I was never mentored as a kid and never had a boss that helped me in a way that truly allowed me to unleash my potential. I was lucky enough to be working for Sun Microsystems when they introduced a mentoring program in my division and I grabbed the most senior exec that participated. In one of our sessions, phimosis he introduced a concept that allowed me to break-out of the rut I was in and truly unleash my potential. At the point (around 1995), illness I decided to help as many others unleash their potential as I could.
Nine years later as my son turned 6 (he’s 11 now), ed I thought I must share some key thoughts on business that he can use to focus his business efforts. Kids don’t like complexity (unless it’s bundled inside a video game), so I decided to create a framework that could guide his efforts. After giving this a lot of thought, I came up with three business rules that really encapsulate the fundamental tenets of what I’ve learned in business and the concepts that steer my activities on a day-to-day basis. They are:
- Make as many friends as possible and do as many favors as possible
- Help those with needs get hooked-up with those that can fulfill those needs
- Enjoy business, experiment often, and learn from your mistakes
Business rule #1 is a variant of the “Golden Rule”. The premise is that you can never have too many friends. As you get older, the reasons you make friends is not too different then when you’re younger, it just seems a little harder. In youth, you make friends because the person is there and they want to play with you. In business, most people make friends when they think the person they meet can help them. I’d like to add to that thought process. You should make friends not only when you feel that someone can help you, but when you can help them. Learn about the needs and wants that people have. Learn about how you can help them. Be prepared to do as many favors as you can to help people succeed. It’s personally very rewarding and pays off in the end in ways you may not be able to imagine today.
Business rule #2 is one that I call “supply and demand.”. If you’ve done a good job in business rule #1, you have many friends and have learned what they need and what they are good at. As you meet new people and learn about their needs, wants, and capabilities, you will find opportunities to connect them with your older friends. As you help solve problems and fulfill needs, you will be creating economic benefits for your friends that will pay off both directly and indirectly over time.
Business rule #3 is based on the fact that noone knows it all and that life keeps changing. As such, business practices that work today may not work tomorrow. It’s important to experiment, to try new things and new ways to deliver your products and service to the market. It’s important in this experimentation to realize that it’s ok to fail. Failure is good, particularly when you can do so in a pre-defined experiment that allowed you to fail in the most efficient manner possible. To make failure positive, you need to learn from it and have it be a guideline in your next set of experiments. Most paramount in this rule is the fundamental fact that you should enjoy what you’re doing. I try to create a world where business and play are the same. I enjoy both and bundle them together. If you do not enjoy what you’re doing today for work, try to change that. Try to experiment making money doing something that you really do enjoy. Trust me, it will be a lot more fun.
Business (and life for that matter) is not easily packaged in an article or highlighted as an example in the back of a book. It’s complex, it keeps changing, and the rules continue to shift as we and society mature. If you make many friends which you help succeed and continue to
experiment and learn what works in delivering your product or service to market, you will be successful financially and emotionally and it will show in all aspects of your life.
Go out and make it happen for you and let me know if there’s anything I can do to help!