Lessons in Leadership: It Can Be as Easy as C-A-T

Lessons in Leadership: It Can Be as Easy as C-A-T



I know why so many people are fascinated with cat videos. Sure cats are cute and cuddly – or can be, when so moved. Yes, they do the funniest/dumbest things (see YouTube – just search ‘cat’). More importantly, they know how to get what they want, when they want it and although many of them supposedly have owners, at the end of the day, they answer to no one. People may allow dogs at the office as a perk, mascot or as a friendly and playful diversion, but there’s a lot an entrepreneur can learn from the felis catus community. Try bringing one of them to work, but make no mistake about it: it won’t be long before they’ll find their own little corner. Office, of course. You know: the one that you formerly occupied

  1. Cats know what they want, when they want it, and how to get it. They’ll either cajole you or make your life miserable until you figure out precisely what they want at that moment in time. They’ll stop at nothing: it’s all about the end result.
  2. Dogs have owners; cats have staff. Period.
  3. Cats are results-oriented. They may be deceptively soft and cuddly, but the fact is, there’s no such thing as a truly domesticated cat. Except in the minds of humans. They’ll turn on you or attack in a New York minute. And bite the hand that feeds them, unless there’s a treat in it (meaning, the hand) for them.
  4. Cats are curious. No matter how long they’ve lived in the apartment, if any changes are made – even the smallest thing –  they’ll investigate it. If something/someone new comes in, they’ll investigate. They take nothing for granted. They explore. Take a lesson, and like a cat, take nothing on blind faith. Trust, but verify.
  5. Cat naps. Sleep is underrated. When cats feel that they need their rest, they’ll stop and nap. Anywhere. Any times. Preferably in a spot which you’ve just occupied, but (supposedly) briefly surrendered. Nice and warm! Find another spot. Or prepare to do battle. But when you run into a seemingly insurmountable problem, try sleeping on it. Or take a cat nap and come back to it later with fresh eyes.
  6. Playtime is important. Cats love to play. And they do so, with a purpose, if Paris (my cat) is any indication. She loves those stuffed-mice-on-a-stick toys and will chase them and rip them apart – or try to – on a daily basis. Then again, it’s filled with catnip. She’ll chase a ball, especially if it’s one of those little plastic rattle balls, and although she’ll run and find it, she won’t fetch it and bring it back to you. That’s your job. Remember: cats have staff.
  7. Cats live in the moment. Paris prefers to be hand fed. Even if she she’d been fed ten minutes before, she’s back. For more food (and attention). What one did ten minutes ago has absolutely nothing to do with present time.
  8. 8.     Cats have attitude. They assume that they’re in charge. Then they make sure that others are aware of the fact that it’s their world and you’re merely allowed to occupy it. Look, someone needs to be there to bring them what they need, when they need it. Many believe that cats act as though they’re independent. That’s not true: cats act as though they’re independently wealthy. It’ll no doubt come as no surprise to learn that female cats are known as queens.
  9. Cats find value in even the most basic things.  Entrepreneurs have a habit of focusing on the big picture, while overlooking the basics or the details, and we all know wherein the devil lies. Notice how you tend to hear about the monthly subscription box services there are available out there for dogs? It seems new ones are being launched daily. For cats, not so much. Waste of money. They’re satisfied with playing with the box itself. Sometimes, simple is best.

10. Never give up. Paris has been trying to get out of the apartment to explore Whatever Lurks Beyond the Foyer Door forever. She has managed to scurry past us a few times, when we didn’t close the door behind us quickly enough. I know she’s determined to find out what’s around the corner at the other end of the hallway. She’ll succeed. With cats, failure is never an option.

Above all, remember: cats always have an agenda.

And they always mean business.

Image credit: CC by 7 7

About the author: Bonnie Halper

Bonnie Halper curates the StartupOneStop.com newsletter, which focuses on startups and entrepreneurs, and is currently being read in 50+ countries around the world.

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