I started reading “Like A Virgin – Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School” by entrepreneur giant Richard Branson.
I’m reading the chapter, “Business Philosophy – Five quick questions.” Here are my answers to those questions based on personal experience.
1. Name the best piece of advice you ever received?
During my teens, I must have been going through a difficult time when Mom turned to me and said “Steven, turn the page. Move on to the next chapter.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve either put her words into action or shared her wisdom with others.
The second piece of advice I read in Paul Johnson’s biography of Winston Churchill. A 17 year old Johnson got to meet Churchill in 1946 and asked him what he attributed to his success. He replied: “Conservation of energy. Never stand up when you can sit down. Never sit down when you can lie down.” The Prime Minister then hopped into his limo.
2. What’s the worst advice?
Someone convinced me to make my first investment in a stock. I was reasonably assured by the adviser this was a sure bet that had huge upside potential. “Almost as easy as shooting fish in a barrel” I recall him saying. I swallowed the stock tip hook, line, and sinker. The equity tanked.
I experienced the proverbial valuable lesson. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
3. What advice would you give someone starting a business?
You’ve got to love what you’re doing or don’t do it at all. If I have a choice of doing business with one person or another, I’ll choose the one that’s crazy about what they do. If you’re excited about your product or service, the customer will feel the same and become a raving fan. Exuberance is infectious.
You’re going to face tough times when the business is challenged by factors in and out of your control. The chances of weathering the storm and seeing things through are better if you love the business.
4. What have you learned from your failures?
Earlier in my career, I worried too much about perfection instead of picking a direction. I’d take too much time making a decision. My behavioral style was geared towards getting it right the first time.
Over the last 10 years, I’ve learned to go with my intuition and hope for the best. Those times when I didn’t make the right move, I learned from my mistake and moved on to the next chapter.
I ask clients to celebrate their wins along the way. The same goes for your mistakes.
5. What are your regrets?
My biggest regret was not getting into the “people business” over 30 years ago. I took a course in Industrial Psychology which lit me up. I absolutely loved the material and wanted to make it a career. I asked a management professor if he thought it was a good idea. He talked me out of it. (On second thought, this was the worst piece of advice I ever received.)
Pick one or two questions from the list and share your answers below.