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Trouble Brewing with Friends Who Are Partners/ Colleagues

Sat down with a young film Director and Producer recently who is having trouble with his team. He’s produced several independent pieces and is about to work with a massive brand and big time director. He’s real excited about the opportunities coming up, but more recently, he’s frustrated with his colleagues who also happen to be good friends.

There have been pains and frustrations with key individuals which have threatened production; meanwhile, relationships between his brand and his clients have been strained due to the same colleagues. The crux of the problem is working with friends who are amateurs and are not as determined as he is.

While this Director is working hard and building a name in the industry, his colleagues are neither at his level, nor are they working as hard to be better. The production is HIS brand, and he is realizing it is his brand that is being harshly affected. His visions are being muddied by those representing him. In an industry based on brand and can be fickle, every negative relationship can tarnish opportunities for years.

Thoughts here:
  • It’s real, so treat it as such. One of my lessons from Body Boss is that you have to treat your startup as a true company (or Production Company in this case). It’s not a hobby if you want it to truly turn into something special. You can start from a hobby, but eventually, you must treat it as a company. Everything counts. Everything matters.
  • Your team is an extension of you. For entrepreneurs, it’s the co-founding team, the leadership, the employees. Top-to-bottom, everyone represents your brand. Hire slow. Fire fast.
  • It’s not about friends, it’s about quality… about passion… about vision. Some say working with friends is bad, but that’s not the real problem. The problem arises when you can’t work professionally together, and how working relationships can impact personal ones. Sometimes, friends should just stay friends.
  • Re-frame the hard talks. The Director is worried about impacting personal relationships when considering how to approach his colleagues about moving in different professional paths. However, the longer he procrastinates, the more mistakes occur. It’s important to realize that hard talks will occur as the company grows, as more customers onboard, etc. Re-frame the difficult talks into interests (rather than positions). Each talk needs to happen for a reason, so re-frame to the positive outcome of this.
One of the greatest challenges of any business is maintaining a positive culture rooted in its founding mission and values. The candidates and partners businesses bring on board has a tremendous say in how companies can be successful.

For the Director, it’s important to realize that not everyone will fit the culture and passion of the company, and he needs to take action sooner rather than later. The Director is the leader, and must lead by example.


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