Every issue of Twin Cities Business showcases leaders across the state, whether from Fortune 500s, family businesses or early stage companies, and often shares how they grapple with challenges, overcome adversity and continue to achieve. We hope their examples benefit you as much as they do us, as we face our own challenges.
A recent event offered more insight on the meaning of success, and how to achieve it. EY’s annual Strategic Growth Forum in November attracts about 2,000 of the nation’s top CEOs, entrepreneurs, advisors, investors and thought leaders. The forum, and the regional Entrepreneur of the Year events that lead to it, remind us that the entrepreneurial spirit is essential everywhere, and can be especially crucial in established, large corporations as much as at scrappy startups. The speakers tackle leadership—real in-the-trenches-leadership—at a personal level, exploring some of the most important issues of our time. This event, more than any other I’ve attended, gives leaders new ideas, and reaffirms what they’re doing or know they should do, leaving them renewed and recommitted to their strategy and purpose.
There were several outstanding speakers, and I jotted down quotes from nearly all of them. The most pertinent: Tennis world champion Billie Jean King, a social activist and one of Life magazine’s 100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century; and two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback and Super Bowl XL MVP Peyton Manning.
On defining success:“Three things: Relationships are everything; keep learning, and keep learning how to learn; and be a problem solver. Every time [I saw] somebody that looked happy and successful—outward success—these three things kept coming up. It might be just one of them, two of them or all of them. And there are some other things, such as be your authentic self, but these three things [are key].”
On what makes a champion: “I never thought I was great. I never thought I was good enough. I always wanted to be better than in the last match. What separates the ones who really win big versus the others, we have this ability to recharge our batteries everyday better than the others. You can be exhausted and wake up in the morning, and you have a big match. How [do you recharge]? By winning more. Which takes time. And then resiliency is huge. There are three parts to being great, whatever you do: your head, your heart and your guts. And bring all of yourself to something, all of the time. Most players, not just in tennis, usually only have two of those things going. You need all three, every moment.”
On staying the course: “Make up your mind on what you’re going to do, and then be totally committed. It’s like in business, your life, your children, everything: It’s commitment. Not involvement, commitment. There’s a huge difference. The greatest people in the world are totally committed to what they do. And they take breaks; self-awareness is very important.”
[Editor's Note: These comments were meant to be shared only with participants at the EY event and are excluded from the online version of this column.]