You Can’t Hug Every Cat

This hilarious video has been viewed over 21 million times.  As a young lady records her first dating video for eHarmony, she gets a bit, well, distracted:


As if that didn’t make you laugh hard enough, the Songify folks then made an even funnier auto-tune song from the video. That video has been viewed nearly 17 million times:


To top it all off, the CEO of an incredibly cool company extracted some real business value between the bursts of laughter.  Tyler Paxton, CEO of Detroit-based Are You A Human (full disclosure: I’m an investor), showed up the other day wearing a T-shirt proudly proclaiming “You can’t hug every cat.”  It turns out that Tyler and The Humans (as they are affectionately called) embraced this funny term to help them drive their hyper-growth startup.  Here’s how:

1. Hug Your Own Cat – Each person at the company can’t do everything.  If Tyler tried to do Reid’s job and do a little bit of Ben’s job too, nothing would get done.  The Humans know that each person (and team) has specific outcomes they’re responsible for delivering.  One can’t do everything all at once and expect strong results.

2. Trust Your Fellow Cats – If one leader is busy on a project (ie, “hugging a cat”), he has to trust that his co-founders are doing a great job on their own projects.  Tyler’s T-shirt reinforces that each person is accountable for his or her own areas and that company leaders must extend trust.  In a startup, no one has time to look over shoulders.  Organizations that lack trust can’t operate in warp speed.

3. Hug Fewer Cats – Whichever path you may be on, there will certainly be an endless string of distractions.  There’s always some new, shiny opportunity to lure you away and take your eye off the prize.  Knowing that you “can’t hug every cat” highlights the need to only pick a small number of truly critical focus areas, and attack with laser-beam focus.  Try to do everything, and you’ll end up with nothing.

We can all learn from serious business periodicals and thought-leader blogs, but we also garner tremendous insight from the silly things in life.  The simple t-shirts worn by The Humans reinforce key cultural messages in a compelling and memorable way — and with much more impact than some bland mission statement filled with hollow platitudes.

Knowing that you can’t hug every cat, how will you focus your energy to achieve your full potential?  Hugging every feline leaves you with nothing but a giant hairball.