It’s good to know where you’re going before you begin to go there.
My minister tells great stories. Here’s one. Supposedly true. It concerns Albert Einstein who was notoriously absent-minded. Einstein was taking a ride on the Metro North train out of New York. The conductor comes by to collect the tickets. Albert pats his pockets and can’t seem to find his ticket. The conductor recognizes him and tells Einstein not to worry about it. He goes through the rest of the train collecting tickets. On his way back he sees Professor Einstein on his knees on the floor frantically looking for his ticket. The conductor once again tells him not to worry, it’s alright if he can’t find his ticket. Albert Einstein looks up from the floor and says, “But I can’t remember where I’m going.”
There are many things I do poorly as an entrepreneur. I am a poor administrator. I am impatient with meetings. I am not good with the quotidian details of spread sheets and day-to-day financial analysis. I am a poor technologist. My personal organization is frequently inchoate. And this is but a short list.
Nevertheless, I’ve led my firm, Corporate Rain International, for sixteen years. Probably the chiefest reason I’ve managed to get by is that I am very clear about where I want to go, who I want to be, who I want to have as clients, who I want as employees and associates, and what I want my brand to represent.
Harvard Business School I ain’t. For example, when I started out, I typed my bills on an old Underwood typewriter. Even then (1996) that pretty much classified me as a dinosaur. I knew nothing. But I very clearly did know where I wanted to be in five years, ten years, and fifteen years. I had a clear unalloyed personal goal. I knew where I wanted my journey to take me.
There are lots of ways to be a successful entrepreneur. The entrepreneurial pilgrimage I’ve chosen involves creating value in my life. Unlike many entrepreneurial colleagues, my ambition isn’t to be a master of the universe. Though I am successful one day at a time, money is also not it for me (though I’d love to be very rich). But those goals are also fine. (I’m a huge admirer of Donald Trump, though not remotely interested in being like him.) However, as naive a point as it is, it’s really necessary to know where you personally want to go if you are to get there. Thanks, Albert.