Paving The Path To Greatness
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” — John F. Kennedy
Food For Thought
The Path To Leadership
Imagine going one year without looking in the mirror. Would you be shocked by what you saw after that year?
Imagine going 5 years, 10 years, 20…
When we look in the mirror every day, minute changes in appearance do not shock us.
Go years or decades without seeing yourself and you would be overwhelmed by the differences when you finally caught a glimpse of you-but-not-you.
Professional and career development is much the same. Little changes and small improvements here and there add up.
In fact, when you finally do look back, it might be shocking to find that the 25-year-old boy who had just started in the banking industry has become a man in his early 50s leading the very bank that gave him his initial shot. At least that’s what happens when Greg Becker, CEO of Silicon Valley Bank, glances in his mirror.
Greg’s story helps us kick off our series of interviews for Leadership Week. Over his 26-year career at SVB, he has worked in many roles across the company and today leads the charge as CEO.
When Greg first started as a lender at SVB, he didn’t have his eye on the C-suite. Quite the opposite — he was obsessed with doing the best job he could in whatever role he was in.
But oftentimes, the best leaders are the ones who aren’t trying to become leaders at all. In fact, those who rise to the call organically may be more fit to lead than those who fight tooth and nail to get their way to the top.
So how ‘should’ you become a leader? What habits can you pick up today that will take you on a path of success and eventual greatness?
Greg started at the bottom rung, like most people in his field. He was a junior associate, slowly trying to understand the world of business and his place in it.
On his journey to becoming CEO of SVB, he learned many things about being a venture capitalist, an employee, and — eventually — a leader. But Greg attributes his success to the philosophies he developed and lived by long before he could call himself a CEO.
Never stop learning. It’s a philosophy we preach with fervor at Mission.
Greg sites his innate curiosity, passion to learn, and eagerness to drive innovation as key catalysts throughout his career. This mindset has kept him at the forefront of change, driven him to take initiative, and helped him build a network of people who have opened doors that he may have otherwise never known existed.
Build Real Relationships
Being curious about others has helped Greg start conversations, but it takes more than an interest in someone to build a genuine relationship. It also takes vulnerability and honesty.
People are drawn to an attitude of candor. Have deep discussions, tell people when you make mistakes, explain what you’ve learned, and don’t be afraid to express disagreement. These real relationships will prove to be far more fruitful than any ‘connection’ you made at a day-long networking conference.
Find A Mentor
Finding a mentor isn’t easy and a certain amount of right-time-right-place luck is often needed, but you can position yourself in a way that creates that time and place.
Get to know the people around you and reach out to those that inspire you. Don’t only tell them that you want to get to know them, show them, and find opportunities to help them. This will often build a relationship where they reciprocally become interested in you and your success.
Always Have The Company’s Best Interest In Mind
No matter what role you are in, or what personal goals you have, always think about what is best for the company. This kind of integrity, clear-mindedness, and loyalty doesn’t go unnoticed. That attitude makes it so decision-makers can rely on you and will lead to more responsibility being handed your way.
The path to greatness is paved with consistent improvement. Your career success is a direct function of the values and habits you base your life on.
Strive every day to be a better you than the day before, and you will find that thousands of better you’s will carry you to success you didn’t even plan to attain.
Funding The Next Generation Of Leaders
In 2018, 67% of all US venture-backed companies with an IPO used Silicon Valley Bank. Today, about 50% of all venture-backed tech and life science companies in the US use them.
SVB is the future of banking, and CEO Greg Becker is leading the way. When Greg started more than 25 years ago, SVB only had $50 million assets under management. Now, they have $57 billion.
In this episode, Chad and Greg talk about how SVB is funding the next generation of leaders in the Valley and around the world. Greg also shares his philosophy for company and career growth and how he overcame one of the biggest mistakes of his career.
What It Means To Lead With Presence
“Presence is the radiance of authenticity. That is, you radiate sincerity and you have what it takes to make good things happen. It is different from charisma; charisma is a gift, but it’s the sheen on metal. Presence is the real deal — a person’s mettle.”
Speaking Of Power Struggles…
Game of Thrones returned this past weekend for Season 8! To celebrate, here’s a fun (and mind-blowing) fact:
For David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (the duo who adapted Game of Thrones to the TV), this was both their first-times directing and writing a TV show. 😲
We’d say they did a dang good job.
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This was originally published on April 16, 2019 as the Mission’s daily newsletter. To subscribe, go here.
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