Simply Brilliant: Episode #8 “Looking Beyond the Short Term”

On this episode, Richard talks about Jeff Bezos’ power to look beyond the short term and the advances Brilliant made in 2015.

Transcription:

On this episode of the Simply Brilliant Show, I’d like to talk about 2015, sort of a year-end in review. How Brilliant Transportation did and my team members, and also talk a little bit about 2015 and having patience going into 2016 and some of the opportunities we see. We’re also going to talk about Jeff Bezos, who’s quickly become the fourth wealthiest person on the planet and sort of his approach and how long it took him to accomplish just that. So, without further ado, as we end 2015, we are really satisfied and pleased that we accomplished double digit gains in this period.

It’s really challenging, especially given all of the competitive environment that the transportation industry’s in, whether it be Uber or Lyft and the billions and billions of dollars that they’ve raised as they disrupt the transportation space largely. We’re really pleased to report double-digit increases in the face of that because many other companies have suffered double-digit declines. And while we don’t really care about relative performance, at the end of the day, what we care about is our profitability and our success. It does indicate to us that we’re doing something different and that our clients appreciate that we’re doing something different, and the trend relative to our competitors is in fact, gains versus losses.

But when I was in the hedge fund space and we ran an absolute return portfolio, we measured everything we did both in terms of relative competition to the indices and our other hedge funds, and then also on an absolute basis because that’s what pays the bills. So, on an absolute basis, we generated double-digit returns. My team is fantastic, we really came together as a whole. But I don’t think that really tells the story and I think it’s an unfair characterization of how much Brilliant, as an organization, has grown, both in terms of the relationships with our team, our relationships with our clients, what it is we do for them and how we do it, what we’ve learned in terms of marketing and operations.

And everything that we do, our company has matured far more than double digits, and so I think it’s misleading to say we had a really good year, we grew double digits. I think if I had to grade us on our performance as a team and what we’ve grown and how much more mature we are, how much more expert we are in what it is that we do, the double digit is really not accurately reflecting that. I think we grew probably a multiple of that, maybe 30, 40, 50% more intelligent than we were a year ago. Our relationships are worth that much more. And so the point of all this is while everybody looks at a certain benchmark or index and captures the competitive nature of what it is that we’re doing on an absolute basis, let’s really take a moment to pause and say, “How are we doing relative to the vision, the opportunity, what we’re trying to pursue, how is the team coming together?” And that we’ve done much better on.

And a little story I’d like to share will all of you is about Jeff Bezos at Amazon. Many of you may know his story that in 1994, he left Wall Street to pursue a dream. And he drove across the country to start this online book selling…what has now become a giant, but at the time, it was just a modest ambition. Everyone thought he was crazy. And most Wall Street analysts, for the last 20 years, have been saying “He’s wrong and he’s never turned a profit,” and “How much longer is Wall Street going to put up with his losing money and reinvesting?” And so on and so forth.

And 2015 was really his year. In fact, in July, when he finally posted a profit for one quarter to show the Street that he, in fact, could. His net worth increased by seven billion dollars in one hour, which is unbelievable, right? And then in 2015, his net worth doubled, literally doubled. I think he’s worth close to 60 billion dollars now, and he’s the fourth wealthiest person on the planet. And really, what he was able to do was create a vision and a dream and follow it, and not pay attention to all of the metrics that everyone else was looking at: profitability and burn rate and all the other things.

He had a much longer strategic view. That was one of his competitive advantages was being able to look beyond the near term, beyond the day, the week, the month, the quarter, even the annual projections that Wall Street is so reliant on and say, “Look, I have a vision. I have a dream. It may take me two decades to accomplish it.” But in those 20 years since 1994, he’s now the fourth wealthiest person on the planet, he grew his net worth by seven billion dollars in one hour after an earnings release and the stock popped 18%.

And so, while I would be foolhardy to sit here and tell you that we’re on that same sort of trajectory or anything like that, the point is that while we did in fact grow double digits, I think the story behind the story is much greater. And for that, I really have to thank my team for allowing me to lead them, for listening to my vision, for sharing what it is that we’re doing, for our clients for embracing us with their trust; their most valued clients, their biggest events, the biggest weddings — whatever it may be, all of the challenges the clients present to us. We rise to the occasion.

We relish in the opportunity to serve, and to serve at a world-class level, for companies and individuals that we call the most influential people on the planet. And that’s what keeps us going on a daily basis; it’s not the double-digit returns. We think there’s far more ahead of us and the future’s incredibly bright. And on a future episode, we will go ahead and talk about the future as we see it and where we’re going, but in the meantime, I just want to say 2015 was a fantastic year. We appreciate your support and your continued support, and I really want to thank my team for doing everything that they’ve done. This wouldn’t be possible without them.

While I may be the only person on this show, there’s people behind the scenes, editing and posting, and people in chauffeur seats and cleaning and detailing, and everything that we do to make this happen. And it’s really a team effort, and the team in 2015 did terrific and the revenue numbers, while impressive, especially relative to the competition, don’t tell the whole story. So this little episode of Simply Brilliant is my opportunity to share with you the whole story, as I see it.

Thank you so much. Have a wonderful, healthy, happy 2016. We look forward to seeing you, and if you’ve enjoyed this, please go ahead and share it with others and go ahead and subscribe. Thanks, again.

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