When my friend Chris Saraceno recently interviewed me for his upcoming book, The Theory of 5, we spoke about what it takes to make it in the business world. This month, I’d like to share some of my answers, and invite you to think about your own answers to these questions.
What are the key traits that financially successful business people possess?
The most successful people I’ve met in business, first and foremost, are mission driven. They are people whose passion comes from the fact that they’re really living and working for something bigger than themselves. Typically, their mission is other-focused, working to make life better for their employees and for their customers. That type of passion is rocket fuel, not only for the leaders but for those who follow them. Everybody wants to be part of something great, of a mission bigger than themselves.
A second trait would be that they have a crystal-clear vision of what their end goal looks like, even if they don’t know at the time how they’re going to get there. They have a sense of what success will be, and that’s key in reaching their goal.
Another trait is that they typically are very strategic, or they know how to surround themselves with strategic leaders who can create a clearly defined plan — a way to get from “here” to “there.”
Successful people are also doers. You might make a great plan, but if you don’t execute it, it’s not going to be worth anything. Along with that drive is resilience. They never give up, and that’s partially because, for them, it not just about business or about making money. They want to make a difference because their mission matters. They also have an addiction to excellence, because why would you want to promote something that isn’t great? From the product to the way it’s delivered to how they treat their customers and employees, an addiction to excellence is important.
Finally, the most successful people I know are high-character, high-integrity people who recognize that doing the right thing is the only thing that matters. Their integrity engenders trust in the people who follow them and who they work with.
What is your personal motto or slogan you are known most for in your business?
I would say “Love and Gratitude.” To love God. To love others. To love what I’m doing and who I’m doing it with and for. To love building and delivering greatness in whatever form. I believe love is the most powerful force in the universe, but it definitely doesn’t get the attention it deserves. For me, it’s the driver in my life. I think it’s crucial that people are loving and kind to the people they interact with at work and at home. If people used that as their primary focus, a lot of our problems would dissolve or be avoided, and a lot more good would be done in this world.
As for gratitude, I think it’s critical. We are all incredibly blessed. If we can stand, see, hear, breathe and live without pain, then we should be grateful — it’s vital to becoming a happy, fulfilled person in all areas of their life.
What businessperson do you admire most? What is it about them you most admire?
There are so many, but I’d have to say my biggest business mentors are, oddly, both named Eustace — my uncle, Eustace Wolfington, and my cousin, Eustace Mita. The thing they both have in common is they are extraordinary husbands, fathers and servant leaders to everyone they work with, with the highest level of integrity and a pursuit of perfection in everything they do. They are also both well balanced in their lives. They do an extraordinary job at work and at home. The one common theme that makes them great in everything they do is that they are humble, loving and kind to their colleagues, employees, customers, wives, children and extended family.
What was one of the most challenging things you’ve ever had to overcome in business, and how did you overcome it?
The difficult thing is when you have a team of people who put everything they have into achieving a mission and you don’t accomplish everything you set out to attain. Along the way you’ll always have valleys, pitfalls and roadblocks. When you’re on the side of the road with a flat tire, clouds of doubt and storms of fear and worry roll in. It’s in those moments when I get quiet and call the “Help Line.” I ask God to give me peace and clarity to make the right decisions, and inevitably it all works out. When I was younger I learned the phrase, “This too shall pass,” and it always does. In hindsight, often, when I get to the peak, I look back on all the valleys and thank them for what they taught me. I also thank God for helping me not to lose faith in those moments when I’m tempted to quit.
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