Fred Koury

Wednesday, 30 November 2011 20:01

Rocking the boat

Leadership is about taking risks and overcoming obstacles. When Jeff Bezos learned Internet usage was increasing 2,300 percent annually, he decided to leave a high-paying job to start selling books online. There were a lot of obstacles in his way, including a massive brick-and-mortar system of selling books and a publishing industry that wasn’t looking to include a start-up. But he left his safe job and founded, changing forever the way books are sold.

His key to assessing big decisions and overcoming obstacles? Imagine yourself being 80 years old and asking if you would regret not doing it. In this case, he would have regretted not trying to join the Internet revolution.

He had a clear vision of what he wanted to do, knew the obstacles involved, then set out to overcome them, knowing the whole time that there was a high failure risk. But he didn’t want to be 80 and look back with regret and what could have been.

Will you look back with regret at what could have been in your organization? Maybe you’ve owned your business for a long time or been in an executive position for a few years, but are you leading or managing?

Leadership is about making hard choices and living with the outcomes, good or bad. Managing is more about not rocking the boat and making sure employees, vendors and customers are all happy. But sometimes the path to a greater success requires you to rock the boat to the point of tipping it over.

Like Bezos demonstrated, the first key is simply knowing where you are going. Too many companies today are just surviving. They aren’t plotting a growth plan; they are just doing what they’ve always done, hoping that it’s enough to get by for another day. If you are a leader, you won’t tolerate that.

Once you know where you are going, it becomes much easier to map out how you are going to get there and what obstacles stand in your way. By listing out the obstacles, you can then start going around them, through them, over them or simply get rid of them.

Most obstacles are going to fall into the categories of people, product or structure. Maybe you don’t have the right management team to get you to where you want to go. Maybe your product is no longer relevant or has been outclassed by new competitors. Maybe your company isn’t structured to handle the challenges that lie ahead on your path for growth.

But this is where true leadership comes into play. Changing people, product or structure can create a great deal of stress in an organization. Do you have the courage to admit that you don’t have the right leadership in place? Perhaps you’re the problem — can you admit that? Do you have the ability to revamp or completely change out your product line? Are you willing to shed positions to restructure your company?

None of these decisions are easy. But that’s the difference between a leader and a manager. A manager would accept the status quo and not rock the boat. Why risk changing things when what you have is good enough? A leader says, “We are going in a different direction and that means things are going to have to change. It’s the only way.”

Your other option is to leave things alone and play it safe. But you have to be OK with looking back when you are 80 and saying, “I could have done so much more.”

Fred Koury is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at (800) 988-4726 or

Monday, 31 October 2011 21:01

Money vs. meaning

Guy Kawasaki, the one-time chief evangelist for Apple, will tell you that if you are in business to make money, you probably won’t be successful. But if you are in business for a greater meaning, you will probably not only be successful but you will also make money.

The concept is actually pretty simple. If our goals are centered on solving problems or creating a greater good, then there will be value associated with what we are doing, we’ll attract top people and customers will be happy. If our goals are focused on money, we are more than likely to just end up chasing our tail. It doesn’t mean we won’t make a little profit along the way, but the odds of becoming something special are against us.

Creating a business built on a higher purpose requires several steps:

  • Having a common vision. Everyone has to know what our higher purpose is and how we plan on getting there.

  • Working toward that vision. We have to show progress toward our goals and explain to people how they will help get the organization there.

  • Building the excitement. We need to celebrate the wins as we move toward our goals and showcase the people that are doing things right.

  • Rewarding people. We need a combination of recognition and compensation to help keep the momentum going. Highlight the top performers and reward those that are helping drive the success.

Our higher purpose doesn’t have to be anything complicated. In fact, the simpler the better. Take The Coca-Cola Co. for example. The company has a three-part mission statement:

  • To refresh the world

  • To inspire moments of optimism and happiness

  • To create value and make a difference

Note that the company is not explicitly focused on making money. It’s focused on refreshing the world with great products that make people happy while making a difference along the way. If Coke does those things, people will naturally gravitate toward its products and it will make money. But its mission is not focused on the monetary aspect directly.

Its vision is broken down into six P’s: people, portfolio, partners, planet, profit and productivity. Each one is further defined to illustrate how it fits into the overall mission. The end result is a simple plan that establishes clear guidelines that everyone in the organization can refer back to. If you work at Coke, you should probably have a pretty good idea of what the plan is and what is expected of you.

The company defines its cultures and even lists expected behaviors. In the area of rewarding people, the company highlights some top performers on its website, with each person touting what a difference he or she is making. It’s not about hitting a sales goal; it’s about making the world a better place in some small way.

We all need to look at whether our companies have a higher purpose other than making money. If our company doesn’t, it’s time to look at what we are doing. If a company that sells various beverages can identify and embrace a higher purpose and build a wildly successful company around that ideal, then it shouldn’t be too difficult for us to find a similar role for our companies. When we move beyond getting the next sale and focus on a greater purpose, everything will start to fall into place on its own.

Fred Koury is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at (800) 988-4726 or

Friday, 30 September 2011 21:01

One-time offer

First impressions are everything.

You only get one chance at a first impression, whether it’s the impression you are making on a potential client or the impression your employees give to someone visiting the office.

Why are impressions important? For customers, the benefit is obvious. You want them to see you in the best light possible. But for noncustomers, you always have to look at each person as if he or she will one day be a customer.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Inc., a $1 billion-plus retailer, doesn’t attend networking events and rarely carries business cards. His mission is to build relationships by learning something about the person. The impression that people get from him is that he cares about them personally, not just what they might be able to do for his business.

He credits this people-first thinking to much of his success.

Good first impressions come down to one thing: effort. Hsieh would save time if he just talked about what people do and traded business cards, but that’s easy. He puts in the effort to get to know people personally, and as a result, he’s had phenomenal success, even though the payoff from his first impression might be two to three years after the initial meeting.

It’s not easy to make a good first impression, but if you follow some basic rules and put in the effort the way that Hsieh does, you can bet that people will walk away with a positive opinion of you or your product.

Here are some things we can do today to make sure that the first impression we make is a good one.

1. Send a letter instead of an e-mail after meeting someone new. This may feel like a hassle, but that person will take notice and know that you went the extra mile to make him or her feel important.

2. Be professional. It is very acceptable in today’s society to dress down or settle for basic etiquette. But first impressions are everything, and we should make the other person feel important. You also send a message about who you are with how you dress and behave. Make sure your appearance and actions send the right message.

3. Drive these ideals across your organization, from the top managers to the receptionist. Anyone in your organization who encounters anyone else represents you. As the leader of your company, you are responsible for the first impression being made on your behalf. Make sure it is the one that you want.

4. Reassure your customers. When dealing with new customers, it is important that they feel they made the right decision to do business with you. It is always helpful to send a thank-you letter letting them know that you are aware of them and that you appreciate their business, regardless of the size of your company. I am not talking about a form letter that you stamp a signature onto, but a letter they know that you personally wrote and signed.

When you take the time to do the little things to make sure you and others within your company are making a good first impression, people will see you and your business in a better light. Their perception of your professionalism and level of service will increase, helping you gain new customers and keep old ones.

Be vigilant about these things, because you only get one chance to make a first impression. A blown opportunity to impress a potential new customer won’t come again.

FRED KOURY is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at (800) 988-4726 or

Wednesday, 31 August 2011 21:01

Taming the beast

If you stripped out all of the technology from your business, what would you be left with? Could you process payroll? Communicate with customers and employees? Schedule production runs?

More than likely, there would be very little you could actually accomplish. There might be some short-term workarounds you could come up with, but business as you know it would grind to a halt because technology is the backbone of everything we do.

As CEO, the biggest challenge is sometimes just understanding the problem. When technology doesn’t work, you hear about it, and you can often see it affect your bottom line. But the solutions are always costly and typically hard to understand. Without a computer engineering background, you’re left trying to find the rhyme or reason to an expensive solution that probably consists of a bunch of acronyms and industry buzzwords. Servers, routers, network interfaces, nodes, firewalls and bandwidth are all tied together into a Gordian knot that somehow allows you send an e-mail through the cloud to your assistant or forward a proposal to a customer. If one piece breaks, the whole system comes crashing down and the chorus of complaints starts working its way up to the corner office.

Unfortunately, every time a piece breaks, there seems to be a five- or six-figure solution to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. And much like getting your car repaired, the first “fix” doesn’t always solve the problem, so then another proposal shows up on your desk to add even more money and equipment to the solution. For the amount of money you’ve invested, you feel like you should have a Death Star floating around the back room somewhere, but all you get out of the deal is e-mail that doesn’t crash every two hours.

The challenge for the CEO is figuring out where you belong in the process. You probably don’t have a computer background, so you can’t get tangled up in wires or be mapping out networks. But with so much revenue and profit tied up in functioning technology, you can’t afford to not play any role at all. Completely turning over the technology decisions to the IT experts isn’t always the best idea because they don’t always understand the business functionality that is critical to making money. What the IT team sees as a great idea to connect to customers, the sales team often views as an unneeded (and unused) piece of software.

Going the other way often yields equally bad results. Employees who are given everything they want from a technology standpoint may help some individual productivity, but it saps the ability of the IT department to be effective as it scrambles to maintain a menagerie of technology that wasn’t designed to interface, and while trying to be jacks of all trades, the IT team ends up being a master of none.

A.G. Lafley, the former chairman, president and CEO of Procter & Gamble, credits some of his success in innovation and management to working with his scientists and the technology people to connect ideas of what was possible to customers. It wasn’t just technology driving decisions, and it wasn’t just salespeople making demands about what they wanted.

So how should you approach technology in your organization? Take the Ronald Reagan approach — trust but verify. You need to have the best IT people you can afford, whether they are in-house or consultants. You need to trust their judgment the same way you want to trust your lawyer’s or banker’s judgment. Get your leadership team involved in finding appropriate technology solutions so that everyone is happy with the end result.

But when a proposal comes across your desk, challenge it. Is there a cheaper solution that would achieve the same result? Make them explain what the technology does and how it will improve your business operations. Is there someone you can call for a second opinion? Once you have all the facts, you can make a decision as to whether the money spent will yield the business results you need to be successful, because in the end, it’s about profit.

You don’t want to be paying for a Death Star-solution when a new server will do just fine.

FRED KOURY is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at (800) 988-4726 or

Monday, 01 August 2011 13:28

The heart of growth

There’s a lot of talk about core competencies in the business world, but people often don’t understand what the term really means.

Some CEOs think their core competencies are the things that generate revenue, so they set off on a wild goose chase of looking for the next great thing in areas where they have no expertise. A true core competency is typically defined as having three general traits: It’s hard for competitors to imitate, it can be leveraged widely across products and markets, and it provides benefit to the consumer.

For example, at Smart Business Network, our core competency is content. We started off as just magazines, providing content tailored to CEOs and other senior-level decision-makers. But as the market started to evolve from analog to digital, we changed with it. Our core competency of content didn’t change, just the way we presented it. We moved into events (presenting content via live speakers), e-mail newsletters (presenting content on a certain topic to a narrow niche), webinars (presenting content via interaction with an editor and subject-matter experts), custom magazines (presenting content from experts to their constituents) and websites (presenting content in digital form.) The common thread among all of these is content.

Content for us meets the three components of a core competency. It’s hard for competitors to imitate what we do because we have a 20-year track record of working with some of the top CEOs in the country to provide insight, advice and strategy to other leaders. The popularity of our magazines with senior-level executives gives us the access that others cannot duplicate. As illustrated by the number of places where our content is delivered, it’s being applied across several products and markets. And finally, our content provides a benefit to both the buyer and the consumer — the buyer gets a professional message delivered to a specific audience, while consumers get information that helps them run their businesses better.

It’s OK to change your products, just don’t change your core competency. We evolved from a magazine-only approach to deal with changing technology. People were consuming information from areas outside of print, and we had to adapt to survive. But through all the incarnations, we never lost sight that, for us, content is king.

Think of your product the way Coca-Cola looks at its soda. If you want a Coke, you can find a vending machine and get a 16-oz. bottle. You can go to the grocery store and buy a 12 pack of cans. Or if you are at a ball game, you can buy a cup from one of the vendors. It’s the same product delivered in a variety of ways. Wherever the consumer wants a Coke, there’s a way to get it.

This is similar to how we have approached content. If you want it in print, we do that. If you want it digitally through a website, we do that. If you prefer e-mail newsletters or microsites, that’s not a problem either. Custom content? We provide that, too.

Now look at your product or service. Are you making it available in every way possible? Are there avenues where customers are looking for your service that you haven’t taken advantage of? Would Coke be as successful if the only way to buy it was in a can from the local store? No. Are you limiting your own success by limiting the ways your product is distributed?

And in a similar vein, are you going outside of your core competency? Coke is a beverage company. It has its flagship products and has added on flavored waters and sport drinks as consumer tastes have evolved. But those market changes were dealt with by staying with its core competency. When people started becoming more health conscious, the company found a way to provide healthier drinks; it didn’t start a line of health clubs.

There are many other examples of companies that leverage their expertise without deviating from their core competency: UPS applies its logistics expertise through consulting and management services for clients; Dunkin’ Donuts sells its popular coffee in grocery stores.

If you truly understand what you do best and can find ways to apply it across multiple markets, success will naturally follow. Just be true to who you are and stick with your core competencies.

FRED KOURY is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at (800) 988-4726 or

Thursday, 14 July 2011 11:46

The climb to the top

In the sports world, there is a clearly defined champion each year. Every team strives to be the one that finishes on top, but most don’t make it. Many teams have good seasons and might be satisfied with that, but only one is the true No. 1.

The question to ask yourself is, what is your goal? Are you trying to be the No. 1 player in your industry? Or are you happy with just having the equivalent of a good season? A lot of you might say you are aiming for No. 1, but are you really putting in the effort to get there? Is everything you do focused on obtaining that goal?

Tiger Woods, Steve Jobs, Jack Welch and Warren Buffett know what it takes to win.

Building a championship team in any industry, whether it’s sports or business, is a full-time effort. Here are four observations on what it takes to get to the top.

Continuous improvement. Tiger Woods has a coach. One of the best golfers in our lifetime has a coach and works with him to get better. The coach challenges his thinking, pushes him to go further and doesn’t let him get complacent. Just because you are good at something doesn’t mean you can’t get better. The road to the top requires long hours of identifying every flaw in your organization and then working tirelessly to eliminate that flaw. Once you are on top, you have to work even harder, because all of your competitors will be using your success as the new benchmark. If you don’t work to improve even more, you’ll drop back to the middle of the pack. The day you think you know everything is the day you start to decline.

Look ahead. Winners identify trends before anyone else and are able to take advantage of that knowledge. If you are working on continuous improvement, you’ll obtain what you need to move quicker than your competitors. Why? Because you will have networked more than the next guy, talked to more of your customers and interacted with your employees on the front lines. You will have spent more time analyzing the data and reading up on the latest trends. When you put all this information together, you’ll start to see patterns that you can take advantage of. Steve Jobs of Apple has been ahead of the competition with almost every product he’s launched. In fact, some of his few failures have been partly because he was too far ahead of everyone and the market wasn’t ready yet. Jobs is able to look at consumer needs and combine that with technology trends to create new best-in-class products.

Desire. This one is simple. If you don’t have the desire to be No. 1, then don’t expect to be No. 1. To be a champion, you have to have the heart of a champion. Maybe this is something you are born with or maybe it is learned. Either way, if you don’t have it, you’ll never be the best. Jack Welch wanted to be at the top of everything he did. If he wasn’t going to win, then he had no problem selling off business segments and using the resources to build a champion in another area. There’s nothing wrong with just being a “good” business, but don’t try to fool yourself by saying you want to be the best when you don’t really have the desire to do what it takes to get there.

Commitment. One clue that you might be lacking the desire to be the best in your industry is a lack of commitment. If you are only working 40 hours a week, you are probably not committed to being No. 1. With the talent level of the CEOs who are out there, it would be almost impossible to work fewer hours than they do and expect to beat them. You have to be willing to outwork the competition and do whatever it takes to win. Warren Buffett would often start his day at 4:30 a.m., and he also saved $1,000 by the time he was 14 — a lot of money back in the 1940s. He was committed at an early age to being a success. Long hours and hard work are mile posts on the road to a championship. Do you have what it takes to win it all?

FRED KOURY is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at (800) 988-4726 or

Monday, 06 June 2011 14:58

Put it in writing

If you had the chance to share with your peers a great way to handle a particular business problem, would you do it? Most of us would say yes, because most people like to help others and share their successes.

For instance, Michael Feuer, the founder of OfficeMax and our longtime columnist, has a book available this month that shares more than 40 business lessons he has learned while taking his company from a startup to more than $5 billion in sales. He covers everything from getting through the startup phase to selling a business. No matter what phase of business you are in, there are best practices that you can learn from someone who has already been there.

I’m proud to say that this book is from our book division, where we help top leaders translate their ideas into print.

These books aren’t about bragging about successes — they are about helping others learn lessons that can be slow and difficult to learn without guidance. Think of them more like business textbooks where you are the professor, helping people eager to learn or grasp complex issues.

Even longtime CEOs of highly successful companies are always on the lookout for new ways to handle old situations. Maybe you could be the one that teaches Jack Welch something new about how to handle employees, but that can only happen if you attempt to share your ideas with others.

Books can also be a great way to share your broader leadership concepts with your employees. When you have hundreds or thousands of employees, getting all of them to understand your strategy can be difficult when it’s in the form of short e-mails, videos or town-hall discussions. A book is a great way to explain the intricacies of your strategies and share lessons learned with your junior executives so they don’t repeat the same mistakes you did when you were coming up through the ranks. You can teach them firsthand how to navigate negotiations, difficult employees or tough customers, all without ever leaving your office. What better way to educate employees about your company than to explain in detail your rationale for how you go about making decisions and how you develop strategy? If getting employee and customer feedback is important to you, you can illustrate the book with examples of how to effectively do it so your managers can carry the message throughout the company.

Employees aren’t the only ones who can benefit. Longtime customers might be interested to know how you think so they can better craft solutions and products that fit your vision. When they better understand where you are going, new partnerships might open up opportunities for both of you.

A lot of CEOs think about writing a book, but few ever get around to it. The No. 1 reason is a lack of time. But when you have someone else helping you shape your general ideas and guiding you through the process, it doesn’t take as much time as you might think. It’s like any other transaction — when you have someone helping you through the process, it moves much faster than trying to figure it all out on your own.

Michael Feuer took the time to pen the secrets to his success, and the result is an outstanding collection of tips that even the most experienced CEO can learn from. It’s not only an entertaining read, but it will also help you run your business better. I highly recommend it.

If you’ve ever dreamed of putting your ideas to paper to help others find the same road to success you’ve found, why not make a commitment to doing it now? We’ve been helping CEOs convey their best ideas to the business world for more than 20 years now in various media. Shouldn’t you be next?

For more information about how the Smart Business Book Division can help you, please call (440) 250-7026.

For more information on Michael Feuer’s book, “The Benevolent Dictator,” go to

FRED KOURY is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at (800) 988-4726 or

Thursday, 31 March 2011 20:01

People vs. profit

In this hyper-competitive economy, everything is about speed. How quickly can you get a new product out the door? How fast can you deliver a service to a client? How long until that report is done? No one needs anything now; they needed it 30 minutes ago.

The result is an environment that demands ultra efficiency at every level. Companies of every size have been turned into machines, with senior managers tasked with fine-tuning them to the specifications set by the CEOs. If a particular part of the machine is slowing it down, that part needs to be changed out for a better, more efficient one. The moral dilemma comes when you start looking at the parts — they are people, not pieces of metal. Too many CEOs are looking at people as a means to an end, rather than human beings.

It’s a danger of our capitalist society that some leaders look at just the numbers, forgetting that there are many names and faces behind each line on the budget. You can be torn between building a cash reserve or achieving maximum profitability to please investors and being fair to the people who may not be performing up to the standards you would like to see. The question is, what do you do about it?

The easiest solution is to simply get rid of the people who you think are holding you back. This was Jack Welch’s philosophy — chuck the bottom 10 percent each year and your machine will continue to get better. There’s no room in business for having a soft spot for underachievers and there is no time to bother with them, so out they go.

While this model may be best for the short-term finances, is it really the best way to go? How many of those people had potential, but didn’t understand what they were supposed to be doing? How many of them simply needed clear goals they could strive for? And was productivity hurt as people in the middle continually fretted about where they ranked within the organization? Also, at some point, your organization would be as efficient as it could be, meaning those in the bottom 10 percent might be pretty good employees — and you might be hard-pressed to do better when you go to replace them.

The tougher solution, at least from a straight business perspective because of the cost in time and money, is to invest in the people who aren’t allowing you to reach peak efficiency. This could range from making sure they understand their goals and the company objectives to investing in training and development so they have the right skill set to do their job in the best way.

If given the time and the opportunity to improve, many of the people on the low end of the performance scale will improve, and a select few will even blossom into full-blown superstars.

The new economy isn’t just a rat race; it’s a digital rat race with speeds increasing exponentially each year. You may want to invest in people, but your competitive environment may simply not allow you the time to do so.

Each business is unique, and there are pros and cons to both strategies. But what’s most important is that, regardless of which direction you choose, you never lose sight of the fact that there are people behind the numbers, and people are what matter most.

Tuesday, 01 March 2011 10:23

Diversifying risk

You may have never heard of Parker Hannifin, but there’s something you can learn from the $10 billion manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems.

Its broad product line has allowed the Cleveland-based company to deliver results quarter after quarter and year after year, all with little fanfare.

It makes everything from parts that go on aircraft braking systems to nitrogen generators for wineries to hydraulic parts for hybrid refuse and delivery vehicles. If it’s a machine in motion, Parker probably either makes part of the machine or the entire system.

It touches on so many different industries, that a down cycle in any one of them doesn’t destroy the plans or goals of the entire company. With locations in 46 countries, the company has also created some insulation from local economic setbacks. If times are tough domestically, there may be better business to be found in an emerging market somewhere across the globe.

Diversification is one of the reasons the company has been able to pay its shareholders an increased dividend each of the past 54 years. Its overall risk is spread through industries and plants located all over the world.

There’s a lesson to be learned from Parker and other companies like it — you need to diversify your products and services to leverage the maximum potential from your brand’s reputation.

You can create new products in-house, you can form partnerships, you can add innovations to existing products or you can make acquisitions.

How many of these are you doing? Parker Hannifin has a track record of doing all of them. While you may not have the resources of a $10 billion company, the lesson can be applied at any level. Imagine if Parker only made automotive related parts? How would it have survived the challenges of that industry if that’s all it offered?

So where do you start? Focus on what you know best. What are your customers looking for? If you are only providing one piece of the puzzle, is there a way you can provide other pieces, as well?

Being smart about your diversification effort is just as important as the effort itself.

There’s a reason Parker Hannifin doesn’t own wineries. It sells parts and systems related to wine-making because its expertise is in motion control. A Parker-owned winery might be efficient and profitable, but it would take away the company’s focus from its core.

Take a look at what your own core is and figure out a way to make the most of it. If you don’t, you risk being squeezed out of the market by bigger players with better product diversity.

Fred Koury is president and CEO of Smart Business. Contact him at

Thursday, 17 February 2011 14:00

Staying the course

Jeff Bezos, CEO of, has no problem making a big bet and sticking to it, even when conventional wisdom says otherwise.


He’s disciplined. He stays the course.

He started off in books and music and now sells just about anything, including his own e-reader device that threatens his own book distribution business.

And for 15 years, his discipline has paid off, making Amazon one of the best-run companies in the country with a stock price of well over $150 per share.

If you look at most successful CEOs, I don’t think you’ll be surprised to find that discipline, whether it’s mental or physical, is a key trait. When you are disciplined in something, you tend to be good at it. Discipline is the key root of success, because success is not by chance. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about running a company or staying fit, discipline leads, more times than not, to success.

Physical discipline is important to guarantee your long-term plans. You might be the smartest CEO in the world, but if you’re not eating right and are smoking two packs a day, you probably won’t be around long enough to see your success come to fruition.

Discipline is about getting the job done by whatever means possible. If you are not disciplined enough to stay in shape or stick to a diet, hire a trainer to help you. If you are already in shape, share your success and help others find similar results.

On the mental side, being disciplined means controlling your mind. There are a lot of things in this world that you can’t control, whether it’s the economy or government regulations, so there’s little point in wasting time worrying about them. Focus your energy on the things you can control — or at least make a difference in — and leave the rest alone.

Make sure you are well-rounded. Don’t sacrifice your family in favor of your business. Turn off your cell phone when you are spending time with your spouse and children. There will be time to return the call later.

Having this kind of life balance requires discipline. Don’t be one of the CEOs that sacrifices everything to grow a business only to realize 20 years later that they haven’t invested anything into their personal life — and it’s too late to do anything about it.

When you have the wherewithal to be focused on everything from your business strategy to your family, you’ll find you have time to do the things you want and enjoy your success along the way. You’ll be able to spend time focusing on what really matters, letting the trivial and the things you can’t control fall by the wayside. Being disciplined on the physical side means you’ll have the energy and health to enjoy your rewards.

A successful CEO is a disciplined CEO. And if you need help to find your discipline, Bezos has a number of books for sale that can shed insight into anything from how to manage 32 percent annual growth like Amazon has to books on weight loss.

There’s no time like the present to get started on your journey.

FRED KOURY is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at (800) 988-4726 or