Shaan Puri revisits EPAI

How to find people who balance your strengths, and bridge your weaknesses.

"EPAI" stands for Entrepreneur, Producer, Administrator, Integrator - a perfect mix of personalities to start and run a successful company.

The framework, initially coined by Bill Gross, has not resonated with me.

Well, until I heard Shaan's explanation. It's so good that I feel compelled to surface it from the episode and share it.

The story goes as follows:

You're sitting in a classroom. One kid looks out the window, sees the grass outside and says

You know what, there should be a parking lot out there! We all come to school every day and parking is such a hassle, we should build it, it should be 6 story high, we should build a parking lot there.

This guy is a pure E. The idea machine, the person who comes up with the vision and sees the pain points that can be solved.

E may not be the best person to execute it though. Coming up with an idea and following through are often very hard to accomplish by the same individual (but you can easily find lots of examples where this statement seems untrue).

Here comes the P - Producer

Great Idea! Let's do it! Oh btw, 6 floors? No, no, what it should be is 2 different structures...

Producers are good at downloading the vision. They take words and turn them into action. They provide input, create the masterplan and execute.

But that's still not enough to take success for granted.

Now, there's that third guy that says

Okay, great, we have a vision, we have the production plan, we have 6 employees - someone needs to feed these people, take care of payroll, write down the plan - we gotta get organized here!

The Administrator is someone who seeks order in chaos.

"A" sees the high volumes of different actions and tries to turn them into repeatable processes and playbooks.

Maybe they don't envision new products nor create them - but companies can't scale without a good Administrator in their executive board.

It seems like we got everything we need, so who is this "I" person?

That guy hasn't even looked out the window to see the place for the parking lot.

He would just stare at the three other people and say

You guys need to learn how to work together.

Integrators are amazing people capable of figuring out how to make groups cohesive, how to get alignment within the team.

Quick example:

When Administrator says

Hey, let's write things down!

Integrator chimes in

Let's make sure it's clear to everybody, here's the way we should communicate it....

That's it.

That intuition helped me a lot to understand my position in our company. Also, I internalized many mistakes I've done by blaming people of not doing things they're not built for.

I hope you find it helpful too.

Again, a big shout out to Shaan Puri and MFM podcast. What you just read above is a mix of my manual transcription efforts and own interpretations.

Thanks for reading!


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You can find me on Twitter - It’s @dcedrych