This is a guest post from Cameron Herold, author of Double Double, CEO coach and globally renowned speaker.
When Mark Zuckerberg really wants to hire a major recruit, he uses the power of vision.
Here's how one such recruit described what happened when Zuckerberg took him on a walk to a scenic overlook of Silicon Valley:
"He pointed out Apple's headquarters, then Hewlett-Packard and a number of other big tech companies. Then he pointed to Facebook and said that it would eventually be bigger than all of the companies he had just mentioned, and that if I joined the company, I could be a part of it all."
Tech entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and Elon Musk seem to magically use their vision to attract and retain world-class talent, become media darlings, and establish meteoric valuations.
So why does their vision work like magic while most people's vision collects dust?
For more than a decade, I've studied how fast-growth and iconic entrepreneurs use their company's vision to 10x their growth. Here's what they do differently...
They turn their vision into a tool that they use on a daily basis in their business. They share it with ALL of their stakeholders (media, potential and current employees, investors, customers, suppliers, and board members). Then the vision attracts the right stakeholders, inspires them, and aligns them under a common purpose.
Most entrepreneurs, on the other hand, relegate their vision to a few sentences on the 'about' page of their website and their business plan.
Here's how to share your vision with all of your stakeholders like Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Uber and Elon Musk do...
Over the years, I've seen the power of a Vivid VisionTM first-hand. I was the COO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? when its revenues went from a few million to over $100 million. More recently, I've coached thousands of fast growth entrepreneurs who've grown companies to millions and even billions in revenue.
Based on my experiences, here are 8 battle-tested hacks to share your vision with your stakeholders.
Hack #1) Talk To The Media Like Elon Musk: Always Talk About The Future
Every conversation with the media should be about your vision.
The media is in the business of reporting on stories, and the vision of what you could be is almost always a more compelling story than the details of where you are now.
If the media asks you how many employees you have, instead of saying "three," say "In three years we'll have 120." In other words, if a reporter asks you about facts, also give them projected facts.
Because Elon Musk constantly shares his vision, his companies have become media darlings. People now associate SpaceX with becoming multi-planetary and colonizing Mars and Tesla with helping to solve the world's energy crisis.
Hack #2) Attract World-Class Talent Like Steve Jobs: Sell The Sizzle, Not The Steak
Let's say you were looking for a condo to rent. If you walked into a condo and you saw dirty floors and old appliances, you wouldn't rent the place.
But if the landlord said, "We're going to paint the walls. We are going to get new appliances. Let me walk you to a unit next door that's an example of how it will look," you'd suddenly be interested again. The vision of the future would change how you look at the condo NOW.
In the same way, your company vision will attract world-class talent who would otherwise say 'no.'
In 1977, Rob Campbell, a star programmer, was invited by Steve Jobs to meet for lunch. Apple had just been formed. Steve Jobs was not yet 'THE Steve Jobs.'
Campbell asked Jobs, "What is your vision for the personal computer?" Jobs went on to share his vision with Campbell of how personal computers were going to revolutionize everything.
Over 30 years later, Jobs's talk still gave Campbell goosebumps: "Vision was the one thing that separated Steve Jobs from the other [offers I was receiving]," he said.
The early Macintosh team had exactly the same hiring filter. If someone's eyes didn't light up when they showed them the Macintosh prototype, they weren't hired.
Hack #3) Improve Your Company's Culture: Read The Vivid Vision Together
The importance of clarity is well understood in the field of architecture. Before a house is built, clear schematics-down to the inch-are agreed upon. Imagine builders trying to build a house with only vague schematics. It would be against the law! The same should apply to building your company. When you have a clear vision that everyone understands and follows, there is more fluid cooperation.
When you first share your vision, I recommend having a meeting with all of your employees where everyone:
Here's what Google HR chief Laslo Bock had to say on the power of vision in attracting, retaining, and influencing employees:
"The translation of our mission into something real and tangible has a huge effect on who decides to join Google, how much engagement and creativity they bring to this place, and even on how they feel and behave after leaving."
Hack #4) Motivate Your Team: Review The Vivid Vision Quarterly And Make It Actionable
Every employee at your company should be intimately familiar with your vision, be excited by it, and see how their work directly impacts it.
Here's how I recommend you share your Vivid Vision with your team on an ongoing basis in order to get that excitement. Every quarter, have a meeting with your employees where everyone:
At MCI Global, one of the biggest convention planners in the world, at every meeting with three or more employees someone must read one paragraph from the Vivid Vision.
Doing this makes sure that the Vivid Vision is always top-of-mind for all of their employees.
They started doing this in 2009 when they were at $100 million in revenue. Today, they are at roughly $700 million, and they're about to do their third Vivid Vision.
CEO Sebastian Tondeur credits the Vivid Vision as a key part of their growth.
Hack #5) Turn Your Customers Into True Fans: Make Your Vivid Vision Pretty And Share It Quarterly
If you want to get larger customers who are long-term partners that depend on you, then you need to show them that you can handle their business in the future.
Imagine trying to marry someone without knowing where they want to go in their life. Becoming a long-term customer is not unlike marriage in this way.
Therefore, I recommend sending your Vivid Vision to your customers quarterly.
Telelink, which has 150 employees, actually landed a $1 million customer because their customer was so excited about what their company was going to look like in the future.
The Vivid Vision gave the customer the confidence that Telelink could handle a very large customer with growing needs.
Hack #6) Turn Suppliers Into Partners: Show Them How You Will Be A Big Customer For Them
When suppliers see your big vision, they get excited, because they're going to be able to sell you more in the future. As a result, they treat you better NOW.
This means discounts, good credit terms, and great customer service.
Dental Choice, which has 120 employees, sent the Vivid Vision to one of their suppliers, an IT company. The CEO read it and shared it with all of the staff assigned to their company.
Hans Herchen, the CEO of Dental Choice, explains what happened next: "They felt it aligned very much with their business vision and were very inspired to come meet us and participate in our growth. Beyond being a better partner for our company, they also were a sponsor of our annual event. They told us they became a sponsor because they loved our culture."
Hack #7) Get The Buy-In Of Your Board Of Directors: Have Everyone Read The Vivid Vision Before And During Each Meeting
When your advisors can see the future, they're able to make introductions and think about the business the same way you do.
I recommend having one executive read all or part of the Vivid Vision at the beginning of your meetings with board members. I also recommend having board members read it before the meetings.
For people who are only working with you every 2-3 months, the Vivid Vision really keeps them focused.
Medicomp, a provider of cardiac heart monitoring equipment, got the board to adopt the Vivid Vision three years ago.
Now, the tables have turned. When CEO Tony Balda says something off-vision, the board gets him back on track.
Hack #8) Increase Your Valuation: Use Your Vivid Vision To Justify Your Valuation
When equity investors value a startup company, a large part of the valuation is based on the potential exit.
If you take the time to create a large Vivid Vision that is compelling and credible, your valuation will increase.
Internet companies have become really good at this. They're able to attract investors by selling them on the future dream.
What makes a company like Uber get a $60 billion valuation is not the fact that it's a taxi service; it's the story that Uber is completely changing the transportation industry. If companies like Uber only talked about what they did now, they'd be boring and they'd be valued at a much lower level.