In the trenches of business, it can be tough to finish each day smelling like a rose. YPO member Basel Binjabr knows that first hand. Like many ambitious professionals, he initially took the normal path to career success: got an MBA, put in the long hours, and worked his way up to running a financial investment firm. While being good at his job was satisfying, Binjabr wanted a project that felt more personal. He returned to a favorite child memory, his father's passion for antique rose essence perfume.

In 2013, he established a luxury perfume line of his own, Thameen, which he launched in the scent industry hub of London. Binjabr knew he was taking a risk in starting a small niche company in a market dominated by major companies. They had name recognition and whole stables of celebrity endorsements. Binjabr had only a good nose and the benefit of his father's teaching. Fortunately, these things helped him find his key differentiators: the ability to skillfully blend high quality ingredients. He explains: "In a scent, the main note can't be the only note, or it won't be differentiated from anything else in the market. The real secret is what you mix with the main note to make the smell noteworthy and memorable." Binjabr managed to create a line so original and pleasing that they have already expanded to Paris, Berlin, Munich and Zurich. In 2017, the brand will be available in four more countries.

As with perfume, Binjabr says that you can't build a successful life with just one note. You must carefully blend the right mix of passion and skills.

1. Be realistic.

Binjabr admits, "There's a big difference between passion and real business." Desire and motivation get you started, but it takes expertise to finish strong. "I had the passion, which was the most important part, but I had to teach myself the industry side." Find out how to apply your current skills to realizing your dreams, and what new knowledge you will need to keep moving ahead.

2. Read.

"Reading helps a leader grow," he insists. With that in mind, Binjabr reads every day to expand his knowledge on any topic he thinks may improve his life, from leadership to nutrition. He acknowledges that it can be difficult to find time or motivation to read; on days when he feels distracted or demotivated, he takes a book outside as he loves the outdoors. If you find yourself tempted to skip out on lifetime learning, find a way to incorporate it into activities you already enjoy.

3. Let it show.

People connect with leaders who can be emotionally open and enthusiastic. Binjabr believes that "Being unapproachable is dangerous and kills success." Some feel that showing enthusiasm or getting personal will make them vulnerable to professional attack. But people rarely wish to follow someone who is cold and inscrutable. It's better to err on the side of openness and engagement instead of playing it too cool.

4. Create a compelling vision.

Few people can achieve a dream all alone. Binjabr believes that "the ability to inspire a team and assist them in visualizing the future" is a key leadership trait. You must be able to create a clear, compelling vision for what is possible if you want your passion to become others' passion, too.

5. Explore others' passions.

"I love to know the personal passion of every individual I meet," he eagerly states. Asking about their interests and dreams helps build goodwill and personal connections. It also helps you identify points of intersection that can be leveraged for future collaboration and mutual benefit.

6. Give the right incentives and rewards.

In this day and age, it has become clear that on size definitely does not fit all when it comes to motivation. According to Binjabr, "You need to know the personalities of your employees, because different personalities value different kinds of recognition. Some want promotion. Some want praise. Others value raises, or recognition of their families. You need to know what each one considers real appreciation." Once you know where your team members' passions lie, you can incentivize them and reward them in the most meaningful ways.

Each week on his podcast, Kevin has conversations with members of the YPO, the world's premiere peer-to-peer organization for chief executives, eligible at age 45 or younger.

Published on: Jul 21, 2017
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