Profile of a Business Incubator Specialist

Profile of a Business Incubator Specialist

My first contact with Hyatt Saikin was a little unusual. He didn’t come to me. I went to him for a type of deep massage called Rolfing.

He did an excellent job, but mentioned that Rolfing, or much else didn’t challenge him, any more. He had gone into Rolfing because his wife was attending the Rolf Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and he had nothing to do.

He had been Rolfed, found it beneficial, and had some money in his pocket after recently having sold a business, so he decided to take Rolfer training.

Most of his life he had been a very successful salesman. In 1976, he was hired by MCI as a salesman who could not only explain the program, but also convince business people that saving substantial sums of money on phone calls was both legal and possible.

In 1979, he got a job selling software services and was so successful that within the year he moved from Washington, DC, to Toronto as half owner of a new company that became profitable in just six months.

Hyatt stayed with the company for three years, making more and more money. However, because he was bored and unhappy, “it was awful.” The company was ultimately sold for millions of dollars.

He helped start a bottled water company, which also sold for millions of dollars after he left the company.

In 1989, he came up with the idea of holding a public seminar about Rolfing, which was an instant hit. He also realized that Rolfing wasn’t his life’s work, but he enjoyed the promotional part.

As Hyatt went through his life story with me, I saw a pattern emerging. He did very well as a salesman, but he was misplaced. Not a lot, but enough to take most of the fun out of life. He was meant to be a promoter, not a salesman.

There’s a difference between promoting and selling. The emphasis on promoting is to get people to try a new product or service. The goal in selling is to close the sale.

Frequently people say someone has “the gift of the gab” and that they should go into sales. However, sometimes they miss the mark because they don’t understand these are two distinct talents.

Unfortunately if the person follows that advice it may lead them down the wrong path. Hyatt was forever going into sales, doing well monetarily, and always ending up dissatisfied.

Closing a sale wasn’t his motivation. The magic was in persuading somebody to try something new, whether a product or a service. He’s happiest when he influences someone to sample his latest product or venture.

That intrinsic talent is very important during the initiation stage of a new business when it is trying to get a foothold in the market place. As soon as the business matures and the emphasis is on maintaining systems, procedures and structures, Hyatt’s interest and motivation peters out.

This isn’t unusual. However, if you don’t know that about yourself, you can be stuck in the wrong job. Most jobs exist in mature companies.

Hyatt will never fit into an organization. When I told him, the light went on. He understood why so many things had happened in his life. As an example, the reason he hadn’t received recognition for many things he had done was that he made it look so easy, other people thought he hadn’t done anything.

Hyatt works best without a lot of structure. He needs to be free to determine how to get the job done without a lot of ground rules and established precedents as to how to proceed. He prefers not having any directive authority breathing down his neck.

He likes to have someone show him what to do and what’s expected of him, then leave him alone so he can roll up his sleeves and get on with the job.

Some people can understand that they’re in the ballpark, but in the wrong position. They can go back to their supervisors and say, “This is what I’m really about, is there a fit for me in the company? I’m better suited to first base than second.”

In Hyatt’s case, he decided to carve out his own niche as a freelance promoter. He’s promoted a game, an investment fund, a book, a singles club, a seminar with my co-author Nick Isenberg on How to Get into the News, and me. You are the fruit of his labor, talent and expertise. If you are reading this column, Hyatt touched you. It was his idea and he did all the work necessary to get it going and make it a success.

Hyatt is still Rolfing, but with a less hectic appointment schedule that allows just the right amount of time for relaxing and for a break. However, he’d much rather promote Rolfing, than do it.