Openness and Transparency – I believe that its better to err on the side of sharing information. Trust that those around you are mature enough to handle the entirety of any situation. You’d be surprised at a) how much trust it engenders in your organization, and b) how people will rise to the occasion and act like the mature individuals that you are treating them as when you trust them with information. This takes exceptionally high levels of personal self-confidence (I don’t always succeed!) but throughout my career, it has created outstanding levels of communication and trust. Houses of cards will fall… so it’s better to just be frank, direct, and open with your communications and let people make the right decisions for themselves.
Hard is Good – This is something I remind myself of with some regularity, especially in the new found rigors of the CEO role. The harder a task is, the more it refines you as a human…. I like to think of life as a crucible, and our experiences burn away the impurities held within. The hotter the heat, the more pure the substance left behind. Seek the hard stuff… “hard is good.”
Live, Love, Learn, Leave a Legacy – I picked up this nugget from Steven Covey’s work. It’s basically Maslow’s Hierarchy, but it’s a great window into human motivation and behavior. We all have a very specific order in which we process stimuli and prioritize our behavioral responses. The very first layer is “live.” We will all fight like hell, first for air, then for water, then for food… by extension for job and security. Assuming you have these things, the next layer is “love”… we are social creatures, we humans. We need to be and feel accepted by our community. Once you have that feeling of acceptance and love, you start broadening out a bit. As cognitive creatures, we naturally begin seeking expansion of our most cherished capability… that of thinking and reason. One might suggest that this could be substituted by “experience” but you lose the alliteration. 😉 Finally, once all of these have been fulfilled, humans start seeking what Maslow calls “self actualization,” and what Covey refers to as “Legacy.” We want to know that our time on this earth has mattered, even when we’re gone… that we will be remembered, and positively. I think it is crucial for all of us to constantly think of our legacy… Ask yourself as you go through your day, or as you interact with those around you… “how do I want to be remembered?” Let your legacy guide your actions. I’d further assert that the best among us will sacrifice the other things (life, love, learning) for our legacy… it’s where we get our heroes and saints.
Ask… The Worst They Can Say is “No” – I learned this from my mother, who verbalized it to me voraciously as she raised me, and by watching my father, who was often times socially clueless (but dearly loved). Whether you ask for things that most people think can’t be granted, either by decision or by cluelessness, you’d be amazed at what people will say yes to.
Try Honestly to See Things from the Other Person’s Point of View – This is from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. It’s hard to do, but I’ve found, throughout my career, that when I’m capable of suppressing that all-too-natural human emotion of wanting to state my point of view, and I work hard at understanding what the other person is thinking and feeling, that the doors to true human interaction truly open. Not perfect at this skillset… but it is powerful when I manage to do it.
Everyone is Happy When the Money is Rolling – In my first 10k hours in sales management, this primarily meant deal flow. It was amazing how powerfully this simple edict played out. Life is good when you get the engine figured out and reps are making quota and bonuses. Life is bad when they are not. Now that I’m in the CEO role, the story is the same, but it has several more layers… top line revenue is still crucial, but now keeping that revenue (churn), mitigating cost of goods (gross margin), and reducing operating expenses (profit) all matter. Get that recipe figured out, and life is really, really good. Fail that high standard, and there are a lot of sleepless nights. Grotech has a sign hanging in their office that reads “Happiness is Free Cash Flow.” Damn right.
When You Get to Yes, Stop Selling – I learned this lesson early in my career. It is a natural human tendency to want to keep explaining why whatever it is you are advocating for is good and right and important. The problem is that once someone has gotten to “yes” and agrees with you, from that point on, the only possible thing you can accomplish is to create an objection. You’re not going to get “more yes.” So, “when you get to yes, stop selling!”