It’s Impossible to Succeed on Talent Alone

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By Ofer Prossner
VP, Operations, IOD
Let me tell you about something I like even more than my job as VP, Operations at IOD: Football (some of you might know it as “soccer”).
I reside in Berlin, where the biggest football team is FC Bayern Munich, who this week fired their coach, famed Italian Carlo Ancelotti.
Football is a big business, and not many teams are bigger than the Bavarian Giants, who have countless stars, numerous fans, and a packed trophy room. Some would say that a team of such talented players does not need a coach to guide it. And perhaps this is so since although Ancelotti won the German championship four months ago, he’s now out.

Every Team Needs a Coach

I thought about Ancelotti when talking with one of IOD’s customers. Each month, we supply this customer with up to 16 articles, but aside from us, there are 12 independent freelancers who also supply him with content.
“Handling freelancers is a handful,” he told me. I looked at him, smiled, and said, “I know what you mean.” Managing talent is not simple.
This is the reason football team owners hire coaches. As it relates to football players, managing the team means ongoingly evaluating skills, deciding who to play and who not to, as well as a continual monitoring of egos and in-fighting.
Football stars or freelancers, every team needs a coach. It’s impossible to succeed on talent alone.
It took me time to realize this about our team of freelancers; that like even the best football players — our highly qualified and professional freelancers need some coaching, whether it’s through training, guidance on how to navigate a structured process, or being mentored on English grammar by a good editor. Not only that, our freelancers, like football player on a team, are fueled by the positive feedback of a supportive ecosystem.
To refer to the football analogy one last time (for now): Even the biggest star must learn to work as part of a team, because football is a team game, and you can be the best striker in the world, but if you don’t have a midfield to provide you with scoring opportunities, there will be no goals.

You Could Do It Alone, But Why Would You?

Our customers could probably hire and manage freelancers alone. Many have told us stories about how they’ve tried. They’ve also told us about how they’ve tried to encourage their in-house developers to write blogs. They’ve tried, too, to conduct their own research on the topics they would like to write about, and then hired a writer to pull the research together into a report. But, what we hear time and again from our customers is that even if this succeeds once or twice, managing the multiple streams of talent is exhausting and difficult and whole job in and of itself. Furthermore, once a company wants to scale up, this responsibility becomes more than just a headache. It seems near impossible.
The customer I mentioned above told me: “You save me a whole lot of headache.” This “headache” he was referring to is the minutiae and overhead of day-to-day operations required to brainstorm topics, create an editorial calendar, assign and hire freelancers, and then manage the quality of the content until completion.
Football coaches are hired, before the championships and season ticket sales, to relieve a pain: That of turning a lot of individuals into a cohesive, high-performing team, united and trained. IOD does the same: We find, qualify, and train experts to produce quality content.
As a former sports journalist and as a football fanatic, I wouldn’t buy a ticket to sit in the stadium and watch a bunch of IOD experts play football. That’s just nonsense. But let them create an article, and you’ll see a beautiful teamwork, a highly coached team which helps our customers reach their GGGOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLLL. (See what I did there? Promise it’s the last of this analogy, mainly because this blog post is over).


Do you want to join our IOD team of freelancers? I promise. I don’t bite. Hit me up with an email for more info.

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