
If you don't know what you're doing wrong, how can you possibly fix it?
If you're in business to be successful, to maximize your impact, to beat the competition, or to become your best self, it's crucial to recruit Advisors: those who will tell you what you need to hear, even when it's uncomfortable.
Then you can put Yes People where they perform best: lower-level positions where creativity, leadership, and innovation are not quite so important. Yes People are helpful... and more easily replaceable.
When it comes to roles that require real insight and guidance, you don't want Yes People, you want Advisors.
In my book Game Plan, I explain the importance of determining your personal and professional Advisors: those who believe in YOU but can separate you from YOUR IDEAS and YOUR BUSINESS.
The qualities you need in an Advisor are insight, wisdom, critical thinking, experience, clarity, simplicity, understanding of the market, and a proactive approach - and not unbridled enthusiasm in reaction to your every thought or whim.
My most successful clients - those whose goals are growth, fulfillment, and longevity - have excellent, knowledgeable, enthusiastic staff to maintain their business on a daily basis. After our initial engagement where we collaboratively identify goals and strategy, their managers take over to execute our plan of action. They invite me back into their business for perspective when it's time to move to the next level: launch a new product, expand to a new market, or train a new team member. It's a smart investment for small businesses and organizations that need vision and guidance but don't need a long-term commitment to an executive-level marketer.
Aside from the consultants you hire to solve specific business challenges, your ongoing Advisors can be your business mentors, networking group, or even a formal organizational board.
Yes, it's possible to get insight from a friend - that is, if they have wisdom, experience, and perspective in the area where you need help. The problem with relying on family and friends for business input is that they rarely have the necessary business experience to give you accurate feedback.
Be selective about your Advisors and proactive about filtering out information that's not actually going to serve your goals. Advisors are not always limited to the people you actively ask for advice. They can be anyone you allow through your mental filter and thus allow to influence your actions, beliefs, and perspectives.
Make sure the person who's weighing in actually has good and accurate information on the topic. If your friend has been in the same midlevel management role for 10 years, she's not the person to ask about entrepreneurship. Your entry-level manager is not the person to consult on social media strategy. And your spouse is probably not unbiased about where you should open your next location.
For each goal or area of business, determine your Advisors: who has the insight, experience, and results to tell you what you really need to hear?