As you would know if you read the “About” section on the site, I strongly believe that in order to achieve success, you have to engage not only people’s minds, but also their hearts. I think not only is this true in engaging customers and employees, but that it’s also critical to success in selling a product or starting a business. Lately, as I’ve been reading and listening to business leaders, this has been extremely prevalent in what they credit their success to.
I recently re-read Jim Collins book Good to Great – a must-read for anyone who is interested in achieving greatness in business. One of the concepts discussed in the book is the Hedgehog Concept. It truly hits the engagement nail on the head. The key is in the intersection of three circles – What you are deeply passionate about (I’d call this emotional engagement), what drives your economic engine (rational engagement), and what you can be the best in the world at (I think of this as a bit of both). Through Collins’ extensive study, he found that companies who were able to reach long-term success focused on all three of these. Simply knowing rationally that a business will be profitable is not enough – you must truly be passionate about it in order to achieve.
Three very successful business people stand out in my mind when I think about this concept of passion about business – Donald Trump, Tony Hsieh, and Biz Stone.
Donald Trump has said that he would never sell a product that he wasn’t passionate about. He’s quoted as saying “Without passion you don’t have energy, without energy you have nothing.” Trump himself is extremely passionate about real estate, and has created wild success in this area. He frequently speaks about passion during his hit show, “The Apprentice” as well. It’s easy to see how Trump’s passion creates persistence and ultimately helped to lead him to success.
Tony Hsieh is the founder and CEO of Zappos.com, which was purchased by Amazon in 2009, but which he still runs as CEO. In his book, Delivering Happiness , Hsieh talks a lot about his passion for his business, and tells a compelling story of one of his earlier ventures, LinkExchange, and how, once the passion and excitement was gone, he knew it was time to leave. He is extremely passionate about the corporate culture at Zappos, and in fact, Zappos’ successs is build on this as its #1 priority. The company’s purpose is “delivering happiness to the world”, and employees, customers and visitors to Zappos certainly attest to that achievement. This is apparent in the fact that, even after being acquired, Zappos actually moved up 8 slots in Fortune magazine’s “Best Companies to Work for”, to 15th on the list.
In the final chapter of his book, “End Game”, Hsieh writes about pursuing the goal of happiness and about the science of Happiness, according to various researchers. It’s a great read, and very connected to the concept of engaging Hearts and Minds. I loved this book, and was truly inspired by Tony Hsieh’s ability to mission being accomplished. Hsieh’s story and the success of Zappos are truly inspirational, and a perfect case study of the Hearts and Minds strategy of engagement.
Finally, very recently, Biz Stone, one of the three co-foudners of Twitter, was recently interviewed by Howard Stern. I wrote about some of the points from his interview in a recent post – to read that post, click here. Biz talked about an earlier venture, called Odeo, which was essentially an easy way to create podcasts. He and his partners had plenty of venture capitalists invested, the product was effective, but they weren’t “emotionally invested” in it. For that reason, they took a couple of weeks to develop something that was “totally different, and “more fun”. They developed the concept of Twitter. Biz is passionate about Twitter making a difference globally and this passion translates into great success. Twitter has received several offers of acquisition but the cofounders believe they have more to develop in order to achieve Twitter’s potential.
Passion in your product or business is essential to achieving true success. Without it, your venture may achieve results, but in the long-term, it will not help you through to the higher purpose which we all look to.
My question to you: What are you passionate about? How can you turn that into a business? If you can do that, you will be well on your way to success!