Johnson Cook

Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Johnson Cook - Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Tips for Assessing Fit on the Front End


My favorite saying from mushy success guys is this: “Your success trajectory over the next 12-months is 99% determined by two things.  First by the quantity and type of books you read, and second by the people you meet.

With this in mind, are you intentional about who you meet, and how you spend your energy helping others?   I’ve found that I can’t help everyone.   Some folks don’t fit my personality or my high-energy MO. They don’t align with my core values or they drain my energy.   Given this law of the universe (that everyone isn’t a fit) combined with a calendar that stays overbooked, I now assess fit on the front-end of a relationship.

Here are some tips that work for me.

  • Respect to the calendar process – I use several tools to manage my calendar. When someone complains about their inability to schedule a meeting with me, they often sound as though I should apologize for having a busy  schedule.  This is a huge indicator of patience, respect, and seeing things through others’ eyes.  I can’t help these people because I wouldn’t be willing to introduce them to my network, because of the risk that they would treat them similarly.
  • Mode of communication – I hate the telephone. I prefer face-to-face meetings. For information transfer, e-mail is my preferred mode of communication.   Without debating the value of the phone, etc… It is important to note that different people prefer different modes of communicating, and when I’m building a relationship with someone, I like to know that I’ll be able to communicate with them in my own style.  It’s hard to build a relationship of value when two people prefer different modes of communication.
  • Attention to detail – When people show up the wrong day, week, or MONTH to their scheduled appointment with me, it’s a major red flag. DUUUHHH!   Sadly, this has happened most often when I’m meeting with college students to help them find career connections.  For some reason, kids are not taught to use a calendar.   I keep a large stick in the Village that I can use to bang them squarely on the head and suggest that to get a job, the first lesson is to learn how to manage your own schedule.
  • Aggressive WIIFM – These folks reek of selfishness like the sales guy at the conference who stayed out drinking until 6am reeks of booze.   They want to be sure I run through the checklist of things I can give them before our meeting so that I have everything lined up and ready.   It’s sad to see.  And yes, you can see (and smell) it coming from miles away.
  • Obvious stepping stone abuse – These are the folks who have looked at my LinkedIn profile, found a few VIP connections and want to spend an entire meeting asking me how I know so-and-so and what they have to do for an introduction.   To quote my favorite Monday Night Football saying: C’mooonnnn MAN! 
  • Negative Online personality – You will love this one. If you aren’t sure about someone, take a look at their twitter stream or Facebook posts. Count how many of their status updates are positive and how many are negative. This ratio will give a great read on someone’s personality type.

I proclaimed in the beginning of the year that my New Year’s Resolution for 2013 is to provide meaningful value to every person I meet with this year. So far, I feel that I have done a good job of this.  However, I’ve learned that not everyone can be helped at the same level. These front-end filters have been valuable in thinning the herd to the meetings where I can add real value.


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