Life is better when you are at the top of your game. And when you excel in thought, word and deed, it rubs off on the people around you, whether it's your mate, kids, friends or coworkers. That's according to Ido Leffler, a serial entrepreneur and advisor who prides himself on influencing others. He's cofounder and CEO of school and office supply company Yoobi, which donates an item to a U.S. classroom for every item purchased. He's also founder and chairman of consumer goods company Brandless, an emeritus member of the United Nations Foundation Global Entrepreneur Council and was named to the Board of Trustees of the Asia Society where he is the co-chair of The Center for Global Education. He sits on the corporate boards of Spark New Zealand (formerly Telecom New Zealand), and Soma, among others, and serves as an advisor to several startups including Dollar Shave Club and Birchbox. He's also the cofounder of Yes To, Inc., Cheeky, and Beach House Group. Here are his words on how you can be at your very best, and motivate the people in your life to do the same.
1. Embrace your uniqueness.
My Australian-Israeli hybrid accent is a distinguishing characteristic that rarely goes unnoticed when I meet someone for my first time. Early in my career, it was a source of self-consciousness. Over time, however, I've come to appreciate my accent as an asset. It's what I consider a differentiator for me--it's hard to forget an encounter with a guy named Ido with a funny accent. Embrace those traits that make you unique--uniquely qualified, uniquely experienced, uniquely interesting. Embrace your uniqueness, channel confidence and you'll be amazed by how people respond.
2. Be a gambler by nature.
The best entrepreneurs are gamblers by nature. Entrepreneurship is inherently risky but it can also be amazingly rewarding and incredibly good fun. Successful entrepreneurs pair a healthy tolerance for risk with diligence, and unique and diverse experience. Don't be afraid to fail, learn and repeat as often as you can. Over time, trials and failures will make you a better entrepreneur and when you finally do achieve the big, improbable thing, you will appreciate success so much more.
3. Get the basics right.
You don't have to be some kind of infallible superhero to succeed in business. Being a visionary is less important than getting the basics right and being truly passionate about your business. Do your homework, know your numbers, cultivate relationships and take care of your people.
4. Default to yes.
Believe that anything is possible until proven impossible. When facing a challenge, assume it's always overcome-able. Be open to considering every solution that's brought to the table, and don't be afraid of those suggestions that are outside-of-the box. Think about all the stories you read of people who have gotten far and fast, both in business and life. They never default to "no."
5. Decision-making should be transparent.
Too much deference is paid to organizational hierarchy and the siloed decision-making model is far too common. When your team feels heard--whether they agree with the outcome or not--they're more likely to embrace the decision and invest in a successful outcome.
6. Lessons can be taught by anyone.
You can learn something from everyone you encounter in life, and in believing that, you should expose yourself to as many people, cultures, and perspectives as you can. This includes making trips to experience new and unfamiliar cultures and investing in the interactions you have in normal course of day-to-day life. Travel isn't about staying in high-end resorts, it's about the opportunity to understand new perspectives and how third-world experiences can lead to big-world solutions. The ability to move happily and easily between cultures is a valuable skill.
7. The path doesn't have to be traditional.
Don't worry about classes, or get hung up on your grades and academic credentials. The business world is filled with skills that can't be taught in a classroom. Know that your path will always be filled with questionable decisions and you shouldn't be afraid to move quickly, with your gut. Take the risks your parents didn't. Some people are inspired to take risks because their parents never did, and some carry on a family tradition of taking chances on long odds. Nontraditional learning experiences are as valuable as traditional ones, especially in business.
8. Have "good" in your DNA.
Good means operating a business in an ethical, moral way with equal regard to your customers, partners, the community, and the well-being of everyone involved in the production of products.