“I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will give you counsel and watch over you.”
- King David
I had a simple principle that guided every day of my investment career:
I was just smart enough to know that there were a lot of people smarter than I am.
Now the brokers that called me from all over the country were used to talking to investment managers that thought they had it all figured out. The questions they usually posited were intended to stroke my ego and feed the misconception that I didn’t need their suggestions and that all my ideas must be the right and only ones.
But I had a great series of mentors that taught me about humility. They reminded me that all that ego stroking and affirmation was really about the large pile of money I was managing and it wasn’t about me. They taught me that all the “friends” I made on the other side of the street would largely disappear once the money was no longer between us. (Apart from a very few exceptions, none of those relationships extended beyond my investment career.)
That idea that there are others smarter and more experienced than I am continues to guide my life. We curate the best ideas and the brightest minds in the business and coaching arenas.
When a client is struggling in a particular area, we go to work on solutions, but some of our first questions are always;
- Who is the best in your industry?
- What are they doing in the area where you are struggling?
- Who has already figured this out or solved this problem?
- What can we learn from the best?
That extends even into my personal life. In most areas, I am looking for better, to upgrade, to improve. I encourage this in my children as well. Recently, I was looking for ways to supplement their homeschooling and I stumbled across something called MasterClass. You can sign up for a single video-driven “class” or get an annual subscription that allows you access to all the classes. You can learn…
- writing from Malcolm Gladwell, James Patterson, or Judy Blume
- photography from Annie Leibowitz
- cooking from Thomas Keller, Gordon Ramsey, or Wolfgang Puck
- film making from Martin Scorsese or Ron Howard
- architecture from Frank Gehry
- chess from Gary Kasparov
- tennis from Serena Williams or basketball from Seth Curry
There are 35 current MasterClasses with many more being produced. This trailer for Hans Zimmer’s Masterclass on film scoring that gives you a taste and a feel for the classes. His class alone includes 31 individual lessons!
Is there something your company is doing well that you want to do better? Is there something that your company is really struggling with? What are the best in your industry doing? Who is finding the greatest success that you can learn from? There is gold in hunting down these answers.
One of our clients was facing some challenging issues and told me that there was a “Top Shelf” community online that was created for the sharing of best practice ideas in his industry. You had to apply to join this closed network, were not allowed any negative chatter, and had to contribute to the community with your own ideas or best practices to stay a member. How great is that?
Apparently, many of us have bought into the idea because there are entire religions built on following the best practices of one person.
- Are you just smart enough to know that there are people smarter than you?
- Are you continuing to learn and grow as a leader, despite the fact that you have found some measure of success?
- Who is the best at what you do?
- Are you reading them, following them, and continuing to learn from them? Why not?