People, Passion and Perseverance

Over the weekend, I listened to the latest ecorner podcast (Standford University Entrepreneurship Center). The speaker was Steve Case, the founder, former CEO and Chairman of America Online (AOL). He is currently the CEO of Revolution, a holding company that helps build companies. Mr. Case's spoke about three keys to be a successful entrepreneur: People, Passion and Perseverance. I believe these are not only key to entrepreneurs, but to businesses of all sizes. Here are a few of my thoughts:

People: In the book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't (affiliate link), Jim Collins points out that "leaders of companies that go from good to great start not with "where" but with "who". They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats." (You can read more here).

I remember the 1st time I read Mr. Collins 'bus' analogy. It hit me between the eyes. I was in the middle of a management, pursuing an MBA. A few years earlier, in one of my first management assignments, I feel into the trap of thinking that I could 'fix' a problem employee. I tried, but was not successful. In the end, I had to let him go. He did not belong on the bus. As is often the case, he found a job that was prefect for him.

By the time I was in this class, I had managed for a few years, but was facing a similar situation with an employee that was not meeting expectations. I am a big believer in coaching employees, but there are times where you need to face reality and recognize those that do not belong on the bus, as well as those that are in the wrong seat. It is not fair to ignore the problem: it is not fair for the organization as a whole, other team members and the employee. Deal with it. 

We often say that the most important asset for any company is people. The reality is the most important asset is 'the right people'. People will make or break your team and your company.  Get the right people in the right seats: that can make a big difference. It can be the difference between success and failure for your venture.

Passion:  While I was in the gym today, I listed to a another ecorner podcast (I am a little behind). The speaker was William Hagstrom, CEO of Cresendo Bioscience. He spoke of an experience that occurred when he was working for a large corporation where he ran a large $1B division of a $6B company.  He was attending a meeting with a group of sales executives. As part of the discussion, Mr. Hagstrom expended a great deal of energy trying to persuade the leadership team that they need to move in a different direction. During the next break, one of the participants commented to Mr Hagstrom, "It's just a job, it's not a crusade." This turned out to be an important moment for Mr Hagstrom. It changed the direction of is life and career.

How do you feel about your 'work'? Is it just a 'job'?  I can recognize passionate in a few minutes. Passionate people are infectious. They tend to energize a team. They care, but more than care, they are energized and engaged. To them it is not a job, it is a crusade. 

If you want to be successful, do the stuff that you are passionate about and hire passionate people. Start a crusade.

Perseverance: Newt Gingrich was reported to have said, "Perseverance is the hard work you do have you get tired of doing the work you already did." Starting a new venture, running a business, being a parent ... it all takes effort. If you want to generate long-term results, you will have to persevere. You have to endure.

Note: Had I written this a few years ago, I would have said that you should 'never give up'. There is a difference between 'giving up' and 'moving on'. I recommend reading Chris Brogan comments: Never Give UP- No, Give Up. Even better, after your read his blog post on this, read Seth Godin's book,  The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) (affiliate link). Both offer some excellent advice. 

In conclusion, if you want to be successful in your endeavors, remember these keys: People, passion and perseverance. 

Your comments welcome!