Monday, November 23, 2009

Be Your Own CEO of the Decade

Steve Jobs was deemed to be the CEO of the Decade by Fortune Magazine. As they put it, he not only revolutionized one industry, but he revolutionized four industries. And he did it when there were already other established leaders in each, unlike his compatriots Josiah Wedgwood (chinamaker), John D. Rockefeller (oil), Andrew Carnegie (steel), Henry Ford (automobiles) and Estée Lauder (make-up).

After reading the 31 page exposé about him, one thought struck me like a wall of bricks crashing down: how do I ensure that I am more than a footnote in history? Will I ever leave a lasting impression on something more than just a gravestone?

The only effect I seem to be leaving right at this moment is the effect that I'm not as good a planner as I thought I was. I intended on writing about a few things I read in Entrepreneur, but due to the fact that we are moving from Long Island, New York to New Jersey on Wednesday I mistakenly packed the issue in question away and don't remember in which box it went. This is an unfortunately good illustration of something else I read in the same issue of Fortune: "good execution beats a bad idea."

The author, Wilbur Ross (CEO of W.L. Ross & Co.), described his experience buying mediocre performing steel companies and then combining them to form International Steel and the steps he took to turn them around so that the combined strength was greater than the sum of the parts. In effect, the great execution of his acquisition plans more than compensated for the fact that the companies he purchased where not in the best financial health.

The opposite effect can be seen in my predicament for this week. I know I write a blog entry every week; I knew when I read that issue of Entrepreneur that I wanted to use it for this week's entry; yet I not only neglected to leave it on the coffee table, but I also packed it away in a box that is in a community of 7 stacks of boxes (piled 5 high) making it virtually impossible to find.

Translating this to the original question ("how do I leave a mark on the world [of business]?"), one should realize that any idea is better than no idea. After all, the quality of the idea will not amount to a hill of beans in the long run. Instead, it is the forethought that you put into the execution plan and its eventual execution that will really separate you from the rest of the pack.

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