Last Wednesday I went to another great panel discussion for ACG Central Texas. This particular panel was a spotlight on private equity, and it included partners from Vista Equity Partners, Virgo Capital, and some of the other top equity firms here in Texas. They shared their observations on today’s market and talked about what, in their eyes, makes a successful business founder.
One thing really caught my attention — and the reason I’m writing this blog post — was that they all talked about the importance of founders being open-minded: open-minded to unexpected opportunities, to different strategies, to new directions. And I couldn’t agree more.
The word I use for this quality with my clients is coachable. To me, open-mindedness isn’t just about entertaining new ideas or new ways of doing things; it can also be about taking someone else’s informed opinion or criticism and using it to positively impact your company and career. People often ask for help and are then unwilling to execute on it. So why ask? If you want to get better at a musical instrument, let’s say, you would look for a great teacher. Meeting with the teacher they will give you suggestions, advice, homework and feedback. You listen and practice because know that is the only way things will get better.
Whether you’re a founder of a bootstrapping startup, an experienced entrepreneur, a manager trying to move up in a large company, or a C-suite executive, true success comes when you are open minded and coachable.
A lot of my clients come to me for help, but instead of being open to suggestions and new ways of doing things, they want me to wave a magic wand and make everything better. (If anyone has figured out how to do that, please let me know. My business will skyrocket.)
The truth is that real breakthroughs only happen after a lot of hard work and some coaching from those trusted advisors that you’ve already vetted and brought into your inner circle. Be judicious about who you take advice from, but once you decide who those people are, take their advice!
No matter how experienced any of us are, there’s always something we don’t see, there’s always something we can learn, and there’s always someone else who may have valuable perspective and insight. Being open to others’ ideas and suggestions (while not always being reliant on them) will lead your company or career to new heights you hadn’t even imagined.
So try being open and coachable, and watch how things take off.