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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Startup – Soft assets

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In college at the University of Iowa, my major was communication studies.

mhealyThis wasn’t the type of communications degree that has to do with broadcasting or journalism – but the kind where I was taking courses in non-verbal, intercultural and persuasive communications. After graduating, I’ve continued to be a student of how people deliver messages and nurture relationships.

Recently I was having a conversation with my friend Joe Zhu – a former Jaycees President – about business, networking, and relationships. We spent a great deal of time going back and forth about the idea of hard and soft assets.

This was a term coined by Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, in the book “The Start-Up of You.” Everyone is familiar with the idea of hard assets; money, houses, 401K, etc. – but I would argue that soft assets are even more important.

Soft assets are personal relationships and your network. I believe that when you measure success, one leads to the other and you would be hard pressed to find someone with a great network of soft assets, that doesn’t ALSO have wealth and hard assets.

The sooner people realize the power of strong relationships, the sooner they will succeed in business & life. This doesn’t mean going through the chamber directory and adding every person on LinkedIn! It means having real conversations with real people where you want to help them while expecting nothing in return. This is the principle from “The Go-Giver” by Bob Burg; the more you give and put out into this world, the more comes back to you down the road.

I think people sometimes get distracted and forget the importance of soft assets because it’s not always immediately quantifiable. People in your network will present you with bountiful opportunities down the road, but there’s no exact timeline. It takes a lot of faith and the right mindset, which is difficult when we all have a tendency to get pulled towards instant gratification.

So how can you grow your soft assets? Start by making a list of people you admire and ask them to lunch. When you get together, don’t say a SINGLE word about your business unless asked. And even if you are asked, give a quick answer because this type of meeting isn’t about you, it’s all about them. Ask genuine questions about their story and business and actively think of how you can help them. Keep the right mindset and you’ll set yourself up for future success.

The books mentioned above can be found locally at Anderson’s Bookshop Downtown Naperville.

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Mike Healy
Mike Healyhttp://www.velocityenergygroup.com
Mike Healy is a local entrepreneur and graduate of Iowa. In 2010, he founded Velocity Energy Group, a retail energy consulting firm helping businesses develop advanced procurement strategies for their electricity and natural gas. He also is the co-founder of the West Suburban Angels, a member-led, not-for-profit that brings together high-growth early stage start-up businesses looking for capital and mentorship, with investors. In addition, he is actively involved in the Jaycees, Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Young Professionals of Naperville.
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