Trust is hard.
Joe Gebbia, Airbnb’s Co-Founder has a popular TED talk where he asks audience members to take out their cell phones, and then pass it to the person on their left. The whole point of this is to model the panic we feel when we have to trust someone, a feeling Airbnb members struggle with all the time when they agree to let a complete stranger into their world. I’d like to take this feeling a few steps further.
Like many startup founders, it took persistent failures for me to recognize thinkLaw’s grand vision of creating a world where critical thinking was no longer a luxury good reserved for the most elite students at the most elite schools would never happen without the right team in place. And as #TeamthinkLaw comes together for our first annual company retreat in Phoenix, AZ, I feel obliged to reflect on what has been the ultimate trust fall: building and investing in our startup team.
Why is Building a Start Team Like a Trust Fall?
I thought long and hard about why this type of trust is so hard, and I thing it comes down to three things. First, you don’t know what you don’t know. So when you bring on someone to do the things you struggle with, you really have to trust and believe they will have it under control. And that is easier said than done. Second, it’s hard enough to trust people you see every day. But our team is spread out throughout the country. So it takes a much higher degree of trust to put faith into a virtual team. Last, and most importantly, I had a hard time trusting myself. I’m asking a team to join me on a path with a very uncertain future, and trust their livelihoods to my leadership. That’s scary, and feels like we are all doing a trust fall at the same time!
Vision >>> Trust
The only way to get over this is to realize that the only trust that really matters is the trust that your team believes in your vision, and is willing to do whatever it takes to make this vision a reality. “Whatever it takes” includes the mistakes, the miscalculations, the miscommunications, and the missed opportunities as much as it includes the victories and accolades. Knowing that every single member of my team believes that helping students gain access to highly engaging, rigorous critical thinking instruction and education equity are tied at the hip, and that it is our job to make this happen, gives me an enormous peace of mind that helps me overcome the barriers to trusting others and trusting myself.
thinkLaw’s 1st Annual Company Retreat
With all that said, I’m excited to host thinkLaw’s 1st annual company retreat, where we are going to double-down on our efforts to ensure we are maximizing our impact, push ourselves even further on our vision, and develop with an actionable strategy for how we will make this happen. We will be sharing some of our ideas and strategies with our thinkLaw community, and look forward to your feedback!
And we can actually use some of that feedback right now. If you are a retreat guru, a former Residential Advisor in College, or just a sucker for team-building activities, please share your ideas of great trust exercises/icebreakers that would work well for a group of 4 people. We have some ideas, but would love to hear your favorites and give them a shot.
We know that critical thinking is hard to teach, but it remains one of the most important 21st century skills. New tests require students to apply critical thinking to challenging questions. But critical thinking is still a luxury good: less than 1 of 10 educators teach it and that educator is often at an elite school or only teaches critical thinking to elite students.
thinkLaw closes this gap by helping educators teach critical thinking to ALL students through 25 engaging, Standards-Aligned lessons based on real-life legal cases. These cases tap into students’ inherent sense of justice and fairness and empower students to do the heavy lifting through critical thinking tasks usually reserved for law students. thinkLaw’s comprehensive program includes teacher guides and tools to allow them to deliver lessons with under 20 minutes of prep time, student workbooks, and 3 sessions of virtual coaching.