The Best Business Advice I Ever Received
Advice. We all give it; sometimes we take it. I have received a lot of advice over the years, but there two pieces of wisdom that I still use every day; one came from my father, and the other from John Cleese of Monty Python.
When I started imagistic back in 1997, I really had no idea how to run a business. I was 27, and my business partners were 31. We were young, naïve, and passionate. One business partner knew how to program, so we made him CTO; the other was a seasoned producer so he became COO; I had the Master’s in Psychology, so I was client relations (although we had none) and Sales (we needed them). It was up to me to be the rainmaker.
My father was an accomplished salesman; he was an EVP at DEC (remember them?) in the 80′s, and I remember hearing that he was responsible for two billion dollars in sales in one year. Can you imagine that?!? My dad called me one day to ask how my sales were going. Of course, I fibbed and said we were doing great. He told me: “Get more business than you can handle.” His philosophy was that we could always hire people. It was my job to fill the pipeline, never say no to an opportunity that fits into your vision (and, of course) your morals. (A side note: we decided to never do porn or gambling – noble and morally sounding as that is. But if we had, I would own a small island at this point and be retired, but that is another blog entry.)
So, I printed a huge banner on a dot-matrix printer that said “Get More Business Than You Can Handle” and hung it on my office wall. Three months later, our CTO walked into my office, pointed to the banner and said “Stop! We are buried!” I told him: “I am just doing my job. Now go hire more people!”
When I was 15, I remember watching an episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus where John Cleese robs a lingerie shop at gun point thinking it was a bank. He looks into the camera and says: “Adopt, Adapt and Improve.” It turns out that this was a motto of the Roundtable, a favorite of the Python camp. This saying has stuck with me for years, and I use it mostly when dealing with relationships, whether they be business or personal. The bottom line is that we cannot change people and their behaviors. We can only adopt them as people in our lives, adapt to their idiosyncrasies, and improve the relationship as to how we deal with them to make it work. I find that when I am in a situation where there is animosity, I immediately think: “Adopt, Adapt and Improve,” and my outlook and actions change to make it better and remove any uncomfortable or hard feelings.
Over the last 12 years, I have become the CEO of a successful service company. More often than not, people are coming to me for my opinions and advice. I am always happy to offer my thoughts; at the same time, I always remember these two valuable nuggets, as they have helped shape me to become the person I am today.