Do you wonder how some entrepreneurs become wildly successful? In many cases, attitude is the primary key to success, and the second key is communication skills. Here, Lisa B. Marshall, aka The Public Speaker, shares how one entrepreneur used these skills to change his industry.
I recently received a copy of Jim Koch’s book, Quench Your Own Thirst. Jim is the founder of The Boston Beer Company and brewer of Samuel Adams beer. He’s also been credited as a key catalyst of the American craft beer revolution.
Although I do enjoy a cold Sam Adams, particularly on very hot days after working in my garden, today I won’t be discussing craft beers. Instead, I’ll focus on two insights I gained from reading this book.
Positive Attitude Leads to Success
Koch starts with some simple advice, which seems so obvious on the surface, but really isn’t. It’s a message that I wish I had internalized early in my career, because I believe it’s critically important for the success of an entrepreneur, or really any professional. Jim indirectly suggests that we should follow the mantra he heard from his Dad throughout his childhood: Every problem has a solution.
It’s interesting when I compare that to the message I received from my father. Followers of my podcast know that I learned some terrific lessons from my father, who was a huge and very positive influence on me. But in this one area, the indirect message I received was not helpful. My Dad was an engineer—his job was to point out potential problems—and that’s how he handled many of our conversations. (I was full of ideas for businesses when I was young.) I’d eagerly run to him to share my latest concept and he’d proceed to point out all of the potential problems. And that’s when I’d get stuck and deflated. I never had enough knowledge to overcome the issues he raised. And unfortunately, I didn’t recognize that I didn’t have to have all the answers! I’d think about the issues, but often I didn’t have a response and I never thought to reach out to others to help me solve the potential problems. So I never moved forward with my ideas. I felt frustrated.
What I wish I had understood more clearly is that recognizing problems is only a first step; every worthwhile project will have roadblocks and challenges. What matters is how you move forward after identifying issues. The key to success, as Jim’s dad preached, is to believe that every problem has a solution. You just need to put in the time and money, find the resources needed, and perhaps most importantly, not let the problems diminish your excitement for the idea. (That’s why I really admire people who are working on big problems—the people that have the ability to wait years, sometime a lifetime, to see progress (and their impact) on the problem they are working on.)
Now, as an adult, when I’m faced with an issue, I often repeat to myself, “This is just a problem that needs to be solved. If I keep thinking about the problem and working on it, I will eventually see a solution and I will move forward. Just keep going.” Knowing and really believing that obstacles are just temporary keeps me from getting frustrated and stuck. I wish as a child I had heard and internalized the message that all problems have a solution. (I’m curious, what message did you receive growing up? Please post in the comments section below or on Facebook.)