Marie Curie, famous for her discovery of radium and polonium and recipient of a 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics, did not stumble upon success. Far from it. The Curies had to work to make ends meet and performed their research under difficult laboratory conditions.
Quiet and dignified, Mme. Curie has been quoted as saying, “Life is not easy for any of us… We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”
The Curies had a vision and the perseverance to reach it. Perseverance is an essential success factor for business owners. Owners also should value and retain employees and managers who possess this kind of “stick-to-it-ness.” You can spot people with the trait by noticing their focus on tasks, their ability to endure despite obstacles. These successful people are tenacious; they don’t give up or run for help when faced with a problem, and they’re invested and engaged in their work.
To identify people who persevere when interviewing new hires, ask questions such as, “Can you tell me about a time when you had to overcome obstacles or solve a complex problem?” or “Have you ever tackled a long-term project that took many steps and weeks of attention to complete?”
Perseverance is more than enduring obstacles; it’s the ability to see into the future at what an organization/department/product or service can be. Once you recognize perseverance in yourself or others, do all you can to reward it. If you or an otherwise awesome employee have vision and passion, but give up a little more easily than you should, tweak your skills, patience, and characteristics that help you persevere. Learn more about how to measure this success factor in yourself and in colleagues or employees, and how to fast track people who can grow your business at Success Factors Inc.
Take your star employees to the next level–make them intrapreneurs! It’s those folks in the organization who are embued with an entreprenerial spirit–we call them Self-Starters. Ignite their talent so that they can take their vision and passion for your company and its products to new heights! Perhaps a better way to do something in your company? A more efficient process? A way to make money with a new product or service?
To create that intrapreneurial culture within the organization, take them back to the basics, then unleash them with the resources and support to go for it!
Follow these steps, identified as Success Factors of successful intrapreneurs:
- Start Now. Share your vision with these talented folks–a vision of what you want the company to achieve. I am stunned by the number of individual contributors that I meet in my work who do NOT have a clue what the oganization’s vision is! The vision doesn’t have to be complicated at all.
- Then task them to integrate the company’s vision into their personal vision of the work they want to do.
- Paint your passion in vivid colors for them. Why is passion important here? How does it show up on a regular basis? Could you point to it, if you saw passion being demonstrated?
- Create a support system so that if things get tough and obstacles appear, you have a system to tackle those challenges to move forward. Perseverance is one of the keys to success.
At Self-Starter Zone, we’re here to help you take that talented bench to success. We can help them reach them full potential, and turn them into high performers. Find out more at Self-Starter Zone (https://successmindedleader.com//). Seriously, start now.
Perseverance Pays Off for New Editor In Chief
Audrey Cooper, the new editor-in-chief of the San Francisco Chronicle, just broke a few barriers. With her promotion, she became the first woman to hold the position in the newspaper’s 150-year history. And at age 37, she also became the youngest woman in the country to hold an editor-in-chief position at any large newspaper.
Of course, “young age” is relative. Cooper has paid her dues. Although she obviously has a passion and talent for the work she does, it’s her perseverance that stands out to me. For one, she advanced from her first job at the paper as assistant metro editor in 2006 through a series of promotions to her most recent position as managing editor in 2013. Admirable, but not the entire story.
In an interview on SFGate, Cooper said that 15 years ago, she applied for an internship at the San Francisco Chronicle three years in a row and was never called back. She worked several other journalism jobs before making her way back to the second-largest newspaper on the West Coast.
When a self-starter has a vision like it appears that Audrey Cooper had, she doesn’t let a setback hold her down. Or in this case, three setbacks early in her career! Cooper also is married with a two-year-old son and leads walking tours in the Bay area.
An interesting article in Parade Magazine this past Sunday gave me pause. It’s seem counter-intuitive to state so confidently that entrepreneurs should never be daredevils. Hmmm. I believe self-starters take vetted risks and seize opportunities based on the clarity of their vision–all the time! But note the word “vetted.” Kind of like bungee jumping–hopefully you have calculated the risks because strapping on.
What do you think?
Self-starters know what many who give up might not get – failure is part of success. Geoffrey Stack of Chicago manages a billion-dollar real estate venture and has never lacked tenacity: “You can’t get discouraged and quit,” says Stack. “You just have to say, ‘Okay, let’s start again.’”
Although passion and vision help self-starters work their way toward their plans and dreams, it’s how they handle inevitable setbacks that really makes them successful. That’s where perseverance and taking risks step up to the plate and keep a self-starter plugging along when others might give up. The less successful have trouble adapting, maybe because their dream isn’t going exactly as they planned or their business will take longer to turn a reasonable profit than they had hoped. A self-starter finds a way to adapt his or her plan.
Here are a few tips for forcing failure’s hand:
- Learn from mistakes, but move on. Dwelling on a failure makes it bigger than it is. Some things are simply beyond our control; one of these is the past. Even if you contributed to the failure, you don’t get a “do-over.” Make up for it next time.
- Don’t take failure as an excuse to give up. Look at it as a reason to draw on other skills you have, seek some advice, and try again.
- Quit comparing yourself to others. You hear more about instant successes, but most self-starters faced plenty of failures before they succeeded.
“Tenacity/perseverance is No. 1,” says Mike Colwell, who runs Plains Angels, an Iowa angel investor forum, and the accelerator Business Innovation Zone for the Greater Des Moines Partnership. “So much of entrepreneurship is dealing with repeated failure. It happens many times each week.” When failure happens, you have to start all over again.
This example truly personifies perseverance: Jett McCandless was a partner in a fast-growing freight logistics operation. But the rapid expansion triggered mistakes, including an invoicing glitch that left the company without enough cash reserves. The business had to be sold for a fraction of its value. McCandless didn’t agree to the terms and was fired. He lost the company house and car and wound up moving into his girlfriend’s apartment. “It was a very tough time,” he recalls. “I came very close to going bankrupt.”
He went on 25 job interviews and got offers for logistics positions paying $200,000 and up. But McCandless, who grew up in Section 8 public housing, wondered, Should I take a comfortable, secure job, or could I build something better? “I was afraid that failure could define the rest of my life, and I wasn’t going to let that happen,” he says.
So rather than accept one of those big offers, he started over, founding a new company, CarrierDirect, in Chicago. Hamstrung by the noncompete contract with his previous firm, he created a wholly new space in the logistics field. Instead of matching shippers with truckers, he switched to consulting, providing marketing and sales for logistics companies. In two years CarrierDirect grew to $35 million in revenue. “I’m glad I didn’t take one of those corporate jobs,” he says now.
Now how’s that for success?
Savvy Sales Advice for Self-Starters
Self-starters get it: To make it in highly competitive markets, you have to persevere. Many self-starters have been knocked down before, only to get up and try again, so they know how to take a licking. But all of this passion and moxie can’t turn into a chip on the shoulder or downright pushiness. The trick to good sales and service comes from personal connections and attention, not to overbearing tactics.
I recently came across an article on Mashable.com that gives new business owners and their sales staff great advice on how to pitch their businesses without coming across as jerks.
Here are a few tips from the article by Gavin Llewellyn:
Focus on the situation, not your business. You’re proud of your start-up and the success you’ve had so far, but your potential customer wants to know what you can do for him or her – what value you have to offer. Tailor your pitch to the customer’s needs and situation; save the company history and bio for a special page on your website or your future write-up as a success story!
Stop talking and listen. There’s no way to really know what your customer needs and wants unless you listen and truly hear what the customer is saying. Ask follow-up questions that show you were tuned in. And use the information you gather to meet and exceed customer needs, and maybe even make adjustments to your product and service. Your results will do most of the talking with great customer satisfaction once you get the sale.
Llewellyn gives these and other tips for talking with potential investors as well. And that’s often a critical component to new businesses or those wishing to expand. Remember that everyone is not as personally invested in your business as you are, but that you can make them believe in its value and your ability as a self-starter with the right approach.
Successful business owners need a range of skills to start and manage their ventures. Traditionally, self-starters with a dream have turned to M.B.A. programs to gain financial, management and entrepreneurial skills. For many, that’s the right decision, but an alternative to traditional business school has been cropping up around the country.
New programs aimed at people who want to launch start-ups offer approaches that can take less time and money than M.B.A. programs. Students can select from a menu of courses such as writing a business plan or product design. Many of the programs are offered by private corporations, some are online, and some are rapid start-up programs provided by traditional universities.
Why choose a rapid program instead of a business school? It’s an individual decision, but one reason is funds. Every M.B.A. program and start-up school differs, but a shorter, custom-designed course can be less expensive. Short courses also take less time and you often can take them after work hours, which means you can keep earning money for your start-up while attending courses or learning online.
Before choosing a business start-up program, learn as much as you can about its curriculum and success rate. Although the M.B.A. pedigree might mean less when gathering support for your start-up than it once did, M.B.A. programs undergo rigorous accreditation, and start-up schools do not.
Assess your skills and determine where you already have what it takes and where you need the most help; this might help you select the best program for your needs and the best courses to take. You can go to our web site (www.selfstarterzone.com )and review the Big Three Success Factors for all self-starters) as a first step.
In Secrets of Self-Starters, we profiled Tom Douglas, award-winning chef and restaurant owner from Seattle. Douglas shared his secrets for success as a self-starter, especially self-motivation and seizing opportunities. He described himself in our interview as “someone who knows how to use an alarm clock.”
Douglas clearly knows how to open, operate and maintain restaurants.
And in 2012, he was honored as the nation’s Outstanding Restaurateur by the Beard Foundation. The award represents his achievements for a body of work in the restaurant business instead of success at any single endeavor. Douglas owned 5 restaurants when we spoke with him and said he had plans to open five more. T Today, his website lists 11.Douglas is the author of several cookbooks, co-host of a local radio show and owner of Prosser Farm in the Yakima Valley, along with his wife Jackie Cross. With the farm, Douglas has shortened the gap between farm and restaurant table.
Douglas also has demonstrated several secrets of self-starters, and how passion, vision and a little risk-taking pay off personally and professionally. Learn more about the secrets of self-starters like Tom Douglas and take a self-starter assessment right from the link on our home page .
Today, I heard the story of an amazing survivor, Major Joe Crecca, from the POW camps in Vietnam. Joe flew F-4C Phantoms and was shot down, captured and spent his time in the “Hanoi Hilton.” Tortured and starved, he was released six years later in 1973, and went on to work for Federal Express as a pilot. Now in his late 60s, he has a uplifting story to tell.
What was so remarkable is that he focused his comments around one of the three Success Secrets of all self-starters: Perseverance. And boy, did he self-start! He taught classes to other POWs; formed cooking groups; kept up the morale ofothers; and communicated regularly with Senator McCain! His motto was “Press on.”
His riveting story ended it with this quote from Calvin Coolidge. “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
I offer this to you–Persevere in your dreams. Grab ahold of your vision,. Lasso your passion, and press on!
Where have you perservered in the face of adversity?