Tag Archives: philantrophy

“What’s your strength?”

I asked….and they didn’t know. I was a bit saddened by that. They looked so lost.

I asked them what their strength was; 29 out of 58 wasn’t able to write down anything on the paper in front of them. Just a sad face in the space where their strength was supposed to be.

A room full of young people, 85% had already told me they didn’t know what they wanted to do, or be, or dream of. A few were clear: focused goals and a plan of how to get there….but the majority looked like deer in headlight; “Oh no, will this be another grown-up telling me what I should do..?”

So I told them. Loud and clear, I let them know that I wasn’t going to tell them a single thing about what to do with their lives. A few looked like they were thinking I wasn’t being very helpful. That may very well be true. But I wanted to give them a bigger gift than that.

I wanted to give them a tool to figure it out for themselves.

So we spent an hour together, talking about two major things:

  1. Body language. How to figure out what someone is saying when they are not using just their words. And, perhaps more importantly, how to communicate back and forth on that level.
  2. Strengths. Not weaknesses. Not fixing “what you have to be better at”. I told them to stop wasting their time, because trying to fix your weaknesses is fighting nature. Make sure your weaknesses isn’t putting barriers up for you, but don’t strive to be better than someone else in an area of weakness. Focus on your strengths: Find them, hone them, practice them.

Show off your strengths. Wear them like a badge of honour, a crown on your head, a halo of skill leading your way.

And then we talked about how. And we practiced, because if you don’t know what your skill IS, how are you going to know how to do all that?

More about that later. Sign up to get a notice when I spend time to develop that part of the conversation.

Winning, Losing and Doing Good

I have read about several entrepreneurs recently who focus completely on the ‘social good’ of their business, as opposed to the ‘old-school’ ambition of making money. I am a huge advocate of social enterprise, charity and philanthropy, and spend a lot of my time and assets to support those activities — but that simply wouldn’t have been possible without the successes I’ve had in the ‘for profit’ world that have given me the flexibility and freedom to do what I believe in.

There’s no doubt that many young entrepreneurs coming into today’s world are very socially minded. It’s hard not to be when the internet and our media constantly show us — often graphically — the challenges our society faces.

Leading with purpose

If you’re a business leader, the passion that created the spark that ignited your career is something you can bring with you into your entire company culture. Apple is a great example: The essence of Steve Jobs’ vision for technology resonates with every single person in that organisation, and guides decisions on a daily basis.

To create that, you have to be able to paint a picture of your vision and you have to be able to describe it and share it with your team in a way that not only makes them understand but makes them feel what you mean. Your job is to give your team purpose, getting everyone on the same page. You have to make sure your entire team knows where they’re going, how they’re going to get there, and what’s in it for them.

Building Success

I am lucky to have had great successes — during my career, I have taken both new and old brands to market leadership, turned mediocre individuals into high performing stars and built successful teams from broken groups of disjoined people. In the last three years I have started two award winning companies, and I currently employ 10 people in two fast growing organisations. When people ask me what my secret is, I tell them:  “You must surround yourself with great people, and as you grow, never forget why you do what you do.”

You must demonstrate your purpose with encouragement, honesty, recognition, and courage… Building a great team is what business is all about. The team with the best players working together wins. This great team will drive growth, and growth is like an elixir. It’s exciting, it creates more and more growth, and it’s a LOT of fun. Business is fun… like chess. It is deliberate, clever, strategic and merciless. You’re playing against others, and you want to win!

Winning

And ultimately, that’s what it comes down to. If you’re winning, you can give back — to your family, your employees, institutions of your choice and your local communities… If you’re losing, your pockets are empty and nobody gets helped. I play to win, but ultimately, I win to help.