Thursday, December 20, 2007

Visions of Sucess

I used to work for a large financial services firm. It should come as no surprise that I still have ties there. We get the quarterly magazine. Sometimes I read it and sometimes I do not. This time around I did read it. As a piece of propaganda it is really very well done - as a source of entertainment - not really and as a source of truly useful information - well that remains to be seen.

This time around they are featuring clients who have with Firm X's help and guidance "Faced Down Disaster!" Normally I take this as the propaganda it is supposed to be and skim - but this article really held my attention.

The feature that highlights Joshua Hamby - who during the DOT.COM boom had the brainchild to create a medical information website - that would rival WedMD. He got the funding and lined up the talent - only to have the market turn and to be in a world of hurt. (We used to call this sideways in the biz!) Things went from bad to worse and it looked like he was going to lose his shirt and his investors' shirts as well. He turned to a former colleague and an adviser at Firm X. The advisor's advice was as follows:

"I told him to pick a date when he knew he could no longer stand the uncertainty of whether his business would fail. But until then, muster as much energy and creativity as you can to turn the business around. Then, what ever happens, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you did everything you possible to make the business succeed."

So in the end - thru some major leadership, some stock options (worthless at the time) and some fast footwork the site morphed and was ultimately sold for a tidy profit. He further lucked out when the buyer got acquired and his stock in that company shot up like a rocket.

I have heard this kind of story more than once - but it is the financial adviser's quote that stuck with me for days and made me reread the article. I think that is the key - "muster as much energy and creativity as you can...."

That is a powerful statement! Muster. Nothing worth doing is ever easy. I also think that "muster" implies really stretching, rethinking, regrouping, the entire bit. It implies - I think- going deep within yourself and pulling out that last little bit of whatever it is you have. Like gutting out the last few miles of the race. ( Which I can say is very satisfying but also very hard!)

I used to really fear failure - but over the last few years I have been reshaping what I think of as success and what I term failure. I have a different yard stick. I think the time frame is important - as with this example in the magazine - give it your all and be realistic with the time frame - then let the chips fall where they may. But at the end of the day you will know that you gave it your all.

In this case after the huge success - he went on to try a new venture - it is in his blood as they say.

I think it is valuable to to be realistic but to give yourself time to really make an honest and sincere effort. Achieving greatness will never happen overnight!

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