The 3 Success Secrets Every Entrepreneur Needs To Follow
Learning how to communicate through active listening, complete writing and constructive ideas is the key to success for every entrepreneur.
Before passing away in 2019, Professor Patrick Winston, a respected computer science professor at MIT, focused on developing AI systems with human-like intelligence, requiring him to understand how humans communicate, tell, perceive, and understand "stories." Winston believed and counseled his students that their "success in life would be determined largely by their ability to speak, their ability to write, and the quality of their ideas."
A story is a factual or fantasied account of incidents from man's first association with other humans. Stories are powerful because they engage our emotions and create a sense of connection. Business leaders can use accounts to build familiarity and trust. Stories facilitate learning, appealing to visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners alike.
The necessity of good communication
The quality of your ideas is essential. Even more important is being able to communicate those ideas effectively. Building the capability to share your ideas impactfully is critical to your success.
Warren Buffett believes that "what's essential is getting others to follow your ideas. If you're a management leader, you want them to follow you in business. If you can't communicate, it's like winking at a girl in the dark—nothing happens. You have to be able to put forward your ideas."
Based on Winston's ideas, here are three communication secrets for success. Practicing and mastering these tools will make you a great communicator and a successful entrepreneur.
1. The ability to speak
Becoming a great orator is not the same as speaking effectively. Oration is more performance art than effective communication, though everyone can benefit from vocabulary, elocution and voice modulation skills. Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address was eloquent but no more than Truman's statement, "The buck stops here." Franklin D. Roosevelt's fireside chats and Winston Churchill's World War II speeches effectively connected with their listeners with plain language and empathy.
Becoming an effective speaker is not difficult but requires effort and practice. The fear of public speaking affects up to three-quarters of the population but can be managed through training and experience. Many business leaders overcome their fear through participation in local public speaking. Some of the world's best public speakers initially feared public speaking.
Justin Bariso, author of EQ Applied: The Real-World Guide to Emotional Intelligence, recommends tips to improve your speaking skills, including:
- Listening before you speak. Influential leaders know when they need to talk and, more importantly, when to listen. Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin-affiliated businesses, claims that "being a good listener is absolutely critical to being a good leader; you have to listen to the people on the front line."
- Consider your audience's knowledge of the subject. Warren Buffett's conversation with a group of analysts is vastly different than a high school teacher explaining how to parse sentences to a class of sophomores. Misunderstanding your audience leads to boredom or total confusion.
- Be excited. Enthusiasm is contagious. Believing in the value of your subject and its value to others encourages listener interest. If a topic does not interest you, others will stop listening.
- Slow down to read listener reaction. The point of a conversation or speech is engagement and understanding. Good communicators constantly monitor audience reaction through facial features, posture and movement. Disinterest builds over time. Getting a listener back is more manageable when inattention initially appears.
Related: Oh, Shut Up and Listen Already
2. The ability to write
In today's business environment, few people realize that their first impression is likely to be a written message of some type, whether a resume, a memo, a posting on a social network or a letter. Even tweets evoke reader impressions about the writer. Mistakes of grammar, misspelling and punctuation typically sway one's perception.
Writing well is more than mastery of vocabulary, structure and syntax. Good writing is the ability to convey a thought clearly and succinctly, so the reader is naturally transported from one idea to the next without confusion or discomfort. Speech is typically impromptu and subject to pauses and misunderstanding. Composing a written piece is slower and more deliberate, giving the authors time to reflect, reconsider and edit content before exposure to third parties.
Well-written communication educates, illuminates and motivates reaction. Good writing does not require complex, compound sentences or multi-syllable words to be effective. Good writing aims to guide the reader effortlessly through its content to accomplish the writer's objectives.
The best way to improve one's writing skills is through consistent reading and writing.
3. The quality of your ideas
Winston notes that the ability to generate high-quality ideas begins with consuming high-quality ideas. Learn by studying great thinkers and the leaders of industry and capital. Consider their experiences and why they succeeded or failed. Spend time creatively thinking — what some people call "brainstorming" or "thinking outside the box" — and transfer your thoughts and conclusions into writing for further review and reflection.
Don't make the mistake of trying to "multitask," as research has proven it to be a flawed concept. Set aside the time to relax and focus on problems. Recognize that solutions rarely appear on demand, so do not be discouraged or surprised by failure.
Humans learn by failing. As Isaac Newton said in his famous statement: "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Be open to new ideas and perspectives. Serendipity, what some call "good luck," often occurs by tweaking old ideas.
My final thought is that success is a fluid and long-term pursuit. Developing your abilities to speak, write and think more effectively improves your likelihood of reaching your life objectives.
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