Archive: March 2013
Prosperity and the Denver Nuggets Win Streak
During their streak the Miami Heat have won 27 in a row compared to the Nuggets win streak that just ended at 15 games. Maybe it’s only because I live in Denver but I think the fact that the Heat’s top 3 players earn 50% more in salary than the top 3 in Denver make the Nuggets win streak a more interesting case study. Like most entrepreneurs, Denver couldn’t afford to buy their way to a win streak—they had to find another way. In start-up businesses, capital is one of the scarcest of resources and the leader who can achieve more results with less capital is blazing a Shortcut to Prosperity.
Part 3 of Shortcut to Prosperity is about Recruiting Allies to your cause because an individual acting alone rarely achieves the most meaningful goals. No, you need to surround yourself with people eager to work with you to achieve something special and money is not the best way to attract or retain them. The most capable people are attracted to winning teams—teams whose products and services are in such high demand that the organization is constantly growing and creating opportunities for its employees to learn and grow. It is a rush to be involved with an organization that is winning and is an acknowledged leader in its space.
How Do the Nuggets Do It?
The Nuggets Coach George Karl was asked how he manages a team without a superstar to rely on. Karl replied that he did have a superstar, it just happened to be a different guy every night. No one knows at tip off who it is going to be, but a combination of strategy, game flow, and who is feeling it that night puts someone in the superstar role and the team adjusts to support the hot hand. Why does it work? One word: TRUST. Every student of basketball knows that one of the keys to scoring is ball movement. Good ball movement happens when each team member trusts the next to keep passing and moving until someone gets an open look. It’s called unselfish play and it only works if every member understands they will get the same number of shots under this scheme, but the shots will be easier shots to knock down. It takes only one weak link to undermine the strategy and devolve into every man for himself. Coach Karl’s job is to make sure that there is never a weak link on the floor.
What’s the Business Analogy?
Companies built on a foundation of trust outperform other companies. It’s that simple. Instead of sharing the ball, their mindset is to share information better, cooperate better, and move resources to where they can do the most good. They create a culture that recognizes that a rising tide lifts all boats (careers) and build compensation systems that encourage everyone to be on the same page. The result is a reduction of people working at cross purposes which means better performance, less tension and an environment that is just a whole lot more fun to work in. Success for the company and increased prosperity for its employees becomes a slam-dunk.
Do you know of any trust-based business organizations that are ready to start a win streak of their own? If you do, I’d like to hear about them!
Finding Your Passion–Take Two
I had an interesting teleconference with a reader this week, Brad, who reminded me of the trial and error process most people go through before finding a meaningful career focus. Finding something that you are passionate enough to invest the time (think 10,000 hours) required to develop a differentiating level of expertise is difficult and usually doesn’t happen on the first try. What makes it even worse is that our passion is a moving target. As we pile on more knowledge and experience we become interested in different things. Julia Child serves as a great example. She was a copywriter before going to work for the Office of Strategic Services (precursor to the CIA) before finally attending Le Cordon Bleu cooking school and discovering the passion we knew her for. So if this sounds like you, don’t worry, you’re in good company. For many people it takes a while to find something that you are driven to explore over an extended period of time. Unfortunately most people just give in to the status quo experience that their life has, through a random series of interactions, become.
Expect to Flail a Little
Brad’s experience is pretty typical. He started college as a pre-med major but the coursework didn’t interest him enough to motivate the grades that it would have taken to push through to medical school. So he switched majors—not to something that he was dying to learn about, but to Spanish, a major that he thought he could tolerate long enough to graduate. He couldn’t…and he didn’t. Instead he followed a real passion into restaurant and bar operation where he excelled all the way to restaurant management but eventually, like with his pre-med studies, Brad exhausted his interest in the hospitality industry. Eventually he found himself “wandering deeper into the industry with no real plan other than getting by”.
Eventually You WILL Find It!
After some soul searching and advice from a trusted friend, Brad identified an interest that had more staying power. He took the courageous decision to go back to school to study civil engineering because “I wanted more meaning in a career… and I liked the idea of producing infrastructure to help society grow.” Fueled by his new vision, Brad powered through a BS and MSCE and recently passed his PE (Professional Engr) exam while working for a firm on the west coast. Is he done? Heck no. He actually is pretty bored by the repetitive nature of the CAD based work he currently does and sees this work as just a prerequisite to earning the opportunity to work more synergistically with teams (in his own firm!) who are solving pressing infrastructure problems.
What Can We Learn from Brad?
Brad’s experience illustrates the best advice that I can give to people trying to find their true passion. Follow your naturally curiosity where it leads you and keep at it as long as you find the work (and the learning) interesting. If you get to the point where you are bored with the subject—no big deal–It’s just time to pivot to something else that you have become interested in. It might mean a change to a whole new arena or, like Brad’s next move, just a change of structure within a continued area of passion. And don’t worry, the process will converge to a career direction with staying power in less time than you think.
Want to See Brad’s Most Recent Personal Vision?
Brad reached out to me for advice on how to move forward in his pursuit of prosperity. I think I gave him some perspective that allowed him to refocus his effort on leveraging the sizable foundation that he has already built while moving more consciously toward the life of his dreams. Completing the personal vision exercise in Shortcut to Prosperity was key to Brad’s understanding of his next move. You can find the blank template here. Brad has graciously allowed me to share his completed template with anyone who thinks it would be instructive for the development of their own personal vision. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like me to send you a copy. It’s pretty exciting stuff and I have no doubt that he will achieve it.
Please share your own story of pursuing passion by posting a comment below. And know that you are always welcome to reach out to me via e-mail if there is anything I can help with.
Guest Blog: Shortcut to Prosperity Featured on the Executive Roundtable
Pursue the Passionate, Avoid the Zombies! Mark discusses his thoughts on the importance of surrounding yourself with passionate people and you will see a transformation through osmosis.
Read the entire post here:
48 Hours of Idea Exchange and Hysterical Laughter
Alex, Glenn, and I went to college together a lifetime ago. We’ve each had a different career and entrepreneurial experience, and that’s what makes it so much fun to get back together and compare notes. I see Glenn on a semi-regular basis but hadn’t seen Alex in 5 years. Last Friday evening I picked him up at the airport, extracted Glenn from an executive planning meeting, and repaired to a local bar to kick off a weekend ski trip that was like our own micro TEDx conference.
Our conference itinerary ranged from a discussion of how to fix the US educational system (while sampling Glenn’s homebrew beer in a hot tub) to ideas on improving wealth distribution without screwing up capitalism (while titrating the ingredients for the perfect margarita). At other times we talked about the process of going public, maintaining the right corporate mindset when growing through acquisition, carried interest, ideas for a new company in the physical security space, and how to bounce back from a career reset. Even though the subjects were heavy, we kept the mood light by interjecting favorite college stories that could have been big hits on a Letterman’s Stupid Human Tricks segment. I laughed so hard this weekend that there were a couple of times that I thought I might dislodge a rib.
Find Other Entrepreneurs with a Similar Mindset
You might ask why any of this belongs in a blog on entrepreneurship. In Shortcut 5 of Shortcut to Prosperity I talk about learning from the best people and organizations. And while I spend a lot of time talking about working for a great company that excels at what you are passionate about, there is as much or more learning that can be achieved by finding and befriending like-minded entrepreneurs. As I begin this week full of new and better ideas, I wish I had done a better job of cultivating friendships with high energy, thoughtful people like Alex and Glenn. Whether you are still in school or busy building a career, take the time to look around you and identify the people that you can learn from and enjoy being around. Find ways to spend time with them building rapport and breaking down the barriers that keep most people from sharing what’s really on their mind. Here’s what you can expect if you do.
Better Ideas: It’s easier to come up with new ideas in a group setting. Testing your own insights against other people’s life experience allows you to sharpen and intensify your own mindset.
Heartfelt Challenges: Testing your ideas with people you trust opens the door to having the holes in your logic identified in a way that doesn’t leave you feeling stupid. This frees you up to patch the holes or move on to better ideas
Broader Perspective: Your own knowledge, life experience, and analytical ability are all that you can bring to bear on an opportunity. Harnessing the combined knowledge and experience of talented people is like illuminating a problem with a 5,000 Watt spotlight instead of your cell phone flashlight.
Better Appreciation: It is easy to forget about all that is right with our lives and focus instead on all of our own—usually petty—problems. Hearing about the seriously unfortunate experiences of people helps you appreciate the blessings of your own life and the need to help others and occasionally accept help yourself.
Game Changing Support: The right introduction or connection can be the difference between experiencing the thrill of exploiting an opportunity and the agony of watching another person or organization beat you to it. Execution time is more important than ever and gaining the support of the right person can change everything.
Please join me in my effort to inspire others by sharing your own experience Learning From the Best and adding a comment below!
Q&A with John Mertz, Thin Difference
Mark’s leadership and life lessons while at Hewlett Packard and Emerson Electric are examined in a Q&A session with blogger, John Mertz. Thin Difference was created in 2010 to help people discover how to lead an inspired life. The basis of the blog is that the daily choices we make, define who we are. Mark’s interview includes working with Millennials as entrepreneurs, generational differences during a career path, and the focus on giving back through non-profits and micro-lending.
Read the entire interview here: http://www.thindifference.com/2013/03/04/moving-beyond-career-status-quo/
Guest Blog: Two Daughters, A Shortcut and Leadership
Mark recently spent time with blogger John Bossong and answered questions about his inspiration for the book, leader influence, and advice for readers in today’s current job market/climate.
Read the entire post here: http://johnbossong.com/2013/03/05/two-daughters-a-shortcut-and-leadership/
Guest Blog: Is It Time for a Career Pivot?
LeadBIG Blogger Jane Perdue uses her gift of storytelling to engage and inspire readers. Mark Hopkins was recently asked to submit a guest blog to discuss career differentiation, scalability, barriers to entry and the amount of risk involved in making a change.
Vist the blog here: http://getyourbigon.com/leadbigblog/mark-hopkins-career-pivot-shortcut-to-prosperity/
Learn From Rory McIlroy’s Meltdown
When Rory McIlroy walked off the golf course at the Honda Classic last week he was 7 over par after 8 holes and had just hit another ball into the water on 18. And that was after missing the cut in his first tournament of the year and being eliminated in the first round of the second tournament. The number one player in the world was struggling publicly. And if that wasn’t stressful enough, he had just switched every club in his bag as part of an agreement with Nike that would pay him tens of millions of dollars. And did I mention that he is 23 years old and didn’t have the luxury of a collegiate career to help get him ready for golf’s largest stage?
To be scared is to be human. To be overwhelmed is to be human. To be able to do what the number one golfer in the world must do without being either scared or overwhelmed is superhuman. And that’s why we are fascinated by people like Rory who seem to be neither. But McIlroy’s actions at the Honda Classic show us he is not quite there yet. Rory is a champion and probably a great guy, but he is incredibly young to have mastered the essence of Shortcut 6: Earn an “I Can Do Anything Attitude”.
Shortcut 6: Earn an “I Can Do Anything Attitude”
Earning an “I Can Do Anything Attitude” means dozens of trips around the prosperity cycle—deciding to Do Something, working hard to make it happen, and harvesting the confidence required for another, bigger, cycle. It also means investing Malcolm Gladwell’s recommended 10,000 hours to get down the learning curve in your chosen field. And while Rory is certainly way down his sport’s learning curve, he hasn’t yet had much time enduring the kind of scrutiny reserved for guys named Tiger or Phil.
That’s Where the Fun Is
Scale back this experience to a more normal life experience and you can see this same dynamic in our own lives. No, we don’t have cameras trained on us as we do our jobs, but, if we are pushing the limits of our own capabilities, we will occasionally feel the way that Rory felt last Friday—out of control and overwhelmed. But I urge you to go there anyway because, as Manfred Mann said, “that’s where the fun is”. Life is a lot more interesting and prosperous if you can convince yourself to make use of 100% of your abilities.
You’ll know you have mastered the Shortcut when some unexpected and truly horrible business event happens within your area of responsibility and instead of panicking; you smile and say “something good is going to come out of this”. Because something good often does happen when people are courageous enough to see that opportunities are frequently borne of events that force you off your intended track.
Are you willing to pursue a path that is likely to push you past your comfort zone?
Guest Blog Post: Shortcuts on the Long Road to Success
Are there really “shortcuts” to success? Experienced executive and leadership guru, Karin Hurt recently interviewed Mark about Shortcut to Prosperity. She especially liked the Prosperity Cycle and the catalyst of either a personal hardship or a compelling personal vision to start a business. Mark discusses his favorite parts of the book and how the information in the book can help grow more effective leaders.