5 Brilliant Tips From Wildly Successful CEOs That Will Improve Your Life Today
See the tactics that the Founders of Google, Patagonia, and other entrepreneurs used to take their companies to the top.
Achieving radical success is confusing, intimidating and can seem impossibly far out of reach. Thankfully, some of the most successful CEOs have left a trail of breadcrumbs so you can follow in their footsteps.
To find your path to success, look no further than Moonshots; a podcast that goes behind-the-scenes with the world’s greatest innovators to uncover their secrets.
If you have the time, I recommend you give each hour-plus long podcast a good listen. For now, however, you should check out my 5 takeaways:
Become a constant learner
Well after they’re done with their schooling, the ultra-successful never stop learning.
That’s truer than ever for Yvon Chouinard, the Patagonia Founder who had no formal business education, but created a billion-dollar global company from scratch. As he put it, “Uncurious people do not lead examined lives; they cannot see causes that lie deeper than the surface.”
In 1957, he learned how to blacksmith to create climbing equipment. Since then, the self-proclaimed “dirtbag” kept pursuing learning, and his business exploded as a result. Although he “never fancied himself a businessman” (and said he hated balance sheets), Chouinard made an effort to read plenty of business books that kept his firm afloat.
Studies have found that big achievers devote at least an hour a day to deliberate learning outside their field. So the next time you’re about to watch Netflix, consider discovering something new instead. The results will eventually amaze you.
Be (and Stay) Authentic
“Having values is one thing, but sticking through the dark times is an entirely different matter,” says Patrick Hanlon, renowned branding expert and CEO of Thinktopia. He’s helped Fortune 500 companies grow and prosper — and staying authentic is the key to their continued success, he says.
For instance, he points out that Patagonia’s wildly successful products stemmed from Chouinard’s mountain explorations. While he was on the mountains, he noticed that the only climbing pitons were soft ones that had to be left in the rock. Not wanting to carry hundreds of pitons up Yosemite, he decided to create a reusable one. That authenticity resulted in breakthrough climbing products that couldn’t be created in an NYC boardroom.
Patagonia is still thriving today because it stayed true to those roots, says Hanlon. Employees still get the chance to go surfing, and are never forced to stay in a backroom, which allows their decision-makers to get in-field insights and create great products.
You can do the same thing by following your passions and sticking to what gets you excited to wake up in the morning. As Warren Buffett once said, “Being successful at almost anything means having a passion for it.”
Turn problems into opportunities
Canva offers graphic design software right on your web browser. And it’s so simple even a five-year-old could use it.
Nowadays, the company has 10 million users across 179 countries, and every second 10 designs are created via its website. However, that’s a far cry from its infancy — it all started in the lounge of the Founder’s mother’s house in Perth.
This was back in 2006 when Founder Melanie Perkins was a 19-year-old student at the University of Western Australia. While taking classes, she was was frustrated by how long it took to learn how to use most mainstream design software. “It could take a whole semester to learn the very basics,” she says. “Even the simplest tasks, like exporting a high-quality PDF file, could take 22 clicks.”
While most people would either quit using the software or begrudgingly learn it, Perkins spotted opportunity within adversity. She sought to democratize design, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Whether you’re running a big business or working in an office, remember that if you’re facing a problem, others are too — and that’s where opportunity lies. Rather than shying away from problems, realize that there’s likely a way to turn them into something positive.
Act Like a Child
Moonshots also discovered a very surprising secret of Google Co-Founders Larry Page’s and Sergey Brin’s success — and it all has to do with nursery school. They credit the unique Montessori schooling method in their young ages for that out-of-the-box thinking that changed the Internet forever.
Montessori schools encourage a child’s wonder and curiosity through a hands-off approach, rather than stifling it through strict rules. Maintaining that creative philosophy brought Page and Brin massive success, and it will for you too.
“I think it was part of that training of not following rules and orders, and being self motivated, questioning what’s going on in the world and doing things a little bit differently,” says Page.
Studies back up the fact that questioning your processes and looking at the world through the eyes of a child brings insane success. So whether it’s your morning Excel spreadsheet or creating a new product, you should question everything and look at it from a new perspective. You won’t get different results if you don’t think differently.
Believe in yourself
“If you aren’t proud of your idea and believe in your plans, why should anybody else?” — Richard Branson
You need to be your own best cheerleader — nobody will advocate for yourself the way you do. It’s what allowed Branson to keep going with ideas that most thought crazy, and it’s what will let you be exceptionally successful in the face of self-doubt.
This is more than a hokey saying — studies show that “faking it ‘till you make it’” will dramatically improve your odds of actually making it. For some parting wisdom: no matter how mind-blowingly brilliant your business idea is, or how insanely talented you are, nothing will take off if you don’t believe in yourself.