When I was in my early 20′s, I thought becoming a millionaire would be simple. My thought was, a million dollars was simply one million one dollar bills. Simple enough right? Well, it’s kinda right if you believe that becoming a doctor is as simple as buying a scalpel! What I came to learn was that money, as important as it appeared, was not what really mattered.
‘Success’ was in fact the magic word I was looking for, and I came to realize that money was but one of the many by-products of success. Success, however, has such wide-ranging definitions and can be applied to almost anything in life. The ultimate question for me came to be, how would I define it for myself?
Money is such a shallow concept, but is a necessity and more importantly it is an enabler for freedom – mainly choices. But what happens when you get the money? The ride is over? Life stops? Well, that’s the problem with money – once you have it where do you go? When I set my sail towards defining success instead of money, the wind has been at my back ever since. What I’ve realized is that success is a life-long journey and is never truly attained. Success is a state of mind only limited by how far we choose to believe!
So what does success look like to the mega-giants that have made it? Somehow money didn’t make the list. However a wealth of insightful principles did…
1) Tony Hsieh – Zappos
Founded LinkExchange, a dot-com company, sold it to Microsoft for $250 mill. Founded Zappos, online retailer, sold it to Amazon for $ 1.2 billion.
As a poker player in his youth, Hsieh saw the necessity to ‘change tables’ as a key strategy in poker and in business. For him this meant choosing tables where the players are not that good at playing poker but have money to burn. He went to on say in his book, “Delivering Happiness,” that in business, picking the right type of business at the right time is as important of a skill as how you play the game.
2) Mark Cuban – Owner of the Dallas Mavericks
Founded Broadcast.com, internet radio business, sold it to Yahoo for $5.9 bill. Currently owns the NBA team Dallas Mavericks – His worth is apprx $2.5 Billion.
“Effort!” Cuban explains that to be successful you have to go where your effort takes you. He goes on to say “we all have dreams, but without hunger, without putting consistent effort into achieving them, the chances are… not a chance!” Lastly, he states, “Go get what you are driven to do and willing to inject all your effort into.”
This reminds me of a great quote that legendary football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant made…
“Its not the will to win that matters – everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”
3) Steve Jobs – Co-Founder of Apple
Many successful icons have failed many times before reaching success, but Steve Job’s career saw very extreme highs and lows. At age 30 he was kicked out of his own company, but with the tenacity of a pitbull, he dramatically changed his perspective and the company he would soon lead again - Apple. His turnaround of the company that he founded will go down as one of the greats in history.
“Say no to 1,000 Things.” The one statement that always stood out to me was that Steve Jobs was very aware of what Apple chose ‘not’ to do. In this case, it was ‘Be everything to everybody.’ His focus was centered around what Apple was going to stand for – and equally as important, what it wasn’t going to stand for. The Apple success model hasn’t deviated ever since. Jobs chose a path for the company that was uniquely his own.
4) Anna Wintour – Editor-n-Chief Vogue Magazine
The dynamic stalwart behind Vogue Magazine is responsible for changing the landscape of how women’s fashion is viewed. The movie “The Devil Wears Prada,” was a depiction of this strong-willed and ultra-talented woman. The magazine stands head-and-shoulders above the other lady magazines.
Wintour has been quoted several times that she does not believe in market research. She believes in her own instincts. Her ability to dictate changes in the marketplace versus responding to them, has given her a distinct advantage over her competition. Her philosophy comes with failures and successes but it allows her to constantly be in a mode of innovation.
5) Jay Z – Legendary Rapper and Business Owner
Jay Z has become a transformational icon in American history. From growing up in the projects to having ownership in the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, he has achieved success on many levels. Current holdings; Brooklyn Nets, Arsenal Football Club, 40/40 Night Clubs and Def Jam records. Estimated worth – $475 Million.
“Finding your truth is the ultimate destination in your life”, Jay Z says in an interview with Steve Forbes (Forbes Magazine). In an age where duplication is the norm, finding your unique voice will put you on a path of success. Understanding change is important, and adapting to it is a skill but not at the expense of changing who you are and your beliefs. Stay true through the process even when the circumstances are tough.”
Your success will come, but always remember that the money will be the output of your beliefs, efforts, instincts, uniqueness and authenticity!