Super Powers

Super heroes are known for their super powers. Superman could fly and possessed incredible strength. Captain Marvel could levitate. Wonder Woman had x-ray vision. Hercules could self-heal. Iron Man could become invisible, and Stretch Armstrong was a shape shifter. Cartoon characters are bestowed with amazing super powers and always seem to find themselves in situations that call for the use of those powers specifically unique to them.

Successful entrepreneurs also have their own unique super powers. Discovering and utilizing such powers can lead to some amazing results. As we progress through our careers, we become more and more aware of our super powers. The earlier in life we are able to discern our special abilities, the sooner we’ll be able to focus them and realize our full potential. Just like most of the super heroes, we entrepreneurs can’t lay claim to all of the super powers which is why we need to understand what is ours and how to use it. Here are a few ideas on the subject.

Creativity and Imagination are foundational super powers for many entrepreneurs. Probably one of the most creative individuals ever to walk the planet was Steve Jobs of Apple fame. Jobs had a vision that was unmatched and he transformed society by imagining things that had never been done before. He envisioned the iPhone to have on-screen features rather than the old buttons that were used on other cell phones.

Tesla’s Elon Musk exemplifies the super powers of Perseverance and Resilience. Another of his enterprises is a company called SpaceX which is attempting to commercialize space travel. Even though there have been countless setbacks including rockets that failed to function properly or exploded in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2015 and 2016, Musk continued to stay the course to reach his ultimate goal of making space travel affordable and colonizing Mars.

McDonald’s would not be the company it is today had it not been for its founder, Ray Kroc and his super powers of Optimism and Ambition. Very early in his career he met Earl Prince, the inventor of a five-spindle milk shake machine called the Multimixer. He spent 15 years selling the machine to a variety of customers including two brothers in San Bernardino, California. Dick and Mac McDonald entered into an arrangement with Kroc to expand McDonald’s beyond a single restaurant and the rest is history. Because of his Ambition, Kroc was able to effectively push the expansion plan. And his Optimism was contagious and enabled others – franchisees, suppliers, bankers and investors, to believe in him and his plan.

When we think of Amazon we understandably think of its founder Jeff Bezos. Here is a man who is not afraid of failure because his super power is seeing the world as a laboratory in which to Experiment. Is there any doubt that he’s done exactly that? He started selling books online, and today sells EVERYTHING through the Amazon website. In addition, Amazon Web Services, is a subsidiary that provides a cloud-based computing platform to the business community. Bezos convinced investors to back his approach of experimentation from Amazon’s launch in 1995 to 2016 when it achieved annual sales of $136 billion. He advises entrepreneurs to focus on process not failure, and further to “deconstruct products, processes and ideas.”

Building and serving Relationships are Reid Hoffman’s super powers. Hoffman was the COO of PayPal and co-founder of LinkedIn. He likes to build deep, long-term relationship that give insider knowledge. Says he, “If you reverse engineer the relationships of many successful entrepreneurs as I have, you will realize that many people work with the same people over and over in their careers.”

What is your super power? Once you find it, focus on it, refine it and exploit it. It may not enable you to leap over tall buildings in a single bound, but it may be just what you need to build a successful and sustainable organization.

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 72 – Vacuum Cleaners & Movies.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

Hyperopia

Here’s a fundamental question for all entrepreneurs. Are you a visionary? Being a visionary and having a corporate vision are two different things, so take care not to confuse the two. For a company, a non-profit or any other organization to thrive and succeed over a long period of time, visionary leadership is paramount. And unfortunately, many companies stagnate and die when the visionary leader moves on for whatever reason. That’s why it’s crucial for a company to continuously develop visionaries across generations that will help to sustain the organization in the future.

It’s not hard to think about individuals who exemplify the term “visionary.” Steve Jobs comes to my mind before anyone else. He was a rebel and an unconventional thinker who wasn’t afraid to take risks. Similarly, Bill Gates was a visionary who became the richest man in the world as a result of his ability to understand and shape the future. What comes to mind when you hear these names – Henry Ford, Wilbur and Orville Wright, John D.  Rockefeller, Thomas Edison, Sam Walton, Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg? Each was a phenomenal innovator. Each had an uncanny sense of where the world was going. Each had dreams but was also a doer.

Being a visionary is partially innate and partially learned. So, what can we do to develop our visionary leadership skills? How curious are you? Do you read everything you can get your hands on? Visionaries are expansive readers and are curious about everything. Curiosity stimulates the imagination and helps bring forth new ideas manifesting in a high degree of creativity. How persevering are you? The next time you’re ready to throw in the towel remember that visionaries have a stick-to-it attitude. They are highly resilient and believe they can solve any problem. Visionaries love discussion and debate. Some may see this as confrontation but it really isn’t. Instead, a visionary likes to listen to differing points of view even when it gets a bit lively.

What other ways can we model visionary behavior? Do you embrace change or are you more comfortable living with doing things the same way? Visionaries are change agents. They like to teach and are focused on doing the right thing. Integrity ranks high on their list of values. Do you have high expectations for your team? Sometimes the line between high vs. unreasonable expectations can blur a bit. But don’t expect a visionary to set a low bar. Visionaries tend to be eternal optimists and can’t see a glass half empty – it’s always half full. And visionaries are some of the most passionate people you’ll ever meet. Finally, visionaries don’t live in the details – they are quintessential delegators.

A visionary has a knack for looking at a collection of data and telling the future. He sees things that others don’t and isn’t the least bit concerned if his ideas are pooh-poohed. In fact, he’ll work hard to persuade others to buy into what he believes because he has a supreme degree of self-confidence.

By emulating their behaviors, traits and tendencies, we too can become visionaries. Our value to our organization increases exponentially when we provide visionary leadership.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

eye doctor

Soaring

Question: I’d like to become more imaginative and creative. What suggestions do you have?

Answer: I’ve heard theories that imagination and creativity are innate – you either have it or you don’t. I’ve also heard some people state, “I’m just not a creative person.” In my opinion, everyone is born with imagination and creativity. With some people it’s “closer to the surface” than with others, but it’s still present within every one of us. The key is what we do to bring it into reality.

As entrepreneurs, we tend to spend a lot of time in a left brain mode. We’re analyzing, planning, verbalizing, logical and detail-oriented. But imagination and creativity emanate from the right brain. And if we don’t spend much (if any) time in a right brain mode, how then can we develop our ability to imagine and create the good that we seek? There certainly are things we can do that are outside our comfort zone. What might they be?

I used to read business books and magazines all the time. Nothing else was in my library. Growing up I loved to read, but as I began my career it was all about learning everything I could about business methods, theories and case studies. I participated in education sessions and seminars to obtain a professional designation – all related to my industry. I wrote articles for trade publications. Again, they were all focused on the business of my business. After a few years it became clear to me that my one-dimensional approach to reading, learning and writing wasn’t doing anything to make me more creative or innovative. There is no doubt that I was becoming an expert in my field, but so what? Who wants to be a boring expert? And I noticed that solving problems wasn’t as easy or as fun as it was when I first started my journey.

A course correction was in order for me. I began reading a wide variety of publications. I actually began reading fiction books! Rather than allowing my whole life to revolve around business and more particularly, my business, I decided it was time to be much more curious about a whole lot of things. As a kid, I remember rainy Saturday mornings spent with World Book encyclopedias. I would pore through them in fascination. Somehow I had moved away from exercising my right brain. Living a more varied life was a gradual thing. But I found that the more I got out of my comfort zone and did things unrelated to my business, the more creative and imaginative I became. Today I believe that my levels of creativity and imagination are at an all-time high because I touch everything that I can – music, literature, spirituality, philanthropy, social studies, psychology, sports and the list goes on.

In order for our imaginations to soar we must step out of the forest and into the sunlight. Then we can look around and see beyond our limits. When we become curious about and interested in an infinite number of things, our creativity and intuition will become stronger and new ideas will flow effortlessly.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

soaring