FORBES 1 Day Ago
by John Hall
There’s an obvious list of things to keep in mind as a leader: treat people well, hold your values, and help others. However, when you get overwhelmingly busy, something always falls through the cracks. You need a reminder now and then. I attended Big Omaha this year, and it was quite an experience because several of the speakers offered reminders I needed to hear. Here are some of the takeaways I walked away with:
1. Words matter, so be careful what you say.
Dave McClure experienced every speaker’s worst nightmare during his speech at Big Omaha. He got caught up in the heat of the moment and called a woman a pretty derogatory name. He didn’t mean for it to come out as harshly as it sounded, but Twitter streams blew up, condemning him as a sexist jerk. Dave’s actually a good guy who seems to be pretty nice to women, but his words trapped him in a situation that MacGyver couldn’t get out of. When you find yourself in a heated moment, remember that words can cause as much damage to your career as an ill-timed pivot.
2. Stand up for what’s right — no matter which relationship you put at risk.
Some pretty epic speaker screw-ups have happened at conferences before, but I’ve never seen a conference organizer stand up and apologize for one. Jeff Slobotski and Dusty Davidson of Silicon Prairie News went on stage and apologized for Dave’s slip-up. It takes a lot of courage to do something like that, but Jeff and Dusty knew it was the right thing to do. By standing up for what was right, they gained a lot of respect — and it explains why they have such a loyal following. You might lose a relationship or two in the process, but ultimately, you will gain loyal customers and partners when you take a stance for what is right.
3. Be happy — and don’t fake it.
It’s no secret that being a leader isn’t as glamorous as many think. People who seem to have everything can end up being as depressed as a bum on the street. Noah Kagan gave a very transparent speech about how he was making more money than ever, but his happiness was at an all-time low. He was hiring just to show people that the company was the real deal. He was making decisions based on what others thought, rather than his own happiness. It’s a common problem to associate your definition of success with what other people believe success is. However, should success be based on a miserable billionaire’s standards — or by the definition offered by someone who it truly happy with what he has? Remind yourself to seek success according to your own happiness standards, not other people’s opinions.
4. Don’t jump the gun.
Diana Kander gave an amazing speech describing an analogy between pregnancy and having an idea. In her explanation, the beginning of your idea is the point of conception, and you obviously can’t jump from conception to a healthy toddler in a day (i.e. jumping from an idea to having a successful company). She discussed how, like a baby, your idea needs a gestational period; you need to nurture it and address your riskiest assumptions. The message behind this speech was to not run on “hunches” you have about your idea and jump in without doing proper research.
5. Second chances can make a huge difference.
We all make mistakes, and none of us are perfect. I was blessed to have loving parents, which helped me get on the right track. Others aren’t so blessed, and they end up in jail — where they simply learn how to be better criminals. Catherine Rohr from Defy Ventures is leading the way by recognizing that people deserve second chances. Defy Ventures is funded and managed by a group of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who recognize that many former drug dealers and gang leaders share skillsets and talents with top business leaders. Her company should inspire all of us to put our judgmental opinions aside and award second chances to the people who can truly add value to our businesses.
When we’re consumed with our daily routines and the minute details of our companies, we can get distracted and forget some of the things that are truly important. While not all of the reminders we receive are so public, it’s important to take them seriously — they can get us back on track just when we need it.
John Hall is the CEO of Influence & Co., an agency that specializes in helping companies, entrepreneurs and business leaders build their brands by getting their quality content published in reputable online publications that reach their target markets. Connect with him on Twitter or Google+.