Representing GS as an investor, she has interviewed 273 startup founders just in 2018 alone. She asks herself everyday how to best assess which founder has the biggest potential.
Instead of assessing founders based on their educational background (IQ) or EQ, she chooses to look out for one single trait, which believes is the most important: Adaptability Quotient (AQ). By that, she meant
"How well a person reacts to the inevitability of change, and lots of it".
Natalie believes we can suss out the level of AQ in a person by:
1) Asking "what if" questions to understand what would a person do in a simulated situation.
The ability of a person to go beyond just retaining information and instead, be able to manipulating information to achieve a specific goal, is a sign of adaptability.
2) Looking for signs of unlearning what they already know and "overwrite" that data with new data.
To that, she gave the example of a guy who reconstruct a bicycle that rides left when he turns right. She also quotes Ghandi, who wrote in his autobiography: "I must reduce myself to zero." as an analogy of being able to adopt a beginner's mindset.
3) Does the person values exploration over exploitation by infuse exploration into their life and business?
Quoting the Blockbuster CEO, Natalie pointed out that his previous success became the enemy of his adaptability potential. By not going beyond the accepted, successful models, Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy in 2010 . A classic example of "What brought you here, won't take you there".
As young as Natalie may seem, I find a lot of wisdom in her words.
As a coach and consultant who runs my own practice, I experienced no less knocks and bumps on my the journey and I cannot agree more with her that Adaptability can make or break a person - not just in entrepreneurship, but a person's mind, emotion and and spirit.
For entrepreneurs out there - what has been your takeaway - both aye and nay, if there be?