28 May Leadership & Entrepreneurship in Ireland – Post Script

Relaxing as a tourist in London today before we head back to the States on Monday.  I put this picture in because it’s Memorial Day weekend, and feeling like I am supposed to be back home rather than abroad… hard to explain…

If you are reading this and will be in Denver on June 15th, you are very welcome to attending our trip-recap/project presentations on Wednesday, June 15th from 6-8pm in the Tivoli Student Center in downtown Denver.

In the mean time, I thought I would list my personal take-aways from the past two weeks:

  • Based on the comments we heard, one would think the only schools that exist and matter in the United States are Harvard and Stanford.  I think all our schools could do a much better job being connected internationally.
  • I heard more about Canada in the last two weeks than I have in the last two years.  Our immigrations laws are keeping highly talented people out, and these people are now contributing to other countries collective knowledge.
  • Every single leader we met focused exclusively on passion – not money.
  • The leaders we met certainly appreciate a solid education, and support a lifelong approach to learning.  However, the leaders urged our students to use experience as the best teacher at this point in their careers.
  • You can’t do it alone.  Every leader needs a support network for different purposes – i.e., emotional, knowledge, financial, etc.  And those relationships need to be reciprocal in nature.
  • Not a single leader said that keeping work-life balance is easy.  It takes a lot of work, but work is never more important than family.  If you lose out on key events with your family, you can’t get them back.
  • You must know when to delegate, how to delegate, and how to follow-up without micro-managing.
  • Almost every leader said that in hindsight, they would have taken more risks, and bigger risks earlier rather than later.
  • The entrepreneurs cautioned against giving away too much ownership too soon.
  • Leaders must stay focused, and say No to a lot of opportunities brought forth by subordinates.  Part of focus is growing organically versus through acquisitions and mergers.
  • Most of the firms we met had a core set of values that were remarkablely similar – e.g., do your best, do what’s right, and treat others right.  The key is to provide unique examples of behavior expectations for each value in a way that support the desired culture.  And these behaviors need to be creatively repeated often, and can never be assumed to exisit without reinforcement.
  • Every leader was highly competitive with themselves, and many of them were most motivated when someone said, “You can’t.”
  • Hiring the right sales people is absolutely essential, and very, very difficult.  The organization needs to know that everyone is in sales, and that everyone is in sales support.
  • In the beginning, middle and end, it is all about people.  Period.

The points above are a summary of many pages of notes based on over 35 people that addressed our class.  In the end, I would have to say the past two weeks served as a significant learning boost for me.  In addition, I was reminded that the successful leaders by any measure were those that have a balance of determination and humility.  I think every person we heard speak said that a requirement of their organization was that egos get checked at the door.

Of course we learned a great deal about Irish culture, politics, business, and economics.  In the end, there are more similarities than differences between us, and we’re similarly motivated to make a positive difference in the lives of others.  My hope is that the students learned as much about themselves as they did the leaders we met, and that it will help them in the future as they lead, create, innovate, and develop others that come after them. I hope that we also created a small bridge between Ireland and the great state of Colorado so that students and business people alike will think of the Rocky Mountains in addition to the Northeast and California!

See you on the 15th of June I hope!  Slainte!

1Comment
  • Randy Weldon
    Posted at 21:21h, 30 May Reply

    Jan, as always, I enjoy your perspectives on business, leadership and family. I appreciate your takeaways from this great trip to Ireland!

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