Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Who you callin' Bill Gates!?

We recently purchased a cordless vacuum for UNCS. With 5,000 sq feet of Limestone, the place is like a dust bunny – hence the vacuum. I am constantly roaming the halls, as for the first time in 8 years, my office is in a place where I am isolated from everyone else (which I am sure no one would complain about). By walking around, I get the benefit of all the “madness” that goes on around here and how it motivates everyone(but I also see the dust). So from time to time I grab the vacuum and start cleaning. A feat that would make my mother very proud! As I was doing my daily “house work” on Friday, I asked our CFO if he thought Bill Gates does this. A rhetorical question at that, but he answered me by saying, “I bet he would”. That started my mind going……

While I don’t know Bill Gates on a personal level, I found myself thinking about him a lot over the next few days. Does he do mundane everyday tasks at his office? Or was he so isolated in his last years at Microsoft that he sat in a Golden Palace corner office with a leather couch and the coolest new gadgets while his team did all the real work? I would venture to say NOT A CHANCE! As the CEO of a small but growing company, Bill is someone that I aspire to be like. Then again, I am sure most CEOs, and most people for that matter, would aspire to be like Bill. But I am not talking about Bill, the guy with private jets, servants and big houses….. although a Net Jet membership would be really cool! I am talking about Bill the builder, Bill the philanthropist and Bill the human being. Starting a company from nothing is no easy task. Regardless of what college you attended or how innovative the idea, it is difficult when you don’t have a ton of cash to get you started. But I truly believe that when you build it from nothing, the taste of success is that much sweeter, and as it seems in Bill’s case, keeps you all the more grounded. As I reflect on the last 8 years and how greatly we have changed as a company, and myself as a leader, I wonder what Bill thinks about. But any entrepreneur I have ever met, regardless of their age, financial status, or level of success, seems to share the same thought process- Here is where we are, that is where we started, and how do I use the knowledge of yesterday and the light from today to pave the road for a successful future?!.

I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t aspire for UNCS to be like Microsoft one day. Reality- not likely! Let’s face it- Microsoft is a behemoth that is a rarity. However, that doesn’t stop me from dreaming! I still keep my eye on the prize and set plateaus of success that I want to achieve, not only as a company, but as a human being. These days you hear more about Bill in the context of his charitable foundation versus “the Man behind Microsoft”. Personally, I think his generous contributions to society represent his biggest success of all (as I type this on Microsoft XP J). What an amazing thing to “grow up” and become a philanthropist! How many people can do that? EVERYONE! While I am not going to turn this blog into a soap box forum to tell all business owners to give away half their fortune, I do think as leaders, whether the company has 1 employee or 100,000, we have a social responsibility to lead our team to greatness- Greatness in the boardroom, greatness in our respective marketplace and greatness in social awareness. Sorry, I’m digressing. My point is that we are all operate our own version of Microsoft and each one of us is Bill Gates. Our companies may not have billions in revenues or a fleet of planes, but we have the same wants, desires, concerns, and victories when we hit our goals.

What keeps those going versus those who close their doors? I have no special secret for that. I have read every business book in print, and while every author claims to have the recipe to keep your company going, make you millions, motivate your sale force, etc. etc. etc. – no one truly knows the secret. If I had to try and pigeon hole an answer, it would be you! You the CEO, you the secretary, you the sales manager, you the person that cleans up at night. What ultimately made Bill Gates a success? People. The people you surround yourself with have the ability to make you happy or ruin your day. Make your company fail or make your company prosper beyond belief! So after 4 paragraphs of rant, the point of it all is to surround yourself with your success. Many of you have heard me say, repeatedly, that in no way is all this about the destination, but the journey we travel to get there. You start paving the path and with the right people around you, the bricks will keep laying themselves. It will veer at times with many bumps, and that’s ok, because don’t think for one minute that good ole Mr. Gates hasn’t hit some speed bumps, but he always seems to get back on the path didn’t he!?

UNCS made the Inc. Magazine list of 5,000 fastest growing privately held companies yesterday. A list that at one time Microsoft sat on. I am humbled and honored to be in such amazing company as our fellow 4,999 recipients of this year’s honorees and those that have been on the list in the past. #3,501, a number so ringing in my conversations this week that my mom has plaid it on Florida Lotto Pick 4! J The 16+ people that I am lucky enough to share these walls with 5 days a week are the sole reason that we made that list. People. In the end, that’s what it comes down to. People. We surpassed our goal of being number 5,000, so in the words of a good friend of mine, “Call me when you are #1”!

Last night I heard someone say something to the effect of “if we hit our goals, we have not succeeded, only when we surpass our goals can we enjoy success”. Regardless of what your goal is or how you define success, you absolutely possess the tools and innate ability to get there. Lay the path, start the journey, and most of all ENJOY THE RIDE!

Until next time……

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