Skip Prichard is the best-selling author of The Book of Mistakes and president and chief executive of OCLC. The Harvard Business Review noted Prichard as “standout example” of CEO engagement on social media, writing that he “blogs on leadership and shares insights from his favorite authors – often with no direct benefit to him or his organization.”
Despite his busy schedule, Skip was kind enough to share with me his thoughts on his new book, entrepreneurship, and of course, mistakes.
How did you come up with the idea for your best-selling book, The Book of Mistakes?
After reading thousands of books on success, and interviewing over 1,000 people, I began to see some common themes in the most successful people. When coupled with my experience as a CEO and additional research studies, the nine mistakes were born. I believe that we identify more with people’s struggles than their successes. I then decided to write it in a story format because I wanted it to be something that would engage readers on many levels. Studies show that stories are more memorable than facts alone.
Who was this book written for?
The book was written for anyone at an inflection point. It may be starting a career or contemplating a new business or someone making a job change or retiring. At these points, we have a unique opportunity to reflect and contemplate our past and look forward to creating a better future.
Why do you feel it resonates with readers?
I’m so glad it is resonating with readers. As an author, you just never know until it is out there. Many are telling me that they are engaged in the storyline. Several have told me that they are able to see their own decisions more clearly with the framework.
I’m sure you had mentors guiding you when you were younger, as you are now to a new generation. Who helped guide you?
Many people, books, and seminars have contributed to my thinking. From the spiritual to the financial, I have mentors in every category of life. Huge influences on me range from Zig Ziglar to Jim Rohn to Dr. Charles Stanley. The list goes on and on.
What was the greatest lesson that you were taught by a mentor on your entrepreneurial journey?
Jim Rohn said, “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” I share this philosophy with all of my employees because it’s vitally important to begin the personal development journey. If you are always working on you, you are constantly expanding your potential.
If there is one message you want to get across in this book, what would it be?
Take personal responsibility for your future. Where you end up depends on what you put into your mind today.
I’m sure you’ve had your fair share of mistakes, what was yours and what did you learn from it?
At various times, I have made all nine of the mistakes in this book. It is how we respond and how we recover from our mistakes that make all the difference. If I find myself making excuses, even to myself, I stop myself and recalibrate my direction. It’s easy to point fingers and harder to be accountable, yet that is where greatness starts.
Generally speaking, each generation seems to have a weakness. What do you feel today’s Millennials struggle with?
I love the Millennial generation. They have a passion to better the world and make a lasting difference. Because of technology, they have more distractions than any previous generation. Learning to push aside these distractions is crucially important to success.
What is the most common mistake that you find executives and CEOs make?
I think one common mistake is focusing on the short-term at the expense of the long-term. This is an easy trap because of the unending pressure for immediate results. We often do not have enough time for reflection and are rushed into the next decision.
You’re the CEO of a multimillion-dollar company, how do you find the time to get everything done?
I’m constantly pushing myself to be more efficient, to surround myself with people with skills that complement my own, and to eliminate distractions that do not take me toward my goals.
I’ve heard you read a book a day, how do you do it? (I’m a time management expert, so I love to share ways to be more productive.)
Two main reasons. One is that I am a very fast reader and have learned from some amazing speed readers. And two is my sleep pattern. People think it is a badge of honor, but I wish this wasn’t part of my DNA: I am an insomniac who only needs a few hours of sleep each night. Those extra hours each day help me do more.
I know you’re a fan of Jim Rohn, what is your favorite quote of his?
There are so many Jim Rohn quotes that I cannot begin to pick a favorite. One of my favorites is, “Success is only a few simple disciplines practiced every day. Failure is just a few errors in judgment repeated every day.” The words I most treasure from Jim are the ones he shared with me personally. He was a remarkable leader.
So many times, our parents teach us the greatest lessons, what is one thing you learned from yours?
I’ve written about leadership lessons from both mom and dad in the past. One of the greatest lessons is that personal power is more important than positional power.
I heard you have interviewed over 1000 successful people. What was the most surprising thing you learned from talking to them?
To me, the most surprising thing in talking to the most successful people is how willing they are to share their failures and mistakes (thus, The Book of Mistakes!). I recall interviewing baseball great, John Smoltz. Here is a baseball legend, a World Series Champion, a Cy Young winner, and he is talking to me about failure and why it is so important. Remarkable.
You talk about getting out of our comfort zones, exposing ourselves to new ideas. I love traveling to achieve this, is there a location you might suggest people visit to learn from?
I’m a globe trotter, and yet I find we can learn as much from traveling across a room as across the world. There are people that cross our paths every day that can teach us incredible lessons. Right around us are people who can teach us what it’s like to be from a different religion, race, culture, or class than our own. Learn to listen and absorb the wisdom, and it will change you.
If people would like to learn more about leadership and success, what other book, program or podcast would you suggest?
I’m always pointing to other books and resources on my website www.skipprichard.com. I love to share the books and sites that are inspiring me each week.