Friday, January 26, 2007

Humble Pie is Best Served A La Mode

I just watched Serena Williams defy all odds as an unseeded player to beat the #1 competitor for the Australian Open. The first time an unseeded entry has done so since 1978. It was amazing, inspirational, moving.

How can we take glory on the sporting field and translate it to business? How can our execs and entrepreneurs and founders have the hearts of champions and the souls of winners? Well, we know what Warren Buffet would say: bet on people, bet on the leaders of tomorrow, because today they are humble, and they are hungry.

I tend to agree with that. Young up-and-comers have a lot to prove and the energy and desire to do so. Especially the ones who know you can’t be a home run champion right off the bat. You have to practice your swing, work for the singles, the stolen bases, learn the signs. A truly successful rookie is smart enough to know his strengths and humble enough to work on his weaknesses. Those are the competitors that rely on humility, honesty, and compassion to get the job done – and that’s why people want to work with them.

There are some Venture Capitalists that would agree with me – and just as many that wouldn’t. There’s one of the latter group that hangs out in a coffee shop in Queen Anne, near my home. Everyone – even the baristas – call him the Vulture Capitalist. Why? Does he work humbly and compassionately to win the hearts of his customers before winning their pocketbooks? I don’t have to name names. We all know who are the guys in the black hats and who are the guys in white.

I just want to reiterate to all those young, hungry bucks out there something that my boss at Gartner Group told me when I was starting out. “Do the best that you can. Be honorable. Be a leader. Winners always know who the movers and shakers are.”

So, young champions. Work hard. Get dirt on your hands and sweat on your brow. But most of all be true, be honest, and be fair – and one day you’ll find yourself at the top, surrounded by people who love, respect, and admire you, and who you can rely on in return.



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