Ramonna and I are at the Inc. 500|5000 Conference (#Inc5000) in Phoenix and started our morning by listening to Simon Sinek, the inspirational author of Start with Why. His audience? A group of ADD-challenged, private U.S. business owners who got less than a desirable amount of sleep last night after watching the aftermath of the debate and consuming far too many mashed potatoes, quesadillas and dirty martinis (not in that order). If anyone could cause this group to wake up, it was Simon.
His basic question? What do you want on your tombstone? It’s not about the awards you receive or the success you build. It doesn’t matter what you do. It matters WHY you do it. What do you believe in? It made me think about the why behind the way we live our life at GFM and what I actually believe in.
- I laugh at my mistakes because I make a lot of them and I want others to know that it is OK to fail.
- I support nonprofits because I believe in giving back and I want others to believe that service and community are important.
- I have my own furniture in the office and ask others to choose their furniture and art because I want their office to feel like a home.
- I schedule my week around my kids’ activities and appointments because I want others to know family is important.
- I wear jeans because it’s comfortable and I want others to feel comfortable.
- I don’t believe in office hours because neither life nor work starts or stops at specific times.
- I walk away from situations and opportunities that, while potentially financially profitable, would never make our team feel good about the work they were doing.
- I celebrate failures because you would never learn the lesson otherwise.
- I act the same way at the office as I do in other parts of my life. I believe that transparency and authenticity is the only thing that truly matters when you are in the trenches.
- I rarely look at resumes when hiring. I hire from my gut. I do this because if this person works with us, I want them to also trust their instinct.
- I don’t rely on analysis. I appreciate the fact it is available. I also know that our best decisions have come from the heart.
- I sleep on it because it always seems clearer in the morning. I want our team to know it is fine to take a moment before making important decisions.
- I hire people smarter than me and try and get out of their way because success and humanity are about the community, not the founder.
- I trust my partner and know that she will see things differently than I do and that is what makes us stronger.
- I recognize the team because they are the reason businesses succeed or fail and they are the why in everything we do.
As Simon said best this morning, leadership requires tremendous courage. But why am I proud of the company I helped create? It’s because of what we stand for.