Saturday, October 16, 2010

Golden Wisdom

In the last few months, I have come to develop a greater appreciation for the incredible wisdom of our elders.  Maybe this comes from the time my wife and I spend on weekly Meals on Wheels deliveries.  Or perhaps it's my hope that as I am getting older, younger generations will find something useful in what I have to say.

I received my latest installment of aged wisdom from the 90 year old man who sits near me at our local high school football games.  At a recent game, while I was visiting with him at half time, this gentleman told me the incredible story of his father's journey to the United States in the early 1900's.  My friend and his wife presented a fascinating tale of how his grandfather divided a bag of gold coins among his children the night before their village was to be raided and told them to flee under cover of darkness and to spread their family to the ends of the earth.  With nothing but a few pieces of gold and the clothes on his back, my friend's then 15 year old father made his way from the mountainous Middle Eastern village that had been his ancestral home for centuries to the Boston Harbor, and eventually to Nashville where he became a successful and wealthy business man.

As my friend finished the story he held out his hand and showed me a gold ring with a small gold coin inlaid in its face.  He told me the ring was made with one of the coins his father had brought with him on his journey.  He then explained that gold had saved his father's life and gold would continue to provide security for his family's future.

As impressive as that story was, it was my friend's next statement that I found to be even more noteworthy.  He looked directly into my eyes and said:  "Let me tell you something.  Gold is a secure investment and gold saved my family, but nothing will secure your future better than integrity and a strong work ethic."

Gold, or any wealth by itself is finite.  Left alone, it will eventually run out.  The gold my friend's grandfather gave his children for their escape was enough to secure their freedom and to ensure a continuing family bloodline, but little more.  Once my friend's father arrived in the US, it was his work ethic and moral compass that turned a few remaining gold coins into a thriving business and a family fortune.  This poor immigrant didn't hope for success, or wait for a handout; he worked for his fortune and he earned security for himself and his family.

By combining a strong desire to work for success and a core set of values upon which your life is based, your life will be golden too, just as the life of my friend had been.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Simple Sells - Passion Wins

This summer, Facebook topped half a billion subscribers.  To put this in context, in 2002 the entire world-wide web had the same number of users.  Now, one single website has reached that mark.  The continuing explosive growth of virtual connectivity never ceases to amaze me.

But, I digress...

More interesting to me than the number of Facebook subscribers was a quote I heard on the radio after the announcement.  A business analyst on our local Fox affiliate said this about Facebook's milestone:  "Something clean, well designed and easy to use can be incredibly successful."

As I reflected on his insight, I realized how absolutely right he was; not just about Facebook, but about business in general.

Simply put - Simple Sells.  Some of the world's most successful ideas are also some of the least complex.  To wit:  Post It Notes, Paperclips, Frisbees and Windshield Sun Shades.  In each of these cases, it wasn't the complexity of the idea or the impressiveness of the technology, but rather the simple, purpose driven design that led to success.

How many times have you seen a product in a store or on TV and said to yourself:  "That is so simple, I should have thought of it."  Or worse:  "I did think of that, but I never pursued it."  The point is this -   ideas are everywhere.  If you have an idea that solves a problem or fills a void, it's likely that others have the same need.  The idea doesn't need to be complicated, as long as it has a purpose.  The simpler the better.

What is more important than the sophistication of an idea are its utility and the originator's passion.  Even the best idea will wither without the nourishment of passion.  Passion will greatly enhance the odds of success.  Passion gets past obstacles and heals the wounds of rejection.  Passion is what fuels perseverance and creativity.  Passion is most often what differentiates between an idea remaining an idea and an idea that becomes a business reality.

A simple idea combined with a deep passion for its value will find a home in the global marketplace.