Getting people to change is never easy. If you have ever tried to woo a customer away from a competitor, convince a family member to shift their opinions, or just change one of your own habits, you already know this. Influencing enough people to change an entire industry--that's a rare feat! But it is also the hope on which many entrepreneurs gamble their resources.
Rao Mulpuri, a YPO member working in the Silicon Valley, literally wants to change the way people see the world--particularly how they think about the space in which they live and work. So he and his partners developed a company aimed at disrupting the largest industry in the world: real estate.
That company, View, uses nanotechnology and digital technology to manufacture dynamic glass. Their smart windows can respond to the sun or tint on demand, allowing users to forego blinds or shades. Their product has been installed in over 20 million square feet of building space across a variety of markets such as corporate offices, healthcare, higher education, multi-family and airports.
On the path to helping his customers overcome their doubts about new ideas, learn to relax, and enjoy the view, Mulpuri also learned some important lessons about what it takes to transform the world.
1. If you're taking a risk, make it count.
"If you are going to take a big risk in starting a new venture, make it count. In other words, your vision has to be ambitious for success to be meaningful," Mulpuri says. Many people lower their sights or expectations when they encounter resistance, but he believes in keeping your dreams big. What's the satisfaction in the same small wins that others have made before you?
2. Never settle for less than the best people.
Mulpuri believes there can be no compromise in hiring and managing your workforce: "If your mission is truly great, you can never allow mediocrity in anything you do. When you're in the transformation business, there is no room anywhere for 'passable' performance. You must demand excellence of yourself and your colleagues in everything." Select people who are highly capable AND fully committed to the mission, then keep them motivated to bring their A game every day.
3. Build a culture of learning.
Even the best people don't stay great if they don't grow. If you want to be able to see and seize all of the opportunities that pop up, a culture of learning will give your team the necessary skills. "Plus, no matter how great your strategy, planning and execution, things will go wrong," he warns. "Sometimes it's impossible to foresee an obstacle coming. Our emphasis on learning helps our company put aside blame, dig for the truth, and recover more quickly."
4. Commit to making a complete product.
"History's dustbin is full of great ideas that failed due to poor or incomplete execution," Mulpuri insists. "If you don't aim to make your products complete--the best they can be--the most you can hope for is niche success. Look at smartphones. They existed for a while, but it wasn't until Apple built the iPhone that the industry really took off." The higher you set the bar, the more costly it can be to build something. But bringing out the first truly complete product in a category may create a tipping point for irreversible change. It's a rare privilege to truly transform an industry.
5. Nurture a belief that will carry you.
Anyone who wishes to create real, profound change will face significant challenges. Mulpuri has found that passionate belief in View's mission carries him through tough times. "Even if you have the greatest dream and best intentions when a difficult problem arises, it is natural to question your abilities or the viability of the mission. If you let something become just a job, it is easy to give up. Instead, you need to let your mission be what gives meaning to your life." Believing in the mission makes it worthwhile to fight against all odds toward a transformative outcome.
Each week Kevin explores exclusive stories inside YPO, the world's premier peer-to-peer organization for chief executives, eligible at age 45 or younger.