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3 Business Lessons From the Peregrine Falcons Near My Office

Have you ever had to give up control and teach someone else to fly? Did they crash and burn or soar?
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An office in a large building in downtown San Francisco is about the last place you would expect to offer a close encounter with nature. But that's exactly what we got recently, as a pair of peregrine falcons and their chicks took up residence in a high-rise adjacent to ours.

Lucky for us, the folks at a bird research group have a "Falcon Cam" installed to give us a live peek inside the nest 24/7. The organization has been following that nest since 2005, and every year there's a new falcon family. I've got to admit, I can't stop watching. I've become attached to the chicks and seeing how they are growing.

When I got to thinking about it, I realized that we could learn a few business leadership lessons from these birds of prey.

1. Nurture.

Often we get so caught up in the day-to-day dealings of leading and running our business that we forget that we need to nurture it. And by nurture it, I mean a variety of things. Like the peregrine falcons spending more than a month sitting on their eggs, and then nearly two months protecting, feeding, and tending to their chicks, we need to keep in mind that someone--or maybe everyone--needs to nurture our product or service, our customers and prospects, and, of course, our employees.

After being at the helm of my e-mail marketing company VerticalResponse for the last 13 years, I definitely feel a sense of obligation and responsibility to take care of the business, and I want my teams to feel the same way. That passion and instinct is what makes us great, and I think our customers and employees can sense that. How are you nurturing your business?

2. Demonstrate teamwork.

No business succeeds through the efforts of a single person. And there have been lots of posts written about teamwork and how to do it better, so I'm not going to go there. What I've noticed about those falcons is that they really do embody a team. The mom and dad falcons work together to protect, nurture, feed, and give their chicks the best chance of survival--which takes some doing given they've got a pretty high first-year mortality rate. (Kind of like startups!)

How you model and execute teamwork from Day One--it can set your business on a course for success or extinction. Is teamwork alive and well in your business, or do unnecessary silos exist that need to be knocked down?

3. Learn to fly.

One of my favorite falcon-watching moments occurred one day last spring when my husband John and I were returning from lunch. We were walking toward the office when we saw the falcons soaring through the sky and then dropping into a dive. There was a lot of squawking involved, and we wondered what all the commotion was about. Then we looked up and saw...flying lessons! Yep, the chicks were being pushed to the ledge and taking that leap of faith and learning to fly. Imagine how that must feel?!

Well, in some sense, I bet you already know. As a business leader, we've all had to take a leap of faith at one time or another in our careers. We've had to stop questioning, stop analyzing, let go, trust, and just go for it. Or maybe, you've had to give up some control and teach someone else to do something and then let them spread their wings and fly.

And guess what? Maybe they crashed and burned. And then maybe they got up, dusted themselves off, and tried again. It's all good because you've got to let them do it, just like the falcons.

Have you learned any business lessons from an unconventional source like my falcons? Share in the comments.

Did you enjoy this post? If so, sign up for the free VR Buzz and check out the VerticalResponse Marketing Blog.

IMAGE: Corbis
Last updated: Apr 21, 2014

JANINE POPICK

Janine Popick is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse (a Deluxe company), a leading provider of self-service email and social media marketing tools for small businesses. The company was ranked No. 4,882 on the 2013 Inc. 5000. @janinepopick




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