A while back I had attended a National Post sponsored event at the Ted Rogers School of Management, a section of Ryerson University. It was titled ‘The Annual CEO Outlook Conference’ carrying a theme that certainly struck a chord with me: ‘Engaging India: Doing Business with a Rising Giant’. The event showcased Indian born, now Canadian CEOs.
While it may take a while to regurgitate and discuss their opinions on doing business with Indian counter parts, I am instead going to talk about their hard-as-steel yet malleable business mindsets. Over the course of their introductions, brief speeches, and question and answer periods, I was paying close attention to how they looked at the recent economic downturn and what mental tools they used to overcome relevant issues in their minds before setting the gears into motion.
I strongly believe that to be a successful business person in this day and age, one needs to collapse their timeframes. One way to do this is to understand the mindset of current business leaders – realize that they arrived at this juncture after going through many of the trials and tribulations that you may look forward to. The ‘So What?’ to you is that if you can leverage their experience, and begin thinking like they do right now, you stand to benefit dramatically when it’s your turn to cross those bridges.
These guys and gals have set precedents, in mind or in action, so just do like they do. No need to re-create the wheel. Earlier in the year, one of my mentors told me, “You want the long way, or the short way?” It’s a no-brainer on the choice I made, “Short way”. The response, “Look for who is doing what you want to do, and work with them. Why build a staircase when you can use the escalator beside you?” I trust this mentor because he is at a point where I want to be in 5 years, and has accomplished everything that I had planned to do in my particular business.
Enough with the background. First thing is first: considering the source. Prem Watsa, Chairman and CEO of Fairfax Financial Holdings since its inception in 1985 said you should always “trust, but verify” where you’re getting your information from. Considering his vantage point from the top of a company, which through its subsidiaries, is engaged in insurance, reinsurance, and investment management, it’s evident why he came to this conclusion. He said there is a lot of misinformation out there because today the world is in an information age. News exchanges hands and is spread before you get to catch the person who took a picture of you in the change room. And the individuals, groups, or corporations that control this information and its dissemination need to be evaluated to ensure you’re getting a healthy dose of correct information. Prem pointed out how even though a piece of information is repeated all day on certain news stations, it doesn’t make it true.
Like my previous blog post, who benefits from the information you’ve just received and instantly decided to act upon? Take a moment to consider: we have arrived upon a certain point in North American society where there is a tremendous amount of information available. So much so that it is impossible to parse it all, let alone verify the information. Ladies, gentlemen, friends, my fellow human beings, verification is important!! People are so eager to get and talk about the next bit of information before the previous piece of information has been dealt with. You may be the recipient of targeted advertising, social marketing, peer pressure, social proof pressure (i.e. this product has been purchased by 59 billion happy customers so act now!!), etc, and not all the information coming your way is true. I’ve found that people stop asking “why?” and instead just accept things as fact.
Prem Watsa also talked about being in business for the long term, not for the short term, and an organization’s goals need to reflect that. Furthermore he disagreed (and I agree with his stance) with the actions that world governments are taking to ‘stimulate’ the economy (“quantitative easing” aka BS). In his view, as a large investment money manager, he sees this as prolonging and spreading the larger and true recession. The very nature of a recession is to flush out sickly corporations, however governments are propping them up. While this may be a short term solution, in the long term it results in stagnation.
Next time, what to do when the economy slows down from master hotelier Steve Gupta.