Scaling Up for Life

Fountains (or Fire Hoses) of Knowledge

Last week I had the chance to head out to the great city of Denver, CO and attend the Fall 2018 Scaling Up Growth Summit.  Hosted by Verne Harnish and the Gazelles (among other great organizations which have their roots in the Rockefeller Habits), this event attracts mid-market companies that are looking to accelerate their growth.

I expected a lot, and got more than I came for.

Conferences have a bit of stigma about them.  Lots of professionals hoarded into a ballroom, listening to keynote speakers all day.  For many, these events appear to be nothing more than corporate boondoggles that executives use as an excuse to travel on the company dime.  That may be true for some people, of course.  All I can tell you is that when I arrived in Denver, I knew I was in the right place.

My tribe.  My people.  My posse.  How did I know?  The very first thing that Verne Harnish shared from the stage was the importance of learning.  Reading.  Lots of reading. Learn and never stop learning.  Hang around people who pursue knowledge and improvement constantly.  This is a core value of mine, and to hear it from the stage provided some serious affirmation I was in the right spot.

Verne referenced the legendary “think week” of Bill Gates.  He talked about the hours of reading per day of billionaire investor Warren Buffet.  He referred to the multidisciplinary mental models of Charlie Munger.  For about 15 minutes, the organizer of this event reminded us that 3 days in Denver will never cut it if you want to lead in anything.  Amen brother!

Fast forward to the end of day one.  I go back to my hotel room and set down my stuff.  I’ve got a dozen pages of notes, two new books, and a stack of business cards from some incredible CEO’s and entrepreneurs who are putting it all out there.  Many of these guys and gals are my age and have been running their own companies for a while.  It was really encouraging to hear their stories.  Listen to their battle-wounds and victories.

Everyone has a reason for being in the room.  We are all searching for something.  For example, one CEO felt split between the core business he started in, and a new line of business that he has more recently been pulled toward.  Which one should he focus on? Go back to his original core customer?  Or bet on this new line of business?  Or both? What is the best choice?  What is the winning strategy?  Which will be most profitable?

Verne Harnish made another wise comment when he kicked off the event.  He reminded us that we will not answer all our questions during the conference.  But, if we are lucky, we will walk out with the right questions.  Asking a better question, the right question, can make all the difference in the world.  In the three days I spent in Denver, I asked a lot of questions.

Back to the CEO I just mentioned with two lines of business.  He had a chance to ask this question directly to Verne during a breakout session.  I loved the response.  “I don’t know which business strategy you should choose.  That’s why YOU are the CEO and I’m not!”  At the end of the day, all the experience in the world does not give Verne the ability to make a decision for someone else.  That our job.  That’s my job, to make decisions for me.

For three straight days I learned non-stop from some of the greatest minds in business and leadership today.  It was awesome.  But at the end of it all, it still comes down to a simple truth.  None of it matters if I don’t make a choice to implement what I learned.  Nothing changes if I don’t make my own decisions.  Knowledge is worthless without action.  What questions will I ask?  Will I listen and respond to the answers?

Without a doubt, the practical knowledge I gained about the Rockefeller Habits and Scaling Up methods I plan to implement in my role with KitchenAid Commercial.  There is a lot to benefit from as we grow the business and expand the size of the team.

But I think there is more than that.  I think the question that is really forming inside is something a bit bigger than, “what will you implement at work?”  The question that keeps my mind buzzing at night is about who I am going to become.  What kind of leader am I going to be?  How much of my potential in this life am I going to unleash?  How big will I allow myself to dream?  And do I really believe that God has given me everything I need to reach those dreams and more?

I believe that 2019 will be more than Scaling Up business.  Starting now, the focus is going to be on Scaling Up my whole life.

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