Randy H. Nelson, an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) strategic alliance partner for EO Raleigh-Durham, is a founding member and 20-year veteran of that chapter. He's an author, speaker and CEO of Gold Dolphins, a coaching firm that helps business leaders achieve their maximum potential. As an experienced thought-leader in the entrepreneurial space, we asked Randy what life lessons he shares with coaching clients to help them grow. Here's what he shared:
I've been an entrepreneur for almost 30 years, with two decades of those as an EO member. I've spent thousands of hours in entrepreneurial and leadership conversations. As an EO chapter sponsor and executive coach, I get the opportunity to share my wisdom with peers as they, and each of you, proudly build and live your entrepreneurial dreams around the globe.
One critical factor that I've embraced in my entrepreneurial journey is that life teaches lessons through the perspective of "Both And" rather than "Either Or." I call these "And" lessons.
Here are seven "And" lessons learned, from both my personal experience of building multiple businesses that produced over $1 billion in sales and my current career as a thought leader in the entrepreneurial space:
- Say Yes and No. Entrepreneurs are risk-takers: You learn to trust your instincts and dive head-first into the entrepreneurial world. We say, "Yes!" The very best of us, though, learn to say Yes and No. Saying No becomes even more critical as you become more successful in your career. If Steve Jobs could successfully apply this strategy, then you should be able to as well.
- You'll experience great successes and miserable failures. I've seen first-hand that "trees don't grow to the skies." In other words, I learned through experience that an entrepreneurial career is filled with great successes and miserable failures. I've experienced the successful building and, ultimately, the sale of two businesses and the downsizing of both of those companies by over 70 percent. Just like leaves on a tree, the longer you remain an entrepreneur, you must embrace the fact that there will be periods of growth, change and decline.
- You'll need creativity and discipline. Entrepreneurship alone is not enough to remain successful throughout an entrepreneurial lifetime--creativity must meet discipline along the way for your organization to truly achieve its potential. The very best learn that creativity and discipline are not opposites, but rather complementary and necessary skills that every organization must possess.
- Instill entrepreneurship and leadership. Tenured entrepreneurs embrace both entrepreneurship and leadership. The transition from a business being about "you" to it being about the highest needs of the company is a critical success indicator for long-term growth. The best understand that leadership is necessary--whether through you or other people. Your business would never have launched without you, but it can be successful long after you're gone if you instill a thriving culture of entrepreneurship and leadership.
- Blend work and life. It takes a ton of work to become successful--both in business and in life. There are consequences to your decisions, and it's impossible to be the very best entrepreneurial and home version of yourself at the same time. But, you can blend work and life, so you become the very best you're capable of.
- Embrace answers and questions. Self-confidence is a huge and critical component of success, and it remains so throughout your entrepreneurial career. It's also crucial to learn that you don't need to have all the right answers, but rather need to improve your ability to ask the right questions. The very best embrace the fact that it is a strength, not a weakness to say, "I don't know, what do you think?" Answers and questions.
- Learning and implementation = lifetime success. Lifelong learning--even with the And Lessons--is simply not enough. The very best embrace that learning and implementation lead to lifetime success. Many successful companies have learning cultures and may even consistently win "best places to work" awards. Those who also focus on implementation will indeed reap the rewards of your efforts more than those who embrace learning alone.
I like to say that the growth of a company is limited by the growth of its leaders, and specifically, the growth of its founder.
If I were to add an eighth lesson learned, it would be to ensure you are tracking both leading and lagging indicators and tracking both quantity and quality metrics.
As you evolve in your career and commit to growing your skills, I encourage you to continue to add the "Ands" to your lifelong learning. It will ensure that you are building not only a growth company but also a quality growth company that will continue to be a market leader well into the future.