By Gino Blefari
This week my travels found me in Westlake Village, CA for the fourth annual T3 Summit—T3 because Technology, Trends and Thoughts all take center stage at the event. The Summit is hosted by the Swanepoel T3 Group, one of the most prominent information and management-consulting firms in the residential real estate industry led by real estate visionary, Stefan Swanepoel. This was my first time attending T3 Summit and I have to say it was simply terrific. I left the conference feeling not only inspired by the speakers and presentations but also enlightened to go back to work with a fresh perspective and outlook on what it means to lead.
The event began with an opening keynote speech from Rick Miller, former president of AT&T Global Services and current Chief at Being Chief LLC whose new book, Be Chief, will be published December 2016. From the outset, I immediately connected with Miller’s message about creating a road map and executing on a specific vision, especially because his version of success goes beyond the analytical and addresses the mentality necessary for goal-setting and achievement. Miller stressed the importance of meditation and how the right mindset can help accomplish any goal. Sometimes leaders shy away from the less data-driven aspects of success but I applauded Miller’s philosophy that leadership is all at once a physical, emotional and mental game. Have every piece in place and you won’t be able to stop yourself from winning.
Next up on the agenda was Paul Charron, former Chairman and CEO of Liz Claiborne Inc. and former Chairman of Campbell Soup Company. I had heard Charron speak in September at RISMedia’s CEO Exchange (you can read my thoughts about it here) and found my second time listening to even more illuminating. In fact, as he spoke, I furiously jotted down my favorite lines and by the time his keynote ended, had three pages filled with handwritten notes. Here are some of my key takeaways from Charron’s fascinating presentation:
- Smugness comes before arrogance and arrogance is the precursor to disaster. As I like to say, once you think you know it all, the slide to mediocrity has already begun.
- Businesses either change or die. A little harsh, yes, but it’s true that as a company, you’re either getting better or getting worse. This ever-changing state of business-being is why it’s so important for leaders to be the driving force to constantly moving things in a positive direction.
- A leader needs to see the future through his/her own lens. We’re all a collection of the knowledge we’ve acquired and the experiences we’ve had throughout our lives. This means our perspective is unlike anyone else’s and when we examine what our future should look like, it must be through our own unique lens.
- Numbers drive the train. Here Charron recommends keeping your CFO close because he/she is the member of your organization who will analyze a situation not from an emotional or ideological perspective but strictly by the numbers.
- Look to other industries for lessons on success and failure. There are countless stories of big-time success and epic failure from companies far beyond your own industry. Study and learn from these narratives so you can replicate the good and avoid the bad. Failure is failure and success is success no matter what industry you’re in.
- New eyes see old things in new ways. How can we make our eyes “new?” By bringing fresh ideas into the office each and every day. For me, this is exactly why I listen to so many books. Listening to the thoughts and ideas of others keeps my eyes new and allows me to bring a fresh perspective to an old problem or situation.
So what’s the message? Allow your mind to be clear and focused, do what you can to keep your perspective fresh and always stay true to your own vision of the future because you alone decide that tomorrow will be even better than today. I’ll keep all this in mind as I’m off to Omaha, where I’ll attend the 2016 Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting. The meeting is expected to draw almost 45,000 people taking in all things Berkshire Hathaway, including our very own booth at the exhibitor hall where shareholders can learn more about our brands. I expect this meeting to be an incredible opportunity to meet new faces, connect with old friends and share the lessons on leadership I’ve learned not only this week but also throughout my entire career.