Be the Beatles not The Flock of Seagulls: Secrets to Team Building for Entrepreneurs

John Greathouse is a General Partner at Rincon Venture Partners ( In this video he discusses secrets to team building for entrepreneurs.

  1. Maintain flexibility & be willing to do anything to win
  2. Find balance with complimentary talents
  3. Create a common vision & world view
  4. Maintain mutual respect
  5. Display external cohesion even while feeling internal dissent
  6. Utilize a strong supporting cast

So four lads from Liverpool, two different groups. One is The Flock of Seagulls. One is the Beatles. One had one hit and were known, if they’re known at all they are known for their weird hairstyles. The other continues to be an icon today and actually if you look it from 2000-2010 the Beatles outsold every other artist except for Eminem so they remain staying power, and there is a reason for their staying power.

And I think the things that made them a very powerful and strong team are the exact same characteristics that can make a startup team very powerful. One of the things that they were very well-known to do in their early days was be creative and flexible. They would do anything they had to, to win.

We think of the Beatles as these kinds of classic hippies that did whatever the hell they wanted. That wasn’t until they had made it. When they were on their way up they conformed to the reality of the day. They wore suits, they sing yeah, yeah, yeah, and they bow at the end of shows because they had to.

They had very complimentary talents. I think that is absolutely key in any successful team understanding where that balance wise. Everyone knows that Paul was the melodic song writer. John was the witty lyricist. George brought in the Worldbeat, the Raga. He brought a lot of diversity into their sound. And Ringo played the role of the average Joe. He was the person that the average person could look to and say, “Well, maybe I’m not as good looking as Paul. I’m not as smart as John, but hey, maybe I can sort of fantasize that I’m Ringo.”

They had a shared vision and a shared world view. You start to pass to have the same thing. You can’t sit in meetings and argue what does the world look like. You have to agree that the world looks a certain way, and certainly the Beatles did. In the early 1960s their world view was music sucks. Elvis was in the army. Little Richard was at minister. Chuck Barry was in prison. And Jerry Lee Lewis was ostracized for marrying his 13 year old cousin.

So all of their idols were on the sidelines and they decided to step in. These spotty faced teenagers from Liverpool decided that they were going to be bigger than Elvis, and they believed it.

They were only 4 people on the planet that believe that they were going to be bigger than Elvis, and they’ve pulled it off.

And one of the reasons why they pulled it off is they had incredible mutual respect for each other, and what that allowed them to do is when they were outside talking to the press if you go back and read any of the interviews they say positive things about each other. Paul is amazing. He is the greatest bass player ever. Ringo is the best drummer et cetera.

They didn’t take that into the studio. It wasn’t Paul (again) where it was praising each other all the time. They took into the studio was a passion and desire to put out the best product possible and because they had that mutual respect, they could fight like cats and dogs over a lyric or over a solo or whether not to use certain instrumentation.

And it was that mutual respect that allowed them to stay cohesive yet to challenge each other to bring, for everybody to bring their A-game into the studio every single day.

I murmured some of my startups. I would have conversations with the other court team members, and they would, maybe I’m passionately arguing for a certain position which I didn’t win. I would go out with that meeting and immediately my team would converge on me and ask me, “Did we get it? Did we get whatever we wanted?”

And I had to basically turn back the arguments that had just been used against me on them because it was important that externally I show cohesion with my team which is internally was fine for me to show the cent. And that’s what the Beatles certainly did.

And I think lastly, every successful team has a strong supporting cast. We all like to think that we did it ourselves or the Beatles did it themselves. The reality is without Brian Epstein as their manager we would have never heard of them. Without George Martin as their producer much of the innovation that they brought into the studio would have never occurred and we may not be listening to them 30 or 40 years later.

So if you can emulate a team that you know a little bit about whether it’s the Beatles or a sports team or maybe it’s a team in fiction look at the characteristics that made that team successful and attempt to bring those into your startup.