Lassie to the Rescue: A Pet Can Fix Your Leadership Mojo
Last Friday, June 20, was an occasion better known as my new favorite holiday, national Take Your Dog to Work Day. Though my rescue pup Magic can't go everywhere with me (client meetings, clearly, are out, but the team loved seeing her at our monthly Friday happy hour), everyone at Lexion knows that nothing makes me happier than to work alongside my favorite four-legged team member.
Financial markets can be up, down, or flat--my dog doesn’t care. She's just happy to have a ball and a little free time to go to the park.
A dog-friendly office might not be for everyone, but here are four reasons every entrepreneur should have a pet.
1. A pet teaches you to step up as alpha.
Every CEO should have a dog. Why? It trains you to thrive in your role as pack leader. As a dog owner, it's your job to create discipline and structure. Knowing who's in charge actually helps your dog feel comfortable.
At work, you are the culture keeper. You are the central decision maker. You set the tone. Everyone performs better with clear expectations and some high-level structure. The best work environments are those that encourage creativity, innovative change, and constant growth--but even the most free-wheeling company culture must rest on a few ground rules. It's your job to set those ground rules, and your team members expect you to. Anything less means you're not leading effectively, and if you don't lead, you put that responsibility on them. That breeds anxiety and confusion.
2. A pet forces you to take breaks.
I adopted my beloved pit-mix mutt, Magic, from a shelter when I was just embarking on the early stages of setting up my asset management firm, Lexion Capital. Everyone thought I was crazy. I thought, this is the perfect time to get a puppy. For one thing, it helps to have an excuse to get up from your computer and walk outside. When you're working crazy, round-the-clock startup hours, those precious moments of fresh air and mental clarity are vital not just for protecting your health but also to protect against burnout. Nobody does his or her best work after being chained to a desk for hours on end. A quick change of scene can boost you through all manner of roadblocks. To this day, I get my best, most inspired business ideas from walking with Magic through Central Park.
3. A pet expands your business and personal networks.
Nothing will create a more instant sense of community with a stranger than your pups playing together at the dog run. And who's a dog owner? Everyone. It's an important lesson for any entrepreneur to keep in mind: Don't stay siloed in your niche. Meet all kinds of people. You never know where your next great idea or great connection will come from. As it turns out, I met another entrepreneur and fellow dog lover in my neighborhood. We traded business ideas while our pups played. And in true entrepreneurial spirit, she ran with a thought from one of those early conversations and has since gone on to found animal-rescue nonprofit Mr. Bones and Co.
4. A pet provides an emotional release.
Dogs are excited by each and every possibility of a new day. They are excited by your very presence. They don't care whether you've done amazingly well or are terribly disappointed. When you come through the front door, they shower you with love no matter what. We can all do with a dose of that unflagging encouragement, perpetual optimism, and faith in ourselves.
My cat, on the other hand, is not quite so encouraging. He generally sits on the keyboard as I'm trying to type. But I do like the balance of my little zoo, and we entrepreneurs can learn a lot from our feline friends as well. Cats are endlessly curious. They are constantly attempting the impossible, jumping up to try and reach new heights. Sure, they might fall from time to time, but cats are the ultimate masters of the pivot. They always land on their feet. And before long, they're after some new perch.
ELLE KAPLAN | Columnist | CEO, Lexion Capital Management
A finance expert and self-made entrepreneur, Elle Kaplan is the CEO and founding partner of Lexion Capital Management, the only 100 percent woman-owned asset management firm in the U.S.