I recently traveled to San Diego where I encountered many old friends, made several new ones and took home a wealth of knowledge. Among the new things I acquired, I thought I’d share with you five lessons I learned from this year’s Summit.
1. How to vision for your life.
When you “vision,” you should do it as if you’re in the present—though you’re really speaking on some date in the future. For example, “It is January 1st, 2015, and our company has averaged a 20% growth over the last two years! I also just bought my dream car, graduated from graduate school…” and so on and so forth. You should be specific—as specific as possible. Visioning isn’t just for business. Visioning exercises are healthy for all aspects of our lives. I learned this valuable lesson from Ari Weinzweig of Zingerman’s Deli.
2. Open book management is about money.
I’m a huge fan of open book management. I use it in my own company, I preach it wherever I go, I even wrote about it in It’s My Company Too! Jack Stack of SRC Holdings, author of The Great Game of Business and a great friend of mine, continues to teach me new things surrounding this concept each time we meet. Where is open book management? How can we grow it? What can I do to grow my organization’s profit and my paycheck? All of these questions and plenty more can be answered by Mr. Stack.
3. Trust and Track.
“Trust and track” is a more effective way of leading when compared to “command and control.” I’ve seen this firsthand, as a former command and control officer who adopted new ways and substituted them for his old ways, I’ve lived the transformation myself. Nick Sarillo of Nick’s Pizza and Pub is a huge proponent of this operating system as well. This system empowers more staff to make decisions quickly—which increases customer service levels and develops individual critical decision making skills.
4. Entrepreneurial exit plans are not a contingency.
They’re necessary! Or, should I say, they’re necessary in building a sustainable business. Bo Burlingham continues to teach me this. Talking to entrepreneurs who have exited is critical in building a plan for your own exit and for your life after the exit. Something must be waiting on the other side of the rainbow, because if there isn’t, then the entrepreneur will suffer emotionally.
5. American businesses are better at building corporate culture and employee engagement than Japanese businesses.
The traditional Japanese way of life—which was also the foundation for their business culture—has been impacted greatly by the integration of other nationalities and ethnicities. I learned this concept from Shinobu Ishizuka of Dyna-Search, who says that the US has taken the lead in this transformational process. I’m proud to feel like the belief I share in strong company culture and employee engagement is making an impact in company cultures around the world.