Do you Have What it Takes to be a Strategist?

“Success has always been a great liar.” -Nietzsche

Do you ever think the most powerful ideas are often the ones that are hidden from you?

It’s true. There are secrets to success. They are hidden everywhere, and the most incredible people around us weave them together in the most unlikely ways. You won’t read a lot about it on blogs. They often depend on secrecy. They are singular, special ideas. They are often terribly specific.

That’s probably why most business blogs default to: “rah rah rah rah rah get moving!”

I’m cool with a good rah, but behind the scenes of any success, there are forces at play that can be more powerful.

How you recognize and manipulate these factors is called strategy. Somebody who excels at arranging them in her favor is a strategist.

People suck at strategy. We aren’t wired for it. That’s your opportunity.

I feel like I have a good nose for winners and losers– and most of us do. You know when somebody tells you about their plans you can pretty much be like “yep!” or “nope!” in your head?

That part is easy. Most of us can do that.

Here’s the hard part. Could you say or do something with that person that would change a ‘nope’ into a ‘yep’?

Got it in you?

If so, you’re sitting on a goldmine.

Do you have what it takes to be a strategist?

If you want to kick ass at business, and aren’t sitting on a huge asset, it might make sense to start flexing your strategy muscles. Becoming a strategist can be an excellent route for people struggling with some of the more stock online business advice: “work hard, be consistent, start a brand, do your passion.”

Being a strategist isn’t right for most people. I’ve noticed certain traits that allow people to excel at strategic maneuvering:

  1. Excellent at consuming and criticizing information. To a an excellent strategist, you need to have better information that those you are competing against. It’s an absolute must that you love to consume massive amounts of information and be excellent at how to determine its relevance.
  2. Having a wide variety of rapidly changing interests (insanely curious). I am still often surprised at how poor academics (generally) are with strategic maneuvering given the amount of information they’ve consumed in their lifetime. The trend I see, in general, is that the broader your range of interests the more likely you are to be a good strategist. This also has a lot of practical applications. Ever hear the one about the calligraphy course that influenced the fonts on the Macintosh? Having a broad range of intersts also makes you more interesting, which contributes to another important trait of a strategist…
  3. Seductive. You can’t be a strategist in a bubble. Eventually, you’ll need to move some pieces around the board, and that means getting people passionate about your ideas and projects or otherwise controlling them.
  4. Amoral. Strategists are predisposed to analyze, not judge. Being amoral doesn’t mean you run around slinging insults at folks. Amoral people aren’t “uptight.” They feel comfortable learning about and exploring commonly considered deviant activities, and are more likely to see the learning opportunity than to take offense. If you feel you are a hyper moral person, consider that you might be using your morals as a way to protect yourself from certain kinds of information. This is not a good approach for a strategist, who could put that information to good use. Being dedicated to morals is different than being dedicated to tastes, but that’s a whole blog post.
  5. Brave. You’ll hang back most of the time, gathering information, but you’ll need to know the right time to execute your plan. When you do, it’ll be difficult and you’ll need to step up.
  6. Confident. In both your vision and your direction. Strategists appear to lose much more than they win. They appear to give much more than they receive. People who are insecure about their person or their vision demand constant victory. Constant affirmation. To win the big battles, you’ll need to be the one offering affirmation, and putting off your own victories until it counts.

Interested? Here’s some starter reading with people smarter than myself…..

Have a great weekend! :) A special shout to those of you who don’t even know its the weekend :D

Cheers from San Diego,


@TropicalMBA <– My strategy is to tweet all day long!

PS, for those interested my travel schedule looks like this:

  • Currently in San Diego, CA
  • March 1-6 Southern Florida
  • March 11-15 SXSW Austin, TX
  • March 20– ? Manila, Philippines
  • April 1st – Bali, Indonesia

PPS, we are currently working on the next round of  offers for TMBA interns, I’ll have some info on that in February.

PPPS, I like making videos…..