An A-Player is not a person who went to Harvard, I echo Auren Hoffman's sentiment. Still according to Hoffman, an 'A-Player' by definition is incredibly productive and smart and has that 'it', that rockstar-esque factor that makes everyone want to work with her.
Ben Zander talked about the concept of leading from any chair - he's contagious in his enthusiasm and love for being present to what he does. Building on that post at The Blog Herald, I wrote about marketing lessons we can draw from his body of work. They can also be applied to the characteristics that distinguish A-Players:
1. Know that it's all invented - inventors, creators, incredibly productive people do not stop at one way of looking at things. They are constantly seeing possibility, renewal, betterment, learning, activity everywhere they go. And they end up finding a new way or may of doing things. Or as Guy Kawasaki would say, they know the art of the start.
2. Stop measuring everything - breakthroughs are hardly ever incremental. Instead, they are leaps. People who create believe in themselves, they express their skill with passion and joy. People are attracted to them. Their life does not depend on hitting the jackpot all the time and they are more open to connections, which in turn create success. One last word on measurement - learn to measure the right things.
3. Be a contribution - people who are curious, interested, and think they can learn from anyone actually end up doing so. They figure out how to be of service and develop positive and productive behavior that in turn creates abundance in their lives.
In other words, a true A-Player is not arrogant and self-centered. A true A-Player is someone who has the right attitude when it comes to team and has a lot of implicit good karma from activities outside their day job. They derive satisfaction and even job security from their own skills and abilities.
In addition to the points above, how do you become an A-Player?
4. Work on improving your skills constantly - learning by trial and error doesn't mean that you always have to run lots of risks, but you need to be open to failing. Many in the comments to Hoffman's post agree that past performance is not a guarantee of future results.
5. Think "can do" as a default - this should be a no-brainer but it isn't so much. A-Player is in your mind, it's not in the minds of others. When you think you can do what you set out to do, then you can deal with whatever it is that comes your way. In other words, you learn to be situational in your approach.
Notice that there is no mention of Twitter counts, or any friends count in this post. Money is also a tricky concept with A-Players - abundance is not just expressed in cash. It's expressed in authenticity and honesty, which in turn earns trust.
Take for example my mother [in the photo with a singer], she is an A-Player, yet she never lived in a castle. Quite the opposite. She's worked hard her whole life, she still does. That's the same ethic I seem to have inherited - thank Heavens (actually her) for that.
Some questions for you. Does an A-Player need to have great Google juice today? How about referrals from their network? Do A-Players get implicit credibility? Can companies also be A-Players? What about brands? Do you have a definition of A-Player?