This is an article I originally published on 09/03/2010, but the advice
is still very timely today so I updated and reposted here.
One of the great things about new digital platforms like open.NASA is that they allow us to easily connect, share, discover and expand our experiences. This includes sharing with each other those experiences that inspire us and impact the way we see the world. I thought I’d share a talk I heard while attending the MBA program at the University of Texas by entrepreneur, Gary Hoover. Hoover created Hoovers.com, the world’s largest Internet-based provider of information about enterprises and is also well know for essentially creating the big box bookstore we know today. His pioneering venture, Bookstop, was eventually sold to Barnes & Noble and became a cornerstone for their industry-dominating superstore chain. Hoover is the “Entrepreneur-in-Residence” at McCombs Business School and spends much of his time today sharing his experience about creating and building lasting enterprises and inspiring students to do the same.
Hoover speaks regularly and always includes a list of 8 key ideas on how to create successful enterprises - a list that he has refined throughout his career. He’s shared this list over 700 times on every continent but Antarctica. This list is also the topic of a book he wrote in 2001, called “Hoover’s Vision: Original Thinking for Business Success.” The rest of this post includes the detailed list (as posted on Hoover’s personal website) and a link to his webinar and the slides. My hope in sharing this with you today is to spread these great ideas further, challenge us all to think differently, and inspire us to continue to do things that amplify our impact and reach.
Gary Hoovers 8 Keys to Creating and Building Lasting Enterprises
1.Curiosity — nothing is ever discovered by looking in the same place as everyone else, or looking in the same way as everyone else. All discovery starts with exploration. Ask alot of questions. Go beyond the first “why.” Study the mundane, the “everyday.” Travel, observe, talk to people. Read, go to concerts, try new things. Look at other industries. The answers are rarely where you expect to find them. Opportunities are everywhere.
2.History — you can’t know where you are going if you don’t know where you are coming from. Watching key long-term trends is a critical part of successful leadership. What are some of the trends to watch today? What large demographic shifts are at work? What can be learned from the leaders of the past, including those in your own industry and company?
3.Geography — we all come from somewhere, we all grew up somewhere. In a shrinking world, it is more important than ever to understand people and places. Do you know the population of your metropolitan area? Do you know the growth rates of your county and surrounding counties? Do you know what is going on in countries around the world, which places are rising and falling and why? What are people leaving some places and moving to others?
(I believe the above three mindsets are the keys to dreaming up innovative new ideas that relate to the real needs of real people. Once you have a mission in mind, the points below kick into gear.)
4.Clarity of Vision — can any third-grader understand your vision? Or are you trapped in double-speak and buzzwords, an alphabet soup of acronyms, and jargon?
5.Consistency of Vision — do you stick to what you are good at and what you believe in, through thick and thin? Do you have a consistentpurpose?
6.Service — the only valid reason for the existence of an enterprise is to deliver products and services to people, to somehow make the world a better place. The minute you think that power resides in the boardroom or in Washington, or that your company can be made great through making good deals or acquisitions, rather than through focusing on the customers, you are most likely at the beginning of the end. Serving others well must be the top priority – your other stakeholders including suppliers, community, investors, and employees will then have something to share.
7.Unique Vision — do you sound and look like all your competitors or do you stand out, following a unique path that is true to your enterprise and your soul? Differentiation is the key.
8.Passion — if you aren’t doing something you love, you will never be the best at it!