Peer Power Blog
This blog is about the power of peers in the IT space. It is designed as a place to share things I have learned the past 24+ years running a business as well as meeting the growing demands of business owners we experience leading the Heartland Tech Groups - a peer group network for IT business owners.
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This past week at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference I had the opportunity to hear Sir Richard Branson as the guest keynote speaker. He shared some of his success and wisdom with the audience – and I found it to be very interesting and motivating. One of the key statements he made involved his approach to life: “Screw it, let’s do it”. He is all about taking risk (calculated and controlled) but taking action. Far too often we sit back thinking about ideas rather than getting after it and making things happen.
He also shared his most important life lesson -- "Forgive your enemies, the world is too small to hang on to the past”. That is fabulous wisdom. Far too many people spend their lives looking back being controlled by the past. Things happen – relationships go bad – and we have two choices to make – to dwell on the past or move forward into the future. Branson shared a few examples of how he had taken action to work to create relationships with people that were considered enemies. It really is about choosing to do that. You have to take action. Life is short – don’t waste it being bitter.
He spoke openly that many businesses really have a long way to go to ready their workplace for the future. He told us we need to “Be more accommodating - job sharing, part-time positions, unpaid leave...and job sharing creates more jobs and is good for people and the company.” That is a hard pill for many of us to take who grew up with the 8-5 workday mentality. But there were numerous sessions at this event that focused on the new workforce and it is changing quickly. We will have 5 generations in the workplace by the end of this decade and their needs and expectations are very different. We have to change how we approach our teams.
Risk was another area he talked about. He isn’t afraid of it at all – which is a choice. But most importantly he told us “Never bet the farm; always know what you are putting at risk.” Not every attempt will succeed – and you can’t put yourself in a place where you have put everything you have on the line if it doesn’t work. It is about good planning and risk control. Whenever we choose to enter something new and untested we have to plan for the worst so we don’t make a mistake that ends our options. Take bold risks but protect the downside.
He also told us “You lay down the rules but remember rules are made to be broken.” There has to be a balance between what you expect and when you allow some creativity and flexibility. There are times when you need to ignore your own rules and do what has to be done. It is reality.
And one of the more important things he talked about was that “partnering is more difficult than marriage. Both need to bring it all to the party.” I found it interesting that he talked about marriage as much as he did. It was a somewhat reflective message – which appeared to contain some real regret about some of the choices he had made in the past and a focus on his legacy for the future. He mentioned Jesus Christ as one of the three people he would like to talk with. My take was that he realizes and has learned that there are results from the choices we make – and he has made some he would like to do over. He was somewhat transparent at that level.
He did tell us he was “taking his children to space in the next year or two” – so he isn’t afraid to trust what he believes in and make things happen. The real message I took away was the need to think differently from the norm – not be controlled by what is normal or safe – and make intentional choices to do what you believe. The world is changing – there are lots of opportunities out there – but it takes action to make those a reality. We need to choose to take control of life and our future. We can make it happen. Screw it – we just need to go do it!
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