Passion, People, Process
The three laws for entrepreneurial success.
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After four decades in the business world, I have found that three concepts truly summarize an entrepreneur's recipe for success.
First, you must be passionate about what you deliver to your customers and clients. Nothing great in life has ever been accomplished without passion. This starts by making sure you and your team are working in your flame and not in your wax. When people are working in their flame, they are on fire. It shows in the way they act, and it shows in the way they speak about what they do. When people are working in their wax, it takes all their energy away. You can see it in the way they act and the way they speak.
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Not long ago, I had someone say to me they were training people in their company on how to do something very important. After they did the training about 10 times, they were getting bored. That worried me at first because it sounded like "training" was this person's wax. So I asked him some questions. He said he really enjoyed training, but teaching the same material over and over caused his boredom. He didn't know what to do about it.
I told him two things:
- The next time he does the training, recognize that this might be the 11th time he's done the presentation, but it is the first time that particular audience has ever heard it. I asked him to think about how excited he was when he was the one learning this content for the first time. Embrace that feeling and make sure the team feels the excitement of learning this content for the first time as well.
- Storytelling is an important part of teaching your team new ideas. Make sure to "re-live" the story – don't just "re-tell" the story. Re-living the story gives you that same excitement as when you first experienced it or heard it. It is that kind of passion that you need to apply to your business.
I saw him about a year later. He had now done the training dozens and dozens of times. He told me that my advice completely changed his approach and the people in his company who went to his training came out supercharged about the organization. It gave him great joy to see the "lights turn on" when he trained employees.
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This is what happens when you are passionate about the service you have to offer.
People are the next piece of the formula. They are the most valuable asset for virtually every company in the world. People drive the engine of a business. To me, this means at least two things:
- Constantly pour into your team. Help them improve their performance by supporting them through training and mentoring. Entrepreneurs who make sure their people receive proper mentoring are going to be more successful. We all have people in our lives that are "in our story." These are people who have given us little nuggets of help or major support in some way. These are people who helped us be a better version of ourselves. A great entrepreneur, however, recognizes that the true measure of mentorship is not who is in our story, but rather whose story are we in? Whose life have we changed in some way to help them be a better version of themselves?
- Be a culture champion. An organization's culture is the secret sauce to great companies. It is the DNA of an organization. Make sure that the core values of the business are infused into the hearts and minds of the people throughout your organization. If you have healthy organizational core values and you strive hard to share them and live them, you help to form a team of people who will be loyal to the organization's values as well. When this happens, make sure to treat that loyalty like royalty in the organization.
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Lastly, it is about process. Having good systems in place allows people to engage in their passion to deliver quality performance. Process is important. Systems are important. Here are two thoughts about process:
- While process and systems are important, it is also important to understand that you must apply the processes more like Mandela than Attila. In other words, don't be a tyrant in the application of your systems. When I was 13 years old, my mother gave me a paperweight which is still sitting on my desk to this day. It says, "Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way." She told me this was about collaboration, not manipulation. It was about working with people to help achieve success for everyone.
- Check your processes regularly. Don't be enslaved to old practices. Many times, I've seen companies create incredibly cumbersome processes that are demoralizing to people in the organization. Here, it is important that the entrepreneur listens to their team when they say that a process is complicated. Have mechanisms in place to ensure communication. I have found that having advisory bodies in place representing the people who perform the work, as well as those who receive the service, truly helps to deliver a better product. I also recommend that you go in and actually perform the process yourself to see what they see. That can truly be an enlightening experience.
Passion, people, process. If you create an organization that executes well in these three areas, you will be a force to reckon with. You will become a leader in your industry, and you will create an amazing enterprise.