I wrote a blog a week ago that covered Harvey Goldsmith’s view of the Top 10 greatest entrepreneurs past and present (part 1). Here is the final listing from 6 – 10 and the insights I think are important for other ambitious people:
6. Harry Hyams (1928 – ) – a man who changed the face of commercial property. He built Centre Point in the 60’s and left it controversially empty for months. He was a man who got his timing right, stirred things up – a great example of success is often down to luck. Many would say he planned to be “lucky”
7.Bernie Ecclestone (1930-) – grasped the opportunity when he saw it. From selling cars to F1 supremo. The window of opportunity is presented to so many of us but how many grab it when it appears? It often only lasts for a short time. His vision and leadership is an inspiration to us all.
8.William Morris (1834-1896) – crafts and arts specialist who dreamed of improving the quality of life for British workers. He was a highly successful artist whose designs are still around today – the message is? Leaving a legacy and putting something back!
9.Lew Grade (1906 -1998) – a master entrepreneur in the entertainment business. Famous for pushing an idea across the finishing line – how many of us are guilty of losing faith in an idea when the first hurdle presents itself. Faith is such an important part of getting the idea into the market place. Sunday Night at the Palladium and Pink Panther were several of his major accomplishments.
10. Sir Martin Sorrell (1945-) Not had the best of press this week given the big salary. However, so many forget what this man has achieved. In the mid 80’s he bought a little company called Wire & Plastic Products – this became WPP. It emerged as a world-beating communications and advertising business. Annual revenues running into billions and profits approaching £1bn. How many others can say they have done that. Grit and determination are key ingredients of his success. So the press….get off his back, how short people’s memories are!
This week I have seen myself operating at both ends of the high growth company spectrum. At one end a start-up entrepreneur with a great idea and intention to build a £5M business in five years. At the other end the MD of a £100M global company wanting to achieve £200M over the coming three years. What captured my attention with both the leaders of these businesses was their excitement when they talked about their companies and their idea. Their passion manifested into an almost magnetic force that draws others into their world. Both individuals at opposite ends of the size spectrum had two things in common – massive ambition and enthusiasm.
Surely all leaders of ambitious companies should exhibit this visible commitment to what they do and what they are about. It creates the right atmosphere and conditions within the organisation because staff and other stakeholders will mirror the behaviour of the leader. Energy, drive and passion of leaders is what builds momentum and indeed a culture of innovation. Without it everything seems so flat and dreary!
Observation tells me that 80% of people want more from their career, life or business. However the two biggest challenges are:
- Defining what more looks like
- The will to change behaviour to achieve more
Here lies the heart of debate – most people are resistant to doing things differently with many not willing to take the necessary steps to initiate the changes – the reality is, only action delivers change. A study of 11,000 of patients in the US who had undergone major heart-by pass surgery revealed that only 11% changed their lifestyle habits to accommodate a new way of living – that means 89% carried on with business as usual even though their life was at risk.
For me Darwinian thinking applies in these instances – its about the survival of the fittest, in other words those willing to change usually enjoy long term success. Big changes do not usually happen overnight, it comes in small steps – a bit like a dimmer switch – slight turns make the light shine brighter. Embracing a mindset that welcomes small changes can have an almost profound impact on personal progression.
Lets draw some insights from Nudge Theory, an area that I don’t claim to have any deep understanding but one where its impact I know has had a profound impact on behaviour. The best example of this was seen in Schipol Airport. Toilet cleaning costs were spiraling out of total control. The problems were attributed to the mess made in the gent’s toilets, usually men rushing to catch their flight obviously late but needing to relieve themselves before departure. Unfortunately their haste led to making a mess on the floor, wall and just everywhere including their shoes. This created a massive demand for additional cleaning – costs started to rise at an unbelievable rate. By applying Nudge Theory to this situation the sanitary ware manufacturers etched what looked like a fly on the urinal – guess what 80% immediate reduction in the cleaning bill – think about it. Something so small with such a profound effect – how can you nudge yourself to getting the change that you want? What small nudges can you make to?
- Think differently
- Act differently
- Deliver you the change you want
So the starting point for any one on a mission, ambitious project or wanting to achieve a big goal is – pull the trigger of personal change, recognise that if you don’t you will at best stand still or at worst go into reverse.
Personal change is likened to the turning of an oil tanker, it takes time, and very few of us are blessed with the ability to change at the pace of a gazelle. However, if we recognise that change is constantly needed we are more likely to take action to get what we want.
So many of us want to achieve far more from our life, career or profession. This means lots of us seek to:
– Achieve a promotion
– Win the next big contract
– Set up a new business
– Change career
-Invest in a new project
-Make a new appointment
This list goes on – the dilemma is that many think about it but how many take action to do something about it? A dream without action is nothing more than hallucination. I meet so many people wanting to achieve more but too few implement the necessary actions to get what they want out of life. I see three states of thinking:
1. Total oblivion about the need to change to get more – daylight trance
2. Recognition of the need to change but….no action taken
3. Recognition of the need to change and just getting on with it!
Too few sit in state 3, so many of us sit in either 1 or 2! (as many as 80% of us). We must nudge ourselves to changing our mindset and behaviour to get want we want from life. Finding a coach/mentor can help with a change in the way we go about things – doing what you always have done will give you the same result – only by making a conscious effort to change will you get what you want. Dont fall into the trap of dreaming – take action!
I have found myself to be a part of an ever-growing group of people that can’t stand entrepreneurial TV shows. Personally they make me cringe – several come immediately to mind. There is an argument to say that they put enterprise on the map and get more people thinking about going into business. Whilst I am fully in favour of this, I do think realism needs to be injected. All these big time Charlie’s become role models for the younger generation – do they really set the right tone by humiliating individuals with ideas? There is no worse crime than humiliating someone in public!
From what I can see they paint a picture of the brash and hard-nosed individual that sees nothing but pound notes, red Ferrari’s and yachts in the South of France. I think we need more factual TV around entrepreneurship – programmes that display the reality of running an SME. This means that sometimes you don’t pay yourself, working long hours, writing quotations, pitching, and networking due to the importance of building relationships.
Added to this, success in business doesn’t mean you need a ground breaking new idea or product, sometimes its just about doing things better. A programme based on these themes probably won’t reach 4 million viewers – however having said this, more realistic messages need to be communicated.
The next generation of entrepreneurial stars need to accept that the precursor to the Porsche is hard graft and risk.