Updated: Oct 21, 2019
"Many Hands Make Life Works!" Perspective of these Texas Business Legends!
I had the amazing opportunity to attend the 37th Annual Texas Business Hall of Fame 2019 Induction activities a few days ago in San Antonio & it was life changing for literally everyone. I want to share some of the many insights I gathered as fast as my hands could take notes!
A little bit of background first. The Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation honors the accomplishments & contributions of outstanding business leaders in our State. Their story is celebrated to perpetuate their entrepreneurial spirit, personal integrity & community leadership in all generations of Texans. Scholarship is also awarded at 24 universities around the state to rising business leaders with an early record of excellence in business innovation, community service & civic responsibility. I'm very proud to say DBU is one of the 24 outstanding universities represented at these annual events & this year, 4 outstanding future Texas business legends each received $15,000 toward fulfillment of their dreams.
Scholarship alone is life changing, no doubt about it. Then added to opportunities to receive advice from these inspirational Texas business leaders takes it to the WOW! category for me. Not only advice, but to hear about mistakes they have made & what they did to persevere, what shaped them into the person they are today, & to have the moment to piece together themes that are common amongst all of them in addition to their unique styles? I call that priceless.
Taken from the left in the image above, are the 6 inducted into the 2019 Texas Business Hall of Fame:
1. Richard W. Fisher - Former President & CEO Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
2. George C. "Tim" Hixon (Posthumous) - Director Emeritus, Hixon Properties Inc.
3. Bill Miller Family - Bill Miller Bar-B-Q
4. Kendra Scott - CEO & Founder Kendra Scott
5. Robert F. Smith - Founder, Chairman & CEO Vista Equity Partners
6. Graham Weston - CEO Weston Ventures
During the luncheon, the 36 scholars had the opportunity to ask questions of the Legends & I wrote as fast as I could in my journal (thank you, Bruce Waller...Milestones!) to capture the essence of the answers to each of these very insightful questions. Generally, they all had input, & quite naturally it happened that way. I'm going to give the questions / answers next & then I will pull out with just a list of the powerful, common themes at the end.
1. How to scale yourself when you're in so many different things?
No one has all the needed strengths for any business & that's why you need the best people around you. If your strength(s) is marketing, finance, business operations, that's what you bring to each of your endeavors, to any business, & you stay with your strengths & let others stick to theirs.
You must have a passion for "it." We did things ourselves & we all had the fire of passion.
2. How do you handle adversity?
Bare down & dig in. You CAN overcome & you'll be better from it. Don't let it knock you down. ALL greats have failed.
Ask yourself "what was my part in "this" adversity, look at me first.
Share the hard news with all on your team. Face the adversity with people who care for & about you.
Keep a positive attitude & you will get "there." Relationships are key & that you pick yourself up every time. Look at people you admire & how they got through it. It's the jockey that is typically bet on, not the horse, so to speak. Look at whose been down & how they handled it, who do you most admire in such situations.
3. How to develop corporate culture?
People don't work for you. You work for the people. Lead by example. You represent & enable them. Be a brilliant follower! Walk the talk, you set the pace.
Leading is finding commonality & what / where all aspire to get. Do what you say you are going to do.
When evaluating a new startup, look for great ideas. Can the people pull it off. Find out what the trends are indicating. People can have weaknesses, businesses can't.
Keep an open mind & pray for luck.
4. How did you start?
Newspaper boy, I found out what people wanted & how to provide it.
Sold eggs door to door for $.35 a dozen.
Sold hogs raised at home until the pork scare changed everything. That experience taught me I didn't want to be in the commodity business. Sold Cokes next door.
Took advantage of spot opportunities as the markets were changing.
5. What was your hardest lesson learned?
Not buying property in downtown Austin when I had the chance.
Leadership sometimes just has to change in order for the organization to thrive.
Realizing when running for public office I wasn't the right fit for it.
No matter how good you may be, somebody else is going to be better. You just won't always win.
6. Skills needed by all of us for the future?
Computer science should be your business minor.
Know how you can use technology to enable innovation. It doesn't matter the business whether retail, real estate, construction, etc.
7. What's your long term strategy?
Have the best & most talented people around you; they will figure out to do what needs to be done, the best ways to do anything. Creative thinkers are critical success factors for sustaining any business.
8. Rewarding advice received?
Don't peak early. Give yourself time to build skills.
Take a risk, test your skills & move around.
Learn how to read people.
Give back. We are just all obligated to give back. Find your passion & what can also pay you a living wage. If you find the passion, it's not work.
Find the right boss, the right mentor.
No matter what you do, be all in. If it's gardening, kids, work - it's all the same - we've got to be all in every day in every way.
Accept hard truths.
9. Values that served you best? Golden Rule & being consistent day after day after day.
Be careful of the company you keep, select wisely. Be the right one for others, too.
Comments collected throughout the panel Q&A & related to success factors:
Keep it simple. Do the right thing always. Team up with others who have done great things, get a mentor, be around the right people meaning highest integrity & who work hard. You must sell yourself & your ideas.
Figure out what "we" want from work beyond the obvious. Valued members meaning employees feed off a winning team & inspiring mission.
No debt & don't run out of cash.
Read before you think. Think before you read. Think before you speak.
Never give up your integrity. Never compromise your integrity.
Don't do business with customers who have values different than yours.
Keep your customers happy. Maximize word-of-mouth marketing strategy.
Maintain strong balance sheet.
Use vision at all times & in all things.
Always have insurance (& plan B) as ultimately you are going to lose. It is inevitable. You'll be better for the experience as humbling as it always is.
Remember you are working for the people you love.
The right relationships are critical.
Ethics - if there's a question, don't do it.
Stand on principle.
Success is dependent upon relationships & connection in all aspects of life.
As promised above:
7 Powerful Common Themes:
1. Never compromise integrity.
2. Relationships & connection are critical success factors.
3. Be a brilliant follower & always open to innovative ideas.
4. People don't work for you, you work for them.
5. Everyone makes mistakes. What matters is how you handle them.
6. Have the best people around you, the most creative, the most talented.
7. Don't be afraid to take a risk.
See what I mean about this being a powerfully WOW moment, & definitely life changing?
Call To Action:
Use the 7 Powerful Common Themes to discuss & share the direct meanings & some specific examples within each with those closest to you . Expand the conversation to those within your networks albeit personal & professional. Let's get a dialogue going!
Check out the Texas Business Hall of Fame https://texasbusiness.org to learn a whole lot more about all the great impact being made on all of our lives through their inspirational efforts.