Running a business on instinct.

Why numbers don’t do it for me.

The end of 2023, like every year, brought countdowns on social media. Businesses shared their “success in numbers,” influencers shared their top products, leaders numbered their top musings of the year, and Spotify wrapped us all.

As I mindlessly scrolled social media and perused a few of these lists, I thought to myself, “Why didn’t I create one of these for TealHaus?” But then I sort of laughed to myself. It’s simple. I don’t think in numbers (like, at all), and therefore, I don’t typically measure our success by how many companies we branded or marketing plans we wrote.

Kate and I have been working with a business coach to plan out the future of TealHaus, and part of that exercise was a self-assessment that helps us to understand our strengths and weaknesses as leaders. One question asked us to rank the extent to which we make decisions based on facts and figures. I think I ranked myself a 0, and Kate comically chose some random arbitrary number like 12 (out of 100). 

At first glance, this would be a “failure” on this test—something we would need to work toward with our coach. After a quick hesitation, though, our coach said, “Actually, I think we should throw out this question entirely.” We asked her what she meant, and she gestured to the easel we had written on earlier, in which Kate and I outlined how we make decisions for TealHaus. On this easel was written:

  • We think about the people in the situation. How would this relationship benefit our team? The client?
  • Feeling good about the decision is key. Are our values shared? Are we helping others? Are we giving back?
  • Will this relationship provide a positive impact?
  • Does the client vibrate at a higher level (total Lindsay note!)?

“See?” our coach said. “It’s obvious you don’t make decisions based on facts and figures, and that’s not a knock on you. You run this business differently than any of my other clients (which is saying a lot, as she works with Fortune 500 companies), but obviously it’s working.”

And then it hit me. Of course we make decisions based on instinct and soft ideas like shared values. This is the exact message we preach to our clients on a daily basis: people make decisions based on their emotions, not facts. This has been proven time and time again through years of psychological research. So actually, at TealHaus, we’re just admitting what’s already true about human nature.

So there will be no countdown from TealHaus this year (or probably ever). The most I’m counting is the number of fidget toys I’m allowed on my desk at one time during Zoom calls (currently six). But you know what? We’re doing okay. Actually, TealHaus is doing really well, and three years into this, we’re embracing who we are. To me, that’s what really matters.

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