Regardless of how you define success, getting there will never be an accident, but involves hard work, tenacity and a commitment to vision. That's according to Jeff Wehner, cofounder and COO of Haven, an online platform which connects commodity traders, food producers and shippers to thousands of logistics providers. Before starting his company, he oversaw manufacturing and supply chain strategy at Apple and was an early member of the operations team of Nest, which was acquired by Google. Here are his words on how anyone can succeed in business and life, given the right mindset.
1. Stay positive despite repeated setbacks.
Everyone has a favorite, pick-yourself-up-off-the-ground quote. To quote Steve Jobs, "Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith." That brick doesn't just hit one time, it hits over and over again. While at Apple, I managed the complex iPhone production cycle at factories in China. It often felt like nothing would go right. We'd even finish some days behind where we started. As our big launch dates neared and we geared up to announce the next great thing (like Apple just did with the iPhone X), saying "Sorry, had a bad week, you'll have to delay the iPhone announcement," just isn't an option. So I woke up each morning, ready for another brick and set my sights on staying positive for the road ahead. The key is not to let those setbacks drive you into a place where inaction feels better than action.
2. Embrace and search for diversity.
In 1997, Apple launched the "Think Different" campaign, and it was so popular internally that it became the corporate culture as well. At Haven, my mission is to challenge the status quo in the shipping industry, and to be a nimble and effective leader. We're a global company, so diversity is critical. I make a point to listen to and understand thoughts, feelings, and people who are different than me to become more adaptive. The same way that major brands don't use the same advertising campaigns across all regions, making sure that your and your company's mission is resonating with a diverse group of people is important for building a successful business. I've learned that pursuing understanding of diversity doesn't just help me get out of my comfort zone, it helps me speak more authentically to everyone.
3. Celebrate the wins, but don't dwell on them.
So we launched something great! Now what? Launch again. Then release an even better version. Since the moment Larry and Sergey first created the Google search algorithm, it has been continually refined. Business leaders can't stay stagnant or rest on success. We're only as good as our last launch or project. The iPod was an amazing business, and when the iPhone first came out it was clear that it would cut into iPod sales, but everyone at Apple felt that cannibalizing ourselves was better than letting someone else do it. In fact, Apple just added cellular to the Apple Watch, perhaps signaling the beginning of another fundamental move. Keep innovating alongside your wins. And of course, be sure to keep up the positive affirmations and congratulations to your team as you go.
4. Share your smart ideas.
It's human nature for people to present a good idea and then try to make sure that from that point forward, they're the sole owner and controller of that idea. Over time, I've come to realize that approach limits the growth and potential of ideas. At Google, we had large collaborative environments where everyone would come together to discuss new directions. The campus is designed to create spontaneous conversation and collaboration. Interaction between people at Google and Apple is key to those companies' successes. Ultimately, creating things in a collaborative environment helps all teammates win. Your team's success is your success.
5. Customize your approach.
Personality and relatability tests are common in the business world. But simply knowing that you're an ENTP or an ISFJ doesn't help you develop the most important skill in business and life: communication ability. As a leader, actively listening is an important trait that I work to develop on a daily basis. How well you communicate is key to how effective you are. While working with teams at Apple, Google, or Haven, I have tried to really consider how my communication resonates. Should I be more or less direct? Will sarcasm in humor resonate or fall flat? Is a high energy approach valuable or should it be more nuanced? At organizations like Apple and Google, being at the crossroads of both arts and technology is literally a competitive advantage, because they bring a wide group of people from liberal arts and math and science together, all with the goal to learn from each other. To accelerate that learning and sharing, adaptive communication is key.