How To Stay Atop The Success Pinnacle by Roz Usheroff

“There is no failure except in no longer trying” – Chris Bradford

During a seminar, I was once asked an interesting question . . . how do you stay successful?

I must admit that it made me stop for a brief moment as I am usually asked how does one become successful. Maintaining success is not something that most people talk about, simply because once we have achieved our goal or objective there is a sense that we have arrived.

In this context, I responded by saying that I think the real question is “now that I have succeeded, what’s next?”

Let’s face it, and unlike a good movie, life does continue beyond the rolling credits.

Success Start

Success Is Only The Beginning

One of the reasons why I have always embraced Bradford’s words, as well as those of Winston Churchill who said “Success is not final, failure is not fatal,” is that both recognized that whether in the afterglow of success, or the midst of failure, there are challenges to be met and overcome.

Even though the lessons we learn from failure are often times obvious, and clearly essential to moving forward, moving beyond success has its own unique lessons.

With regard to this latter point, I had an opportunity to catch-up with Toni Adams who is the Vice President, Global Partner Marketing at VMware. Founded in Palo Alto California in 1998, VMware is a software company that provides cloud and virtualization software and services, and was the first to successfully virtualize the x86 architecture.

Toni, is no stranger to success, and he was kind enough to take some time out of his busy day, to share with me his views on creating a model for sustainable success.

I am certain that you will find the following points very helpful from both a personal career as well as a company standpoint:

1. Avoid the risks associated with complacency

Like Jim Collins’s assertion in his book “good is the enemy of great,” complacency according to Toni can be a problem for many successful companies.

In this regard, you have to:

  • Avoid the pitfalls of being satisfied, by finding ways to do things better, or seeking out new opportunities to expand on your original vision.
  • Continue to operate in an environment of full transparency, where decisions are made based upon merit as opposed to hierarchy.
  • Be responsive to changes in the market – don’t simply do the same things that got you to where you are because you have always done it that way.
  • For leaders within the company, always stay connected with your entire team. Know them, understand them and build/maintain a rapport with them as they are your collaborative partners. (This also holds true for everyone in the company regardless of your title or position.)
  • Recognize that maintaining the entrepreneurial zeal or shared passion that built the company is an act of will as opposed to a natural part of the growth process.

2. Unto thy “culture” be true (and inclusive)

I remember watching a television sitcom based upon the challenges that a closely-knit family faced whenever someone gets married or brings an “outsider” into the picture.

The fact is that with success and the subsequent growth, your business is going to experience something of a similar nature as you welcome more “outside” people into the corporate fold.

Moutain Top2

In this context, Toni offers the following advice:

  • Recognize that the function of the company’s culture is to create an environment of collaboration. Therefore, it’s important to extend the company culture to include everyone and not just those who have been with the organization from day one.
  • Understand that the company’s culture must go beyond internal stakeholders to include external relationships such as those with customers and suppliers.

3. More than a product or service

While you can have a unique product or service, success is based upon more than what you sell. I am of course talking about your values. For what do you stand as a company as well as an individual is critical to becoming successful, and staying successful.

In my latest book The Future of You: Creating Your Enduring Brand, I wrote:

“Self-branding is when you incorporate your values and goals into a clearly recognized image (although I do not think the word image goes deep enough) that enables you to leave your indelible mark on the world. Aligning your personal brand with your company’s brand means that you will be in sync with your employer’s values and goals. It means that you “get it” in terms of where the company wants to go and how you can play a role in both the organization’s as well as your own personal success.”

Toni talked about this when he said that success goes beyond the product or service that a company offers. The fact is that a product or service must reflect the values of the company, including the people behind it.

Beyond the obvious, values are important on a practical level for the following reasons:

  • Like attracts like . . . specifically, good people will be drawn to an organization that reflects similar values. If you create an environment with a strong work ethic, mutual respect and a truly collaborative spirit, people with these same values will want to become a part of the team.
  • Your values as a company will be clearly demonstrated by the level of service and support you give to your customers.
  • Your values will influence your relationships with external stakeholders such as suppliers.

In our desire for success, it is important that we have a game plan beyond the attainment of our own personal goals that encompass the success of others.

Ultimately, this game plan will enable you manage your success, and to create a lasting legacy of excellence in much the same manner that Toni has outlined.

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