Moving Weaknesses into the Strengths Column

A few months ago, I started working with a coach, which is something I probably should have done a long time ago. We recommend it broadly for CEOs/leaders in our portfolio for a reason.

Last week, we were talking about my strengths and weaknesses, and Alisa suggested something simple, yet profound, which was: looking for ways to move things that I know to be weaknesses into the strengths column, by changing how I approach them.

In my case, I tend to be stronger at collaborative work, and somewhat weaker at solo work (this is a generalization but a decent enough one for these purposes). Said differently: I really give and gain a lot of energy when working collaboratively / live on things with others, and have a harder time prioritizing and motivating on things totally on my own.

So, one way to handle that knowledge is to work on ways to improve directly on those solo things -- for example, by blocking time on the calendar more effectively, making better use of AI tools to speed certain tasks up, etc. It's obvious to begin by focusing in this direction, which you could bucket as the "strengthen the weakness" approach.

A perhaps less obvious approach would be to "move the weakness to a strength".

For example: every quarter at USV we update our internal valuations of all of our holdings, and each partner does this independently for the investments they manage. For no good reason, I tend to fall behind on this and do it at the last minute, and it's annoying for everyone.

Today, I got on with one of our fantastic finance team members, and together we went through my list. This had a multi-part benefit: 1/ it got done, and quickly; 2/ by doing it together, we actually investigated a flagged a few things that required follow-up from others on our team and 3/ it was fun.

So, what we have decided to do going forward is: rather than the finance team bugging me to remember to do these myself each quarter, we're just going to pre-book a 30 minute call to do it together, which will be a much better approach for all the reasons I mentioned above.

In this particular case, I feel so so lucky to have the benefit of an amazing team at USV, where I can really leverage this particular strength area (not just my own, but ours as a team).

But regardless of the particulars of any person's strengths and weaknesses, I'm intrigued by this idea that in addition to just focusing on improving our weaknesses, we can also look for opportunities to replace a weakness with a strength, and that may end up being the more realistic / effective path.

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