Business Transformation

PILLARS OF SUCCESS

Steven J Manning

Success defies a universal definition. It is a complex paradigm.

On a macro basis, definitions of success differ widely, based on a variety of factors: social position, station and chronology in life, ethnicity, economics, geo-political, and more.

It is necessarily defined both qualitatively and quantitatively. It can be unique to individuals, people, groups of people, and populations. Success or lack of it is often dictated by necessity rather than choice. 

Most often, people define success in terms of the accumulation of wealth or professional achievement beyond what was likely based on one’s heritage, upbringing, and education. Finally, both in terms of real and perceived accomplishments.

Best be reminded that for many — billions of people — success is simply having adequate food and shelter. Tragically, for a large subset of those people, success is ordinary subsistence! 

For me, I have a rather pedestrian definition. The closest I get to defining success is to have options in life. Being able to seek and find satisfaction in life in ways that I want to and am able to pursue, not at the expense of others.

Four Pillars Of Success: the master plan. 

  1. ADOPT AND LEVERAGE THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT WORD IN LIFE AND BUSINESS. The ever-present options are:
    FREE: Everybody in advertising has been told by all the uber-brains that FREE is the most important word in advertising. Perhaps when Aaron Montgomery created the first direct mail catalog. OK: right into the 21st century.Now, every offer has a “FREE”. When everything is free, nothing is free! Free has no value. Not a revelation to overwhelmingly most consumers; it is just baked into everything sold. Consider the Rolls Royce buyer who is likely to walk away from the purchase if he or she does not get a free tank of gas. Albeit he or she knows they paid for that in spades! So a dealer told me…Mind the old maxim: “everybody wants something for nothing.” Wanting and getting —  for real — are horizons apart. “FREE” is just a marginally feelgood thing. Thus, on balance, I think “FREE” is just cheap.

    NO: You all heard life scientists expound that “NO” is the most important word. Actually, I don’t really know what life-scientists are. I expect those folks are degreed as are basket-weavers.  “NO!” Most of the time, “NO” is an ordinary, proverbial song and dance.

    YES:
    It is YES! The only option for those seeking success and willing to take steps and risks to achieve. It is “YES” people who forge ahead courageously when most seek reasons to say “NO”.

    It is “YES” people who know that if you are afraid of wolves, best not be wondering into the forest!* The forest of business is inhabited by all manner of wolves.

    “YES” people forge ahead courageously and mightily into that forest when they see opportunities. Opportunities they can:
    – quantify as to potential
    – qualify the downside liabilities
    Then they put on their big girl or boy skirts and pants, and wade into the trees in hot pursuit of their goals.

  2. NEVER CONSIDER FAILURE AN OPTION
    1)
    It is brainless to concede defeat.
    2) It is much easier to fail than to succeed.Understand that all successful people fail at things, often, remarkably and  repeatedly. What they all have in common is that their failures are never because of lack of effort or convictions. Rather: something just conceptually out of their grasp.  Churchill had this one on point: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”My ultimate take on failure — when that gig failed your take on exhausting homework notwithstanding: sometimes things that don’t make sense just don’t make sense. Balderdash you say? Nah. Sometimes—often, your gig failed because of something conceptually out of your grasp. Entirely. Right: there is that pesky shameless research thing. Please read on…

    In my view, there are 3 options in life: lead, follow or get out.

    Get out?
    What exactly is the point of that?
    ∙ It is mindless to concede defeat, even before giving the gig a yeoman’s try.
    ∙ It is much easier to fail than succeed. In that case, best be anticipating an inheritance windfall.

    Follow?
    Just get into the flow? Be ordinary? That is your path to obscurity. No. No. No. Never be ordinary!

    Lead!
    There are many ways to lead in life and business. The most elegant way is to be a thought-leader. To influence what people think. And even more importantly, how they think! That is the holy grail of leadership!

    Not parenthetic to this, I remain somewhat unclear on a lot about leadership. To wit, I wrote a piece titled: 72 Things A Leader Is Not. Perhaps a bit of a cop-out… Well, I hope you read my column titled LEADERSHIP HOMOGENIZED. [Glad to save you the search. Reach out by email or on Linkedin and I will send it to you.]

  3. HOMEWORK, HOMEWORK, EXHAUSTIVE HOMEWORK. BECOME A SHAMELESS RESEARCHER.∙ How much homework? Not enough! And when done, do some more!
    ∙ Being a shameless researcher dovetails exceptionally well with most people’s
    willingness, even eagerness, to share knowledge and extend meaningful help.
    ∙ There is no substitute for wisdom on the firing line. HOWEVER (in caps deliberately): getting on the firing line — some less brave talking heads call  that “getting into the trenches” — without having done all that exhaustive homework, is akin to  — sorry — unprotected sex.
  4. OUT-WORK AND OUT-THINK EVERYBODY.
    ∙ Out-think? That is only rarely if ever possible! But: give that a legitimate effort.    Surprises — shocking surprises? — come in all forms, shapes and sizes, at most unexpected however opportune times.∙ Out-work? That is absolutely possible. That you must do!

*I beg for forgiveness from all my ancestors and all virtuous people worldwide who may read this. Occurred to me that I paraphrased Stalin, of all people. What an amazing paradox about wolves and forests from the second most prolific butcher of humans in history!


Written by Steven J. Manning.
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Steven J. Manning
Steven J. Manning is an internationally-known business leader, author, public speaker and advisor. He a founder, CEO, principal, General Manager and Board Member of a number of enterprises in the US and Europe. He is credited with the origination of prominent creative and empirical concepts, targeting data base concepts, media strategies, promotional concepts, incentive devices and channels, and decision-making predictive techniques. All those are widely used in the marketing world. He has generated $47 billion in revenue of consumer products, services, and consultative endeavors.

In addition to successful owned and operated enterprises, he has generated revenue for and advised on a broad spectrum of matters over 70 major brands, including: CBS, Disney, DirectTV, Guthy Renker, IKEA, Provide Commerce, Kimberly-Clark, NBC, Netflix, WebMD, SONY, Telebrands, Time Warner, Toyota, LG, UMG, Milton Friedman University.

His professional and business relationships span the world. Those include captains of industry, world-renown educators, authors and thought-leaders, sports personalities. Steven J. Manning is an astute observer of people, society, business, and all matter of trends that effect all those. He writes and speaks extensively on pillars of entrepreneurial success, politics, economics, advertising, marketing, conflict resolution, writing, leadership and more, to various audiences including professional groups and institutes of higher learning.

His new book, Pimps Whores And Patrons Of Virtue is highly acclaimed around the world. His next books, Explaining Bitcoin To Buddhist Monks: So many things, events, served up in all media ways, are just incomprehensible. Might as well try explaining Bitcoin to Buddhist monks. And Thanks Oscar (Wilde) are in the works.


Steven J. Manning is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Connect with him on email at sjmanning@fymc.com or on LinkedIn.