This article is part of a series on strategies and hacks of self-made billionaire entrepreneurs. We divided it into eight parts: Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett, Ray Dalio, Jeff Bezos, Elizabeth Holmes, Steve Jobs, Reid Hoffman, and Elon Musk.
Billionaire Entrepreneur Strategy:
Having a powerful vision is essential for all entrepreneurs, but if you are going to excel, your stakeholders need to buy into your vision.
That's where most people fail. For many, the vision ends up becoming a few lines of mission-speak on their corporate website.
Yet, there are other leaders like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk who seem to have the superpower to distort reality. After listening to them, it feels like their vision of the world is inevitable and critical.
It is easy to attribute this ability to charisma, but there is a case to be made that Jobs was just really good at storytelling, which is a learnable skill.
According to academic studies on storytelling, great stories transport others into a whole other world and, in doing so, alter their beliefs, cause a loss of access to real-world facts, evoke emotions, and significantly reduce their ability to detect inaccuracies.
Throughout history, visionary storytellers have changed the course of societies and industries:
Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream' speech:
"I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood."
Elon Musk's explanation of why our civilization should become multi-planetary:
"What are important steps in the evolution of life? .... I would argue that on that scale should be life becoming multi-planetary."
Steve Jobs' introduction of the iPhone:
"Every once in awhile a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything. One is very fortunate to work on just one of these in their career. Apple's been very fortunate. It's been able to introduce a few of these into the world... Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone."
Malala Yousafzai's vision for peace shared during United Nations Speech:
"So let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first."
Billionaire Entrepreneur Hacks:
1. Turn Your Vision Into A Detailed Story And Picture
1-800-GOT-JUNK? founder and CEO Brian Scudamore captures his company's vision through a document called the Painted Picture.
In vivid detail, the document explains what Scudamore expects the company to be like in 3 to 5 years. This description includes both quantitative details (like the number of people the company will employ and how many locations it will have) and qualitative ones (like how employees will describe the culture to their families).
The Painted Picture was paramount in 1-800-GOT-JUNK? growing its revenues to more than $100 million, Scudamore says. He recommends the following steps "retreat, visualize, and ask" to create your own:
- What is your top-line revenue?
- How many people are on your team?
- How would your people describe the culture of your company when talking to a family member?
- What is the press saying about your business? Be as specific as possible: what would your local paper say about your company? What would your favorite magazine say?
- What do your people love about your vision and where the company is headed?
- How would a customer describe their experience with you? What would they say to their best friend?
- What accomplishment are you most proud of? What accomplishment are your people most proud of?
- What do you do better than anyone else on the planet?
- Describe your office environment in detail.
- Describe your service area. Who are your customers and how do they feel?
As an additional resource, read Brian Scudamore's article on the science-backed reasons that creating a vision is so powerful.
2. Share Your Vision Often And Everywhere
Cameron Herold, author of Double Double, CEO coach and globally renowned speaker has helped tens of thousands of high growth entrepreneurs and leaders from 6 continents create a Vivid Vision for their organizations.
One of the biggest mistakes that Herold sees leaders make is keeping their vision to themselves rather than sharing it with others.
He recommends sharing your Vivid Vision as widely and as often as you can. This means sharing it with your team, family and friends, investors, media, customers, potential employees, and partners. He explains why:
"When you're a startup just getting traction, you can't offer the salary and benefits that a world-class employee would normally get at a large company. You haven't accomplished a lot that you can talk to the media about. So, what you're always selling is the sizzle; not the steak. The sizzle is your vision!"
A few ways and reasons that Herold recommends sharing your vision with different stakeholders include:Media Exposure. Herold recommends turning every conversation with the media into a conversation about the vision, "What makes a company like Uber get covered 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 only get a fraction of the media coverage." Employee Filtering. Herold says that the Vivid Vision should act like a magnet; it should attract those who are committed and repel those who aren't. He shares one example of what one of his CEO clients told his employees after sharing the vivid vision with them for the first time, "15% of you hated what you heard. That's alright. Now's an ok time for you to leave. 5% of you loved it. Let's build it. This is what we're working toward." Customer Relationships. Herold advises his clients to send out the vivid vision quarterly to their customers, "90% clients may not care, but even if just a few do, you'll be able to take your relationship to a whole new level." Employee Alignment. Herold says that sharing the vision internally leads to more clarity, less in-fighting, and less bureaucracy, because there isn't confusion about what everyone is working toward. It's crystal clear and not questionable. Herold recommends that every quarter, employees reread the vivid vision as a team and do a few things: Highlight each sentence with green, yellow, and red depending on how it's doing so everyone can visually see how the vision is coming alive. Share how they individually can make each sentence of the vivid vision come true. Circle sentences that really excite them and read those sentences out loud. Executive / Board Alignment. In a Forbes interview, Herold recommends having one executive read all or part of the vivid vision at the beginning of your meetings meetings with executive and board members.
Navigate The Series:Charlie Munger (billionaire investor): Analyze what can go wrong instead of what can go right. Warren Buffett (billionaire investor): Use checklists to avoid stupid mistakes. Ray Dalio (billionaire investor): Learn how to think independently so you can be smarter than everyone else. Jeff Bezos (Amazon founder): Invest in what will NOT change instead of only what will change Elizabeth Holmes (31-year-old billionaire): Be laser focused on a single problem with no backup plan for your career. Steve Jobs (Apple co-founder): Use storytelling to make your vision more compelling; not mission-speak. Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn founder): Build deep, long-term relationships that give you insider knowledge. Elon Musk (SpaceX and Tesla co-founder): Use decision trees to make better decisions.