In order to be a successful owner of a growing business, I believe that a strong will and strong opinions are critical. Without having an absolute determination to succeed (strong will) and an unshakeable vision (strong opinions), I don’t think an entrepreneur stands a chance.
On the other hand, I also believe in team work.
One of the most successful entrepreneurs of the late 19th and early 20th centuries was quoted in a 1931 article entitled “Spunk Never Cost a Man a Job Worth Having” as saying:
“When two men always agree, one of them is unnecessary”
In the article, this titan of American business made the point that “business is built by men who care – enough to disagree, fight it out to a finish…” He also said “Likewise, one of the biggest pests in business is the carbon copy – the fellow who always says: ‘Yes, Mr. Wrigly, you’re absolutely right.”
What William Wrigly, Jr., who made a fortune selling chewing gum, knew was that he didn’t know everything, wasn’t always right, and needed a team of people strong enough to compliment his vision, entrepreneurial instincts, and determination with their own ideas and the courage to put them forward. What Mr. Wrigly also understood was that to be successful he needed to be willing to listen and to create an atmosphere in which taking risk was not only acceptable but required for his employees.
In our business, we talk about “pushing the envelope,” and we regularly remind team members that mistakes and failures are the desired evidence of that. We encourage courage. We do this because we understand Mr. Wrigley’s essential point, and we know that very little in human life, much less business, is ever accomplished by one person acting alone. It is almost always a team with members who complement each other and led by someone with vision yet strong enough to listen that succeeds.
As we begin the New Year, I’m inspired by this bit of wisdom from the past, and I think it’s something worth chewing over. How about you?