When I was asked to deliver a college commencement speech several years ago, a friend of mine suggested I reflect on my many years of business experience and talk about the 10 lessons I would like to share with graduates about the journey that is business and life.
Here they are.
No. 1: There is nothing more important in life than relationships. Relationships could be with family, friends, faith or community. On their deathbed, the thing that people reflect on is relationships. If it’s that important at the end of life, it should be at the top all your life.
No. 2: It’s always important to add value. No matter what you’re doing, ask yourself, “Am I making a difference? Am I making a contribution? Am I going above and beyond?”
No. 3: Solving problems. Once, my son asked, “What is the difference between going to school and being in the business world?” I said, “Well, in school, you have to be good at what you do. And in business, you have to know who is good at what they do.”
No. 4: About 80 percent of success is choosing the right people. To be world-class, you have to have the right people in the right place. You have to engage your constituents, your customers and your co-workers. If you can get people emotionally involved and engage them, you can move mountains.
No. 5: We are not all called to do extraordinary things, but everybody has to do ordinary things extraordinarily. Many times people say, “When I get to be very successful, I can do this or this.” I think we miss many opportunities every day.
No. 6: Management consultant Peter Drucker once wrote, “Wherever you find something getting done, you find a monomaniac with a mission.” At some point, you have to be so single-focused and have such drive, work ethic, energy and will to spend the amount of time it takes to be the best at what you do — and simultaneously balance your life to be a peak performer.
No. 7: If you don’t know where you are going and what you’re doing, how am I going to follow you? It’s important to look at your goals and write them down.
No. 8: Life is constantly learning how to learn and continuing to learn as much as you can in the areas that you are interested in or need to know.
No. 9: Even though there are many lessons in each of these, the Pareto Principle (80 percent of your sales comes from 20 percent of your clients) works with just about everything — it’s a small percentage of things that we need to focus on that is going to make the difference.
No. 10: At the end of the day, the lesson is not about a comparison. It’s about a contribution. Have you gone from “success to significance?” Have you made an impact? Have you made a difference? ●
Umberto Fedeli is president and CEO at The Fedeli Group