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.
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!
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.