Eliminate betrayals with PANDAS

Before we start today, I want you to imagine of one of the following:

  • Your big dream.
  • A big project to accomplish.
  • Building a large empire.
  • Making a wave on the world.
  • Doing anything significantly large.

Do you imagine doing it yourself? I doubt it, you’re going to need a great team. You will need a great co-founder(s), you will need great business partners, and you will need great suppliers. But where do you find these “great” people and what does “great” even look like?

In the gift of betrayal part 1 and the gift of betrayal part 2 we shared how a betrayal from a business partner, a colleague, a close family member is actually a gift. Although many betrayals are gifts, they are hard to go through.

These gifts put us through an emotional wringer which can set us back weeks, months or even years just trying to get over the emotional damage.

So we want to minimise as much as possible any kind of betrayal ever occurring. Today it is rare for me to be deliberately sabotaged by a team member.  Over time, I have worked out the kinds of people who are and in all likelihood will always be awesome people.

Achieving your dreams is tough enough without people deliberately sabotaging your journey.  Most of us are perfectly capable of messing up without the help of anyone.

So now that I’m a bit older, wiser and experienced, I’d like to share some of the attributes that myself and other business people look for in potential people we are likely to partner with for any significant project.  Whether that project is teaming up to help you achieve your dream, run a business or reach an impossible goal.

What are PANDAS?

PANDAS, success, wealth
Image Credit: Wikipedia

In this article, I’d like to share with you what to look for in great people. Now by the word “great” we mean people who help and support you with your dreams and goals. People who are encouraging, supportive, loyal and reliable.

These characteristics should be paramount in any team, and prioritised over some super fab skill. I would rather have a person who is above average in a skill, than someone who is a superstar but does not have any of the personality traits of the PANDAS.

PANDAS are skilled people with a specific set of characteristics that are essential for the growth of any business. PANDAS are difficult to find especially if you do not know what you are looking for.

Once you know what PANDAS are, you will be able to find them either in your life or in meet-ups such as ones for entrepreneurs, business owners or investor meet-ups.

PANDAS is an acronym for the characteristics you need to evaluate in a person before deciding on whether you want to work with them in any capacity.

The PANDAS acronym was shared with a group of entrepreneurs by Sarah Wood, co-founder of Unruly Media at an interview at Startup Grind London. I hope Sarah does not mind my using her acronym as a framework for this article.  Here are what the letters stand for.

Pandas: Passionate

wealth, success, passionate

Your business partner needs to be passionate about the business. Passion is so important in any endeavour. Passionate people are enthusiastic, interested and constantly dreaming up new ideas. They are consumed with any endeavour they decide to engage in.

Passion translates to enthusiasm. Enthusiasm translates into a reason for waking up in the morning.

You do not want to be running a business with someone, no matter how skilled, or how accomplished, who is not enthusiastic about the business.

A person who is passionate about the business

  • Will understand the value they are delivering to their customers
  • Are less impacted by the business’ journey mistakes and errors
  • Are willing to test and trial business concepts until they can find what works for their business
  • Have fewer hang-ups about what other people think because they are following their passion
  • Are less likely to suffer from depression and worry
  • Has a greater can do attitude than someone who is not passion about the business

How do you find a person who is passionate about what they do? Look for people who talk enthusiastically about everything they do. Passionate people are more interested in getting feedback than the health of their ego.

This is especially true when the feedback will help them deliver more value. Passionate people are less likely to surrender in the hard times so look at how long they have been active in their various pursuits.

pAndas: Attitude

property, real estate, thumbs up
Image Credit: Anthony Kelly

If you know and have worked with someone and are considering whether to go into a business, joint venture or any kind of partnership with them, then you want them to have a good attitude.

It is draining having to work with people who constantly moan and complain about people and situations. It is so frustrating and wearing to have to deal with people who are constantly stressed over every little thing that goes wrong and, believe me, things will go wrong.

You don’t want to be in partnership with someone who uses manipulation, guilt and peer pressure to get their way or someone who is constantly creating dramas over little things.

By a good attitude, we mean business partners who are supportive and enabling. Having a passionate, cheerful, abundant mentality, can do attitude in a partner is infectious.

You don’t want a business partner who moans and complains about how awful situations are. You want a partner that can embrace the awfulness of a situation and dream up ways to overcome and transform a problem situation.

On a side note, people often misunderstand and think that we are writing about a positive person.

Today the word positive has become devalued and tends to mean someone who always talks good about everything. Frankly, these people usually end up depressed later on in lives.

A positive person is able to see a person or situation for who and what they are and then take steps to transform a troublesome and problem situation into something beautiful.

Sometimes the steps to transformation may just be to move away from the troublesome situation such as a horrible neighbour, but today’s “positive” person would not even be able to conceive that someone is horrible.

I would much rather be with a realist than someone who is repressed through their concept of positivity. The reason is that the new age positive person would find it difficult to come up with viable solutions as they don’t see a problem in the first place.

How do you find a person with a good attitude? Look at their behaviour and how they deal with life problems. Listen to the words that come out of their mouths when discussing others. Check if their words match their actions. Think about how authentic they are as opposed to how positive their words are.

paNdas: No ego

no ego, funny, wealth

Ego is a biggy which we mentioned in the seven deadly sins of property investors. One big reason why partnerships fail and businesses break up or businesses become constrained is because of ego.

Everyone has an ego, but in business there is no room for it. So if a potential partner cannot keep their ego in check, you should not consider doing any kind of venture with them. Here are the signs of someone with an ego.

  1. They need to win in conversations all the time:
    • They don’t build on what someone else has offered
    • They tell people how terrible their ideas are compared to their own
    • They think a win-win deal is that they get 80% while a partner gets 20% even though their partner is doing all the work
  2. They need to give all the time and refuse to accept any kind of help….ever:
    • You can be sure that there will be business situations that they will deal with on their own. You will never know about the difficult situation because they believe they can deal with every situation and do not need help.
    • They make you feel as if you cannot contribute and you feel obligated to them
  3. They constantly brag:
    • The tell their friends about the great holidays they have, the restaurants they dine in, the cars and prestigious events they sponsor
    • But constantly tell employees there is no money for a raise or they refuse to lend to anyone because “they have no money.”
  4. They do not feel the need to get educated
    • According to some, both Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, currently two of the richest men on this planet, were once asked if they could have any super power on this planet what would that super power be. Both men allegedly said that they would love to have a superpower that would allow them to read faster.
    • If Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are humble enough to want a super power to learn more – a sure sign of ego is a person who feels they know everything and refuse to educate themselves further.

People with huge egos may make good friends to go out with but are terrible business partners to work with. People with huge egos will need to earn the most for the least amount of value just to feed their ego, or conversely will make you feel constantly guilty – so avoid them in business or any kind of intimate relationship.

panDas: Determined

competition, success, friendship

We hardly ever see the word determined used in business. Here are some synonyms for the word:

Examine actions not words
PANDAS examine a person’s action’s not their words

Who would not want to have a business partner with the qualities of a determined person? Good businesses partners have the same amount of determination to make things work as you do.

They will sacrifice a lot and do what needs to be done to make the business successful. The last thing you want is to work with people who quit at the slightest difficulty or obstacle.

Even if you have a business blueprint (such as in a franchise) you will meet obstacles. These unexpected life obstacles are designed to test how committed you and your team are to your business.

If your potential business partners have commitment issues, they are less likely to be as focussed on the business as you. You can also ascertain whether you have a determined person with you by the number of courses they attended but did not complete or did not take action on.

pandAs: Agile

agile, success, business

Agility is one of the most important attitudes in today’s business partner and co-founder. Change occurs at a phenomenal rate in today’s business. Examples of the types of changes include:

  • One moment you are working in a buoyant economy, the next you are working through a recession.
  • One moment, you have an edge over all your competitors, the next moment a new mobile app has caused a recently launched business to overtake a corporate giant in weeks.
  • One moment the local laws favour certain business processes, the next moment they remove all the grants and advantages the business used to enjoy.

In order for businesses to survive and take advantage of constantly changing laws, technology, customer sentiment and many other variables, your business partners and potential co-founders need to be agile and adaptable in the way they think.

If your businesses partners cannot adapt, if they cannot be flexible, if they constantly complain about the latest changes being made to evolve your company, then it is likely that you will have constant arguments with them.

pandaS: Sociable

social, success, business

In the property world, people often ask me the secret to getting deals and investors. The secret is the same secret I have used in all areas of my life. The secret is to be sociable.

Being sociable is so important in a business partner and an attitude and skill that you should develop within yourself if you do not already have it.

Most people think being sociable is going to parties and chatting with people at events. In fact, parties and events are a small part of being sociable. In the property world, my best deals were given NOT negotiated but given to me by the sellers.

In the teaching and editorial world, by being sociable, people would inform me when dirty tactics were being used behind my back. So what are the other components of being sociable?

Love people
I genuinely love people. I don’t always have the time to have deep and meaningful conversations with everyone but people know when you are being genuine.

Talk to everyone
My close friends have seen me talk with and make friends with strangers on the underground, in shops, restaurants and on the streets. Even the security guards and cleaners at many of my customers’ offices know who I am.

Take value action
Being sociable is more than just talking and creating connections. It is about action. Action that delivers value to the other person without wanting anything in return. Some examples from my life:

  • When I’m working late at Learning Tree’s office, I often pop out to get a sandwich. As I leave the office, I often ask the security guards whether I can get them something from the shops.
  • Taking a waiter for a drink after work and educating him on how to achieve his goals.
  • Mowing the lawns and going for tea with the old lady who lived next door to me.
  • Sitting on the streets and talking to down-and-outs when everyone walks by.
  • Involving people in my crazy adventures that takes their minds out of the mundane and sometimes hard lives they are living.

I do not ask any person for anything in return. I do not ask the grandchildren of my neighbour who I’ve never met before to sell me their grandmother’s house. I do not ask them to sell me their grandmother’s house below market.

I do not ask the waiter to introduce me to the owner who has several valuable properties that he would like to sell. I do not ask the security guards to tell me about the gossip, jealous people are spreading about me.

I do not ask people to market my business for me.   All of these examples happened.  They happened naturally out of being genuinely sociable.


panda, wealth, success

To achieve your dreams, you will need people. You will need good people in your life who will support you always no matter how hard life gets for them. So look for PANDAS, people who are:-

  • Are Passionate about the business
  • Are good and supporting with their Attitude
  • Are interested in a No ego business
  • Are Determined to achieve their goals and dreams
  • Are Agile and adaptable in their approach
  • Are Sociable in their interactions with every person they meet.

I am indebted to Sarah Wood co-founder of Unruly. I first heard the PANDAS acronym at a keynote that Sarah gave at the London Startup Grind event in October 2015.  Sarah’s PANDAS acronym provided me with the framework for this article and may not contain Sarah’s exact meaning.

Ben Chai Sara Wood - Success PANDAS
I was privileged to meet one of the best PANDAS on this planet – Sarah Wood co-founder of Unruly

For more on this subject see:-

What to look for in authentic WIN-WIN partners

If you would like to learn more about achieving your life’s dreams have a look at

[Image credit: Wikipedia]



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