Perspective: What is Success?

The last words of Steve Jobs, billionaire, dead at 56:

“I have reached the pinnacle of success in business.” In other people’s eyes my life is a success.

However, aside from work, I’ve had little joy.

At the end of the day, wealth is just a fact I’ve gotten used to.

Right now, lying on my hospital bed, reminiscing all my life, I realize that all the recognition and wealth I took so much pride in, has faded and become meaningless in the face of imminent death.

You can hire someone to drive your car or make money for you, but you can’t hire someone to stand sick and die for you.

Material things lost can be found again. But there is one thing that can never be found when it is lost: Life.

Whatever stage of life we are currently at, in time we will face the day the curtain closes.

Love your family, spouse, children and friends… Treat them right .

Cherish them.

As we get older, and wiser, we slowly realize that wearing a $300 or $30 watch both give the same time

Whether we have a $300 or $30 wallet or purse, the amount inside is the same.

Whether we drive a $150,000 car or a $30,000 car, the road and the distance are the same, and we reach the same destination.

Steve Jobs

Whether we drink a $1000 or $10 bottle of wine, the hangover is the same.

Whether the house in which we live is 100 or 1000 square meters, loneliness is the same.

You will realize that your true inner happiness does not come from material things of this world.

Whether you travel first class or economy class, if the plane crashes, you go down with it…

Therefore, I hope you realize, when you have friends, brothers and sisters, with whom you discuss, laugh, talk, sing, talk about north-south-east or heaven and earth,… this is the real happiness!!

An indisputable fact of life:
Don’t raise your children to be rich.

Educate them to be happy.

Accessing the Right Strategic Advice at Board Level

“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”

Panel event Christchurch: Aug 22

We recently hosted a well attended panel event for the Canterbury Institute of Directors which included a mix of experienced directors with diverse & extensive governance experience.

Directors are mandated to work in the best interests of a company and to ensure (among other things) the entity is purposeful, successful, compliant, safe and future focussed. Inherent with this is the challenge of successfully navigating growth pains and the uncertainty of executing new or innovative strategic initiatives. As a company evolves and grows it will need access to different advice at various times in order to mitigate risk or to manage/navigate complexity. 

The 10 key insights outlined by the panel included;

  1. Whilst there is real value in long term advisers who deeply know the business, a company can outgrow existing advisers for a variety of reasons. A key indication can be where they no longer really challenge ideas nor present alternate solutions/insights.
  2. Many new advisers will be introduced via the network of independent directors and certainly referral is the most common approach. That said a board should not discount going to the market and seeking advice from outside an immediate network.
  3. Advisers can support board sub-committee initiatives/projects and join a board for select agenda items. This adds real value and expertise whilst also changing the conversation.
  4. It takes courage for a company founder to form a board and to then seek advice on a regular basis. Those that do tend to get business break throughs and lift the growth trajectory of the business.
  5. Specialist advisers can address sensitive topics in an un-emotive way backed up by data and examples which allows the topic to be explored in different ways. Clever/experienced leaders often need to be gently reminded of the options to ensure the best decision for the organisation is made.
  6. It is important to note that Advisers cannot resolve all the issues a business faces. Sometimes there is real value in the organisation working through challenging topics and reaching the solution internally.
  7. There are times a long term adviser might be conflicted ie where they advise shareholders/family trusts. As a company grows a board can feel the need to seek independent/unencumbered advice for the directors.
  8. As advisers are engaged they should fit the business culture, understand the business and earn the trust of the board. There are times it is more appropriate for advisers to be engaged/retained by the board vs by the CEO/management team.
  9. Candid discussions are often required to add real value whereby an adviser challenges ideas and is prepared to push back on status quo thinking to ensure new ideas are explored fully. Those who can “straight talk” often make a real impact.
  10. Every board and company situation is quite different and a mix of technical expertise, judgement and EQ skills are essential for a skilled adviser.

Without a doubt there is real value in accessing the right advice at the right time to actively contribute to key break throughs or important decisions. Some advice can be quite transactional, project based or specialist whilst other advisers may need to work alongside the company longer term complementing the board of directors.

Regardless of the type of advice or length of engagement this is an effective way to inform key decisions or to maintain momentum or speed of execution.

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