This time last week, I was catching up on sleep after another epic Glastonbury weekend. Every time I return from this iconic festival, I leave feeling creatively energised, but particularly so after watching this year's headliners, Foo Fighters. Having watched Dave Grohl's career go from strength to strength since I was a student back in the 90s, I thought it would be interesting to see whether an artist's tips for success can be applied to the field of work and business.
Whilst we tend to look to famous entrepreneurs for advice on how to be successful in our careers, the best advice comes from all spheres of talent. So, I dug out this article from last year to apply advice from a rock legend to the every day business of business.
Here is my (commercial) interpretation of his ten rules for success.
1. You have to be great - These days most markets in which we operate are fairly saturated. Whatever you sell or do needs to be great; better than your competition and better than you were last month or last year. Include mechanisms for continuous improvement in whatever you do, keep an eye on your competitors and anticipate changes in the market.
2. Figure it out - Richard Branson is famously quoted as saying "If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you're not sure you can do it, say yes - and the learn how to do it later." I would extend that to having a good idea for a business. For those of us who have been lucky enough to have one, we often have to figure it out as we go. There is advice out there, but there is no bespoke handbook for your unique situation or journey. At some point, you will have to work it out for yourself.
3. Chase your dreams - Let your imagination run wild with the potential for your ideas. This is where the magic happens. The world's biggest brands didn't materialise from leaders thinking small or being too 'realistic'.
4. Don't lose your personality - Having an authentic voice is becoming more appealing to customers. It's an easy way to set yourself apart from your competitors, and if you create a brand to ensure its voice resonates with that of your customers, you are a big step closer to winning them over.
5. Experiment - I don't know many successful business owners who haven't had to try different approaches, people and methodologies to find the winning formula. It's rare to get everything right the first time. You have to think creatively, with a diverse team of people and make mistakes to make it work, in my experience. So, don't be afraid to spend a bit of money, take a few risks and let a few ideas fail in your run-up to glory.
6. Do your own thing - It's easy to want to try and emulate the success of a Cap Gemini by copying Cap Gemini, but what's really appealing to a customer base is working with or buying from a brand that is unique and authentic.
7. Find balance - I find my extra-curricular activities - whether mentoring for the Prince's Trust or listening to live music - all help to make me more creative, productive and successful at my day job. From being a 14-hour a day employee to a self-employed consultant with more spare time, I have not only improved my quality of life, but have also worked on many diverse projects; none of which would have materialised without the headspace created by a balanced life. Help your employees to find balance, too. You will see an improvement in their results.
8. Just do it - Don't be a perfectionist. Perfectionism has prevented so many good ideas getting off the ground, because after a while it stops you "getting on with it". For any business or idea to succeed, at some point you just need to do it. You will always need to review and refine along the way. No one produces the finished article before it launches, but endless amounts of preparation and deliberation are just as likely to kill an idea in its tracks, as a poorly executed one.
9. Cherish your voice - I meet many 'wannabe' entrepreneurs who run their business ideas past me, and nearly all of them have had the experience of their ideas being drowned out by naysayers. Your idea is an expression of who you are and that should never be shot down. Feedback is good, but make sure it's from the people that matter - your employees and your customers. I have watched businesses flourish when I have advised clients to ignore negative opinions from friends and family, and focus on getting a good product or service out to their customers.
10. Love what you do - I sometimes watch Gordon Ramsay rescuing failing restaurants on TV; the most frequent reason for this being the owner's loss of passion for their business. Whether it's taking an exotic holiday, or spending time with successful people in your network, find what energises you and ensure the flame stays alive. When you are enthusiastic about what you do, your customers and employees will be, too.
(Warning - some choice rock n roll language in the full article below!)
The most important thing is that whatever you’re doing, it’s a representation of your voice. Whatever it is, the most important thing is that it’s your voice, that it’s coming from you.