Recently, I had the honor of speaking at the September, 2011 luncheon of the National Capital Region Entrepreneur’s Club. It’s a group of terrific business leaders from the DMV region.
Our host, Ingar Grev, asked me to tell my story, talk about some successes, some failures, and key learnings. Ingar is a US Naval Academy grad with MS and MBA degrees from Maryland. As fit today as he was 25 years ago when he was a star D-lineman for NAVY, Ingar is an entrepreneur, technology expert, connector, and CEO/executive coach known as The Growth Coach.
He was also nice enough to write about my presentation in his Washington Business Journal blog post. At the conclusion of my remarks, I listed 5 things I had learned in my experience as an entrepreneur, CEO and investor. Here are the 5 Key Learnings I shared with the group:
1. Do the right thing always. It can be expensive to take the high road, and it takes courage, but at the end of the day, your reputation is all you really have. High integrity is impossible to fake, and integrity is a real magnet for other Winners and for success in general.
2. Build relationships. You can’t win without great partners, clients, and teammates. Success is all about creating, building, and nurturing relationships. I am not talking about quantity, but rather QUALITY of relationships. People want to do business with people they know, like, and trust. The old adage about “It’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know” is true.
3. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever give up. The great football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “The Green Bay Packers never lost a football game. They just ran out of time.” Luckily in business, there is no time clock! Winning in business is about having staying power (capital, stamina, confidence, persistence) In my case, my company CyberRep lost our largest client twice and faced extreme business challenges both times. If we didn’t have confidence and persistence, we would have never replaced the lost business and grown our company. We never gave up, and would up with a great outcome.
4. Think BIG. Over the years, we set grand plans for ourselves and somehow managed to hit quite a few of them. My philosophy is that if you’re going to think, you may as well think big. Set your goals realistically but high. Stretch yourself. I know many people, including my partners and me, who have surprised themselves with what they were able to accomplish. Your organizations will rally around and get excited by big plans and big goals, so go ahead and shoot for the moon. If you fall short, you still will have made good progress.
5. Greatness is defined by Consistency. Great performers are able to produce day in and day out on a consistent basis. Great companies deliver for their clients and customers consistently. The challenge is figuring out how to get your organizations to do fantastic work over and over again. If you can do it, then congratulations, your company is on its way to being “great.”
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Featured image courtesy of woodleywonderworks licensed via creative commons.