Zones of genius: How to choose the best business partner for you

Social entrepreneur Miki Agrawal explains what makes a perfect business partner.

Miki Agrawal: So when you’re looking at bringing partners on, whether it’s investment partners, whether it’s business partners, like cofounder perspective, those kinds of things—Number one, it needs to be the same values. Do you both care about similar things in the world? So values need to align.

And then from a skill set perspective, you need to be opposites. Oftentimes best friends are like, “We want to start a business together!” That’s like the fastest way to not becoming best friends again. Being opposites is so important. I’m great at design. I’m great with the vision. I’m great at sort of the strategy. I’m really great at the aesthetic. I’m really great at the brand.

My partner needs to be great at operations, manufacturing, warehousing, legal, finance, all of that stuff that I don’t love. Can I do it? A little, but I prefer not to. I’d rather stay in my zone of genius and have someone really, really take on their zone of genius, and be in mutual awe of one another. Like I really believe that there is that yin and yang that does exist.

Like if I have yang energy someone needs to have yin energy to be a real perfect partner.

I think to have the right partner energetically you need to be a match and skill set wise you need to be a match. So yin yang like energetically and then yin yang from a skill set perspective.

We often like, we’re like: “Both of us are super hyper!” Even if you have other like skill sets than I do, that hyper-hyper-hyper might not work.

And if it’s hype-calm, like the calm counterpart calms me down. My hyperactiveness makes them more excited. So that energetically works.

When from a skillset perspective, “I’m great at this, he or she is great at this,” we’re in mutual awe of each other both energetically and from a skill set perspective. That is the perfect partner.

So I sit on the board of Conscious Capitalism and I think Conscious Capitalism is really based on a stakeholder model. Like every single person has to win, and I think in the past I was a little bit sloppy in a stakeholder model in that we scaled so quickly, “just put butts in seats fast.” I didn’t really think about a lot of things as you’re scaling, which happens to most entrepreneurs, and I think now it really is with Tushy I’m really, really deliberate about the type of people I bring onto the team: really checking their background to see if they really fit.

Before anyone gets hired they have to meet the whole team and the team has to give me their feedback on what they think about this person, if they jive well. It really is culture. Culture trumps strategy every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

And in the past I certainly was a lot more sort of lax. “Oh, you have a pulse? Come join, we’re busy. We’ve got to grow.”

And now, “What’s your background? Let me look at your social media,” and if it’s all selfies you know that’s scary! That’s not a great person to have on your team if it’s like selfie from every angle, which means that they might not be a great team player. And so and then calling references, doing background checks. It’s so important to do that and I just didn’t, and I think to really create that culture, to really scale a business requires doing that real work.

And with Tushy I’m so, so deliberate. My new CEO role, I’ve interviewed 50 people for this role to really be that yin to my yang and that opposite to my skill set. And in the past I would have been like “Okay people, let’s go.” And now it’s “50 people? Call all ten references of every one of them,” and really had them meet all the team to make sure that they liked the person. It’s really, really important to do that culture fit test which I didn’t do in the past.

Social entrepreneur Miki Agrawal explains what makes a perfect business partner. It's not usually your best friend. In fact, it may be best to get a partner who is the opposite of you. Miki also shares how she achieves hiring "yin yang" in her own companies.

Scientists reactivate cells from 28,000-year-old woolly mammoth

"I was so moved when I saw the cells stir," said 90-year-old study co-author Akira Iritani. "I'd been hoping for this for 20 years."

Yamagata et al.
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Five Hawks Down: watch the tragic migration of six Californian raptors

Tracking project establishes northern Argentina is wintering ground of Swainson's hawks

Image: @TrackingTalons / Ruland Kolen
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  • Watch these six dots move across the map and be moved yourself: this is a story about coming of age, discovery, hardship, death and survival.
  • Each dot is a tag attached to the talon of a Swainson's Hawk. We follow them on their very first migration, from northern California all the way down to Argentina.
  • After one year, only one is still alive.

Discovered: destination Argentina

Image: @TrackingTalons

Young Swainson's hawks were found to migrate to northern Argentina

The Buteo swainsoni is a slim, graceful hawk that nests from the Great Plains all the way to northern California.

It feeds mainly on insects, but will also prey on rodents, snakes and birds when raising their young. These learn to fly about 45 days after hatching but may remain with their parents until fall migration, building up flying skills and fat reserves.

A common sight in summer over the Prairies and the West, Swainson's hawks disappear every autumn. While it was assumed they migrated south, it was long unclear precisely where they went.

A group of researchers that has been studying raptors in northern California for over 40 years has now established exactly where young Swainson's hawks go in winter. The story of their odyssey, summarized in a 30-second clip (scroll down), is both amazing and shocking.

Harnessing the hawks

Image: @TrackingTalons, found here on imgur.

A Swainson's hawk, with tracking device.

The team harnessed six Swainson's hawks in July, as they were six weeks old and just learning to fly. The clip covers 14 months, until next August – so basically, the first year of flight.

Each harness contains a solar-powered tracker and weighs 20 grams, which represents just 3% of the bird's body weight. To minimize the burden, only females were harnessed: as with most raptors, Swainson's hawk females generally are bigger than males.

The first shock occurs just one month (or about 2.4 seconds) from the start of the clip: the first dot disappears. The first casualty. A fledgling no more than two months old, who never made it further than 20 miles from its nest.

By that time, the remaining five are well on their way, clustering around the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas. Swainson's hawks usually travel at around 40 mph (65 km/h) but can almost double that speed when they're stooping (i.e. dive down, especially when attacking prey).

'Migration unrest'

First year of life for six Swainson's Hawks [OC] from r/dataisbeautiful

There's a strong genetic component to migration. As usual, the Germans have nice single word to summarize this complex concept: Zugunruhe ('tsook-n-roowa'), literally: 'migration unrest' (1). It denotes the seasonal urge of migratory animals – especially birds – to get on their way. Zugunruhe exhibits especially as restless behavior around nightfall. The number of nights on which it occurs is apparently higher if the distance to be traveled is longer.

The birds may have the urge to go south, but genetics doesn't tell them the exact route. They have to find that out by trial and error. Hence the circling about by the specimens in this clip: they're getting a sense of where to find food and which direction to go. Their migratory paths will be refined by experience – if they're lucky enough to survive that long.

Each bird flies solo: their paths often strongly diverge, and if they seem to meet up occasionally, that's just an illusion: even when the dots are close together, they can still be dozens if not hundreds of miles apart.

Panama snack stop

Image: @TrackingTalons

The Central American isthmus is a major bird migration corridor

They generally follow the same route as it is the path of least resistance: follow mountain ranges, stay over land. Like most raptors, Swainson's hawks migration paths are land-based: not just so they can roost at night, but mainly to benefit from the thermals and updrafts to keep them aloft. That reduces the need to flap wings, and thus their energy spend – even though the trip will take longer that way.

As this clip demonstrates, the land-migration imperative means the Central American isthmus is a hotspot for bird migration. Indeed, Panama and Costa Rica are favorite destinations for bird watchers, when the season's right. A bit to the north, Veracruz in Mexico is another bird migration hotspot.

It's thought most hawks don't eat at all on migration. This clip shows an exception to that rule: on the way back, one bird takes an extended stopover of a couple of weeks in Panama, probably spending its time there foraging for food.

So, when they finally arrive in northern Argentina, after 6 to 8 weeks' migration, the hawks are pretty famished. Until a few decades ago, they fed on locusts. For their own reasons, local farmers have been getting rid of those. The hawks now concentrate on grasshoppers, and basically anything else that's edible.

For first-time visitors, finding what they need is not easy. Three of the five dots go dark. These birds probably died from starvation. But two birds thrive: they roam the region until winter rears its head in South America, and it's time to head back north again, where summer is getting under way.

Both dots make it back across the border, but unfortunately, right at the end of the clip, one of the surviving two birds expires.

Harsh, but not unusual

Image: @TrackingTalons, found here on imgur.

This old lady is 27 years old, but still nesting.

While a one-in-six survival rate may seem alarmingly harsh, it's not that unusual. First-year mortality for Swainson's Hawks is between 50% and 80%. Disease, starvation, predators and power lines – to name just a few common causes of death - take out a big number.

Only 10% to 15% of the young 'uns make it past their third or fourth year into adulthood, but from then on, annual survival rates are much better: around 90%. Adult Swainson's Hawks can expect to live into their low teens. There's one documented example of a female Swainson's Hawk in the wild who was at least 27 years old (and still nesting!)

The Californian population of Swainson's Hawks plummeted by about 90% at the end of last century but is now again increasing well. The monitoring project that produced this clip has been going for about four decades but is seeing its funding dry up. Check them out and consider supporting them (see details below).

Image: Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

Migration trajectory of B95, the 'Moonbird'.

Not all migrating birds shun the ocean. Here's an incredible map of an incredible migration path that's even longer than that of the Swainson's hawks.

In February 1995, a red knot (Calidris canutus rufa) in Tierra del Fuego (southern Argentina) was banded with the tag B95. That particular bird, likely born in 1993, was recaptured at least three times and resighted as recently as May 2014, in the Canadian Arctic.

B95 is more commonly known as 'Moonbird', because the length of its annual migration (app. 20,000 miles; 32,000 km) combined with its extreme longevity (if still alive, it's 25-26 years old now) means its total lifetime flight exceeds the distance from the Earth to the Moon.

As many other shorebirds do, the red knot takes the Atlantic Flyway hugging the coastline and crossing to South America via the ocean.

B95 has become the poster bird of conservationists in both North and South America. A book titled Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 (2012) received numerous awards, B95 has a statue in Mispillion Harbor on Delaware Bay and the City of Rio Grande on Tierra del Fuego has proclaimed B95 its natural ambassador.

Perhaps one day the nameless Swainson's Hawks in this clip, fallen in service of their ancestral instincts – against the odds of human increasing interference – will receive a similar honor.

Migration clip found here at the DataIsBeautiful subreddit. Read through the comments to learn a lot more about Swainson's Hawks, and raptors in general.

Check out the California raptor tracking programme 'Tracking Talons' on Twitter at @TrackingTalons, on their Facebook page, and on their website.

Strange Maps #965

Got a strange map? Let me know at strangemaps@gmail.com.

(1) 'Zug' is a wonderfully polyvalent German word. It can mean: a train, a chess move, a characteristic, a stroke, a draft (of a plan), a gulp (of air), a drag (from a cigarette), a swig (from a bottle), and more.

Trusting your instincts is lazy: Poker pro Liv Boeree on Big Think Edge

International poker champion Liv Boeree teaches decision-making for Big Think Edge.

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