Team! Team! Team!

To my young girl’s eyes, Martha Oakey, cheerleader for Virginia Tech during the 1970s, was the goddess of beauty. Her mother was a fifth grade teacher at Margaret Beeks Elementary School, so my friends and I felt like we knew a star and the star’s mother. When blonde-haired Martha Oakey called out the Old Hokie Cheer at football games in Lane Stadium, we joined our voices with hers with our whole hearts: "Team! Team! Team!"

That cheer shaped my feeling about teams. I’ve been in about a billion team-building meetings. If the leader had passion, I would feel my excitement rise. What if he or she could truly lead us to teamhood? I could hear the band playing "So give a Hokie, Hokie, Hokie, Hi!" and see the orange and white pom-poms. I could remember believing Martha Oakey when we all shouted together, "Team! Team! Team!"

According to Steve Ringlee, Partner of Centesimus Capital who presented recently for the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer, "Successful businesses are not technologies, but teams."

I can imagine a conversation like this one between investors and entrepreneurs.

"Great idea!" the investor says. "So what kind of team have you put together?"

Yikes. The idea for an innovation usually originates in the mind, heart, and spirit of one individual.

"Uh," the entrepreneur says, "Excuse me, but I’ve been working on this world-changing idea. You’ve got my idea and you’ve got me. Isn’t that enough?"

"Well," the investor answers, "In the big football game of business, it takes a team to win."

"But," the entrepreneur says, "my idea is revolutionary! I’ve been working on the idea! I haven’t had time to put together a team."

"You’ve definitely got a good idea," the investor says. "Let us know when you’ve got a team."

What’s an entrepreneur to do?

Call Jim Flowers, director of high-tech business incubator VT KnowledgeWorks. He’s in the high-tech start-up team-building business.

Go to Concept Camp, newly backed by accounting firm Hodges, Jones & Mabry, P.C. The next session is June 18-20, 2008.  Get together with like-minded entrepreneurs to problem-solve the shock of learning that the idea just isn’t enough.

If you believe enough in your idea, your passion can put together a cheering, winning team.


  1. As I read Christine Nelson's letter in your recent blog, visited her web site, , and thought about "teams," all I could think about was "guts." That's what it takes to mature an idea, to ask people to join-up with you (people who have guts), and to get funds to implement the idea (to spend on team members and their magical work together). Translating "guts" as "reducing risks" is as different as "five good guys" and "a team." Maybe Ispiri knows the source(s) of guts?

  2. I've just been corresponding with a state wildlife law enforcement agency official and have realized (hypothesized) that a blog (especially a private internal blog) is currently a great crime-scene analysis tool. It is a way to organize (unedited) the scene and to put things in reverse chronological order with links to other sources such as observers, agents, and officers and RSS or updating feeds. It is "a way to capture unorganized and unedited informal writing that stimulates ideas and new thinking" (from "Naked Conversations" by R. Scoble and S. Israel, 2006 John Wiley and Sons). Everyone on the “team” gets to speak.

  3. Anne Clelland says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful, informed, thought-provoking comments.

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